When John Dempsey of Lucca Sports called up to my house one evening with a new bike for me to test out I was happy to see him.
As he handed over the Swift Ultravox RS-1 and we looked across towards the Comeragh mountains he happened to remark ‘Mind it now and no going for Strava times coming down Tickincor’.
I took a glance at the chain-set, saw a compact 50t outer chainring, thought back to my last KOM in a 53 x 11 on that particular descent and replied ‘Of course not’, and I really, really meant it, at the time.
My first spin out was with the Carrick gang where the bike got quite a few admiring glances and positive comments on its understated good looks.
Initially I found it to be stiff and responsive. Out of the saddle you can actually feel the power being transferred and even seated, turning a relatively big gear the bike seems to surge forward with every pedal revolution.
When I got home I was pleased with how the bike had felt and even remarked to my wife Ciara, that there really can be big differences between how different bikes perform. She didn’t look convinced, but I was.
The next evening as I looked across at the Comeragh mountains and especially Tickincor I felt the mountain calling me, or maybe it was the dog rubbing my leg and whining looking for food. Whichever it was, I was quickly in my cycling gear and on the Swift. The dog was licking the window as I headed off.
The climb itself is one of the hardest around and I rode out of the saddle the entire way up. The bike is light and responsive but you still need the legs to push those pedals around. I have a few extra kilos for company nowadays than when I was able to see the leaderboard of Strava on the way up but I still managed a respectable time.
As I reached the summit I felt that it would be imperative to a good test of a bike to go back down. I had John’s words of warning echoing faintly in my mind and I resolved to take it handy with no going for a Strava time.
This is a bike that descends incredibly well. The bulky head tube makes it very stiff up front. This lateral stiffness means that it corners like it is on train tracks. On a wet day you would only see one set of tyre tracks going around the corners. Many bikes will have two, where a slight flex up front leads to the front wheel stepping out slightly and the rear following inside. This feature is much of what you pay for in the really high end bikes.
There are a few corners on Tickincor and the bike just glided around them effortlessly. There was no drama and no great loss of speed. Very few bikes in this price range corner this well at speed.
On the straights the aerodynamic properties made their presence felt. The bike just glided along as the numbers on the Garmin kept on rising.
Reaching the bottom of the descent I was satisfied on two counts. I had let the bike roll on enough to show me just how stable and undramatic a descender it is but I had not pushed on too much going after a Strava time so John would be happy too.
Unfortunately when I got home my illusions were shattered. I felt that there was at least another 15 to 20 seconds that were available on the descent had I really pushed the bike to its limits. I knew that it was a fast descender and on the way down had noted at least three points where I had backed off in the awareness that this was not my own bike and it had to be returned in one piece.
Plugging the garmin into the laptop and logging into Strava resulted in a gold crown appearing on the screen. I had set a new KOM on the descent ( Sorry John ).
Since then I have taken the bike all over the Country on many different types of roads. In the interest of a fair and balanced review I even followed my training buddies down a road that almost did not exist at all.
On smooth tarmac the bike cruises along effortlessly. Squeeze the pedals and you are rewarded with a joyful surge of acceleration. On roads used by an actual Paris Roubaix rider the bike tracks perfectly and you always feel in control. For a frame this stiff, it is still relatively comfortable.
No effort has been spared in designing the frame set. Up front, and down at the bottom bracket and chain stays it is bulky and stiff. However the seat stays are small, triangular and narrow before they pass through the flattened triangle to intersect with a seat tube that contains a 27.2 seat post. This means that it is stiff where it needs to be for power transfer and handling, and forgiving up where the rider comes in contact with it.
A bike mechanic must have had input into the design too. With most high end bikes now having internal gear and brake cables, it can be a nightmare of a job to simply change a cable as they have to be fished through. I have spent way too long doing a simple job on some high end frames in the past. Swift have done everything possible to make this job easier and I’m sure every mechanic who works on one will love them for it.
The wheels are easton EA70. In the past Easton had a nightmare episode with a spoke supplier who subcontracted out an order which resulted in a spate of breakages and a dent in their credibility. This was resolved two years ago and they are back to their best once more. Great hubs built on strong semi aero rims resulting in a strong responsive lightweight wheel that would be good enough to race or to train on.
The Ultegra 11 speed group set works just as you would expect, flawlessly. The Ritchey Bars, Stem and Seatpost are well thought out, easy to work with and comfortable to use. A Fizik saddle will suit most posteriors and Continental Ultra Sport tyres are good all rounders.
Overall this is a great bike, well suited to fast sportive riders, racers, and those who like to push on when out on their bikes. It is not an all out Sportive bike and neither is it a fully aggressive race machine.
At €3600 this is not just a carbon frame with Ultegra but a relatively new brand that offers a high quality product that could well cost the same price for just the frame and fork if it were one of the more established pro tour brand names.
To find out more on the range of Swift bikes available from Lucca Sports click here