Ridden and written by Dan Bill
Cycling is a sport in which equipment is just as much a focus as the riding and the competition. Equipment can also have a huge effect on how we feel, ride and perform and let’s face it, a nice bike can also make you feel proud when you roll in to the car park before the club run or lean it up against your car at the race HQ. It’s nice when other riders complement you on you nice ride and enquire about the cost, how it rides and everything else. This is why it’s the norm to see riders of all categories riding £7000 bikes with all the latest bits hanging off them even if there ability doesn't warrant that sort of equipment and rightly so, who says you have to be a first cat to ride a super bike, if you want it and you can afford it then go for it that what I say.
However for me I see it like this; I'm a second cat racing cyclist in the UK where I am racing against more experienced and less experienced cyclist through the year. These races can take place on fast courses with oncoming traffic, quick descents and slippy corners. I have to fund my cycling which is ultimately a hobby and I have to buy my own bike and equipment. This is why I have always lived by this very simple motto; I will only race what I can afford to replace. So long as my bike doesn't put me at a distinct disadvantage, is safe and functional then it will do me. I know that I can make up more difference by improving my physical performance than a £4000 set of wheel ever will and only when I have reached my limit for physical improvement will I even begin to consider this sort of crazy spend.
This is why for the past year I have ridden a bike which offers the best performance to value ratio that I know off, this bike is the Planet X Nanolight Highmodulus which you can see my review of in an earlier post. This bike provided me with a pleasant surprise when I compared it my Trek 5.2 which had previously and the best part was that I knew every time I entered a race if I had a smash then I could go out the next day and buy a new one. So, when I heard that PX were bringing out a new, more developed and more refined version of the Nanolight I was eager to get my hands on their latest model.
After a few months of looking at the pics on the Internet and visualising my new ride, finally I can now tell you that my new Planet X N2A is now fully build and has already been ridden and raced.
I was very lucky to be one of the guys who got the mitts on the very first batch of frames in to the UK, even the Planet X teams riders are still waiting for there. So, now that the bike is tries and tested I suppose I had better let you guys know what it’s like just in case you were looking to buy one yourself.
As with all of my Planet X online buying experiences, the service was second to none. All of my enquiries were answered quickly and efficiently and even though they got the shipping date wrong, they were quick to inform me and keep my updated. When the frames were delivered to the UK, I had mine in the office the very next day in a well packaged and secure state. No signs of damage of tampering were present other than a tiny little mark in the paint work on the top tube which is barely noticeable and something which I can more than live.
The build process was simple and easy, all I had to do was transfer all of my components from my old frame over to new one. Everything fitted perfectly and the BB30 adapter which I had used went in tightly and securely. The frame has internal cable routing which can sometimes be notoriously tricky to work with but not this bike, all of the routs come guided with a plastic sheath running through the frame which you either leave in or remove depending on you preferences. The weight of the frame is an impressive 975g which is amazing consider the robustness of the frame and also the price; £799.00 for the frame, fork, headset and seat post!!! Pretty amazing value for money I think you will agree.
My only negative at this point is the paint job. As lovely and smart as it is, the matt finish does seem to mark very easy and is pretty hard to keep looking gleaming due to water marks ect. Just make sure that you use some bike shield where your cables rub the frame and along the chain stay otherwise this will start looking shabby pretty quick. I also used some on the seat post where by saddle bag fits.
The first ride I did on this bike was a level 5 V02 max Hill session consisting of 8 x 4 minute seated efforts, this I knew would allow me get a real feel for the bike and how it feels when riding it hard. The very thing I can confirm after pedalling this bike for the first time is that it is designed for racing, pure and simple. If you want a bike to ride in out and out comfort all year long then look at their other more sportive orientated frames, the N2A is bred for competition and aggressive riding and that’s where it’s most at home.
The first this people always think with cheaper Chinese built smaller brand carbon frames is that they are like riding a stick of butter and assume that the grade of carbon is cheap and laid with no thought resulting is a horrible flexy and unresponsive frame. This is far from the truth with the N2A as it was with the Nanolight; in fact the N2A is noticeably stiffer in all areas compared with its predecessor. It has a huge bottom bracket junction and Chain stay as well as a massive head tube all of which translate directly in to an extreamly stiff and responsive ride. Whether sprinting or climbing the power is going straight to the back wheel and no amount of pulling on the bars with unship the front end.
All this stiffness is perfect for the aggressivness of road racing a certianly wont let you down in a sprint. However, this extra stiffness does mean that you lose a bit of compliance which was characteristic of the Nanolight. This doesn’t bother me because I much prefer stiffness over comfort but please don’t misinterpret this remark as me saying that this frame is hideously uncomfortable and after 10 miles your back will be in agony. No, no, no, this is still a comfortable bike and the extra harshness is translated in to road feedback father than fatigue educing discomfort. You could still ride this bike 100 miles and feel fresh providing you are used to the racy position.
Speaking of position, again this is designed to allow for a more aggressive racing position but I can tell you that if you do what a slightly more back friendly riding position then this will allow for it providing you get the right stem length act.
After only 3 training rides on this bike I had the opportunity to try it in a race situation, not only just a race but a stage race which would allow me to see just had well it proved in all aspects including fatigue reducing properties.
When I rocked up to the HQ on the first day then one thing it did do well was gain huge amounts of interest and as I was probably one of the first consumers to actually race this bike no one had really seen one in the flesh. Other riders were commenting on how well great it looked and what amazing value for money it was. Tis is also where I showed the Planet X team up due to the fact they were still waiting for the N2A's to arrive in the second batch which are yet to be delivered.
Over the 2 days of racing the bike proved faultlessly and didn’t put a foot wrong. It responded to every pedal stroke which I made and coped admirably with their rough UK roads even shrugging off a couple of big hits when a pot hole or 2 popped up from nowhere. The racing also allowed me to see how it tracked in the corners at real pace and as one of my strengths is my cornering ability I was hoping that it would allow me to ride on my usual limit through the turns. Thankfully it tracked perfectly thanks to the stiff front end and carved a smooth line through the fastest corners on the circuit.
The one thing that was noticeable during the first day of racing which took place on a pan flat, exposed circuit was that it is noticeably more susceptible to cross winds that the Nanolight due to its deep tube profiles. This did make for some sketchy moments during the gutter grovelling, strung out side wind sections of the race but a lot of this is because I am so light anyway.
If there’s one area where this bikes scores beyond category in the review stakes then its value for money. As I mentioned earlier, the full carbon frame, full carbon fork, FSA headset and full carbon aero seat post all come in at a grand total of £799.00 including delivery! As I stated at the start of this post, I want a frame that I can race and know that can go out and buy a new one the next day if the worst should happen, this bike marks that box with a big fat tick!
Basically Planet X have once again outdone themselves and proved that they are the benchmark setter when it comes to cost effective, high performing carbon frames. If you want a light, stiff, responsive and smart looking bike which doesn’t break the bank and will provide you with a suburb platform for bolting on high spec parts and will do all that it asks of you in all kinds of races then the New N2A may be the bike you need.
Just to finish, I would like to make it known that I am in no way endorsed by Planet X in any shape or form. I pre ordered this frame when they became available for pre-order and paid the full retail price of £799.00. These views are my own and were not influenced by anything other than my own thoughts and opinions.