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Building the world's most expensive bike

Most expensive bike - exploded
Sam Challis
2 Sep 2015

If you built a bike from the most expensive parts available, what would you end up with?

As children we all did it, searching through cycling magazines to find the parts that would make up our dream bicycle. Some of us have never really grown up, and at Cyclist we still obsess over hi-tech components and shiny accessories. The only difference is that these days we are in the happy position of being able to bring all those special parts together to actually create a bike that will have Saudi princes and Russian oligarchs reaching for their platinum credit cards.

The premise is simple: find the most expensive stock items available and assemble them. Of course, this doesn’t mean these are the best items – that’s a subjective matter and, sadly, we are not in a position to test the finished product to see how it performs. Also, we used only stock parts – that means no custom-built frames or limited edition components. We avoided custom because, by definition, there’s no limit to how much you could spend on a bike once you decide it needs to be forged from pure gold and encrusted with diamonds.

Having tracked down the parts for our MEB (most expensive bike), we then contacted the suppliers and asked them to explain why their handiwork is so highly priced. This is the result…

Frameset: Storck Fascenario 0.6, £6,649

The heart of the build was the most difficult to determine. Even bespoke framesets plateau in cost at around £6,500, but at this price the lines between stock and custom begin to blur. Therefore, we chose to spec the Storck Fascenario 0.6 frameset, which at £6,649 is marginally the most expensive and remains a true stock option. 

‘The frame is constructed using Storck’s most complex proprietary manufacturing process, using HMF carbon fibre, our finest grade,’ says Storck’s Ian Hughes. ‘3D-CAD imaging was used to determine the lay-up of the unidirectional carbon fibre to optimise stiffness and vibration dampening. This makes the frame one of the most efficient and comfortable available off-the-peg. Weight is also kept to a minimum by using a one-piece monocoque construction that undergoes Storck’s patented Void Vacuum Controlled process, which claims to eliminate any imperfections in the carbon lay-up and reduce the resin content by 33%.’ As a result, the frame, fork and integrated brakes weigh just 1,310g. 

‘The challenge was to produce a road bike frame that would exceed the Fascenario 0.7, which held the title of “Best Bike in the World” [as judged by Germany’s Tour magazine] for three years. The 0.6 subsequently won the award so we achieved our goal.’

Wheels: Reynolds RZR 46 Team, £4,499

Most expensive bike - fork

In the search for the most expensive wheels, our first stop was German brand Lightweight, which specialises in insanely priced hoops. However, our research revealed that the biggest pricetag is attached to the Reynolds RZR 46 Team tubular wheels, at £4,499 for the pair. 

Their narrow, pointed rim profiles have Kevlar reinforcement and buck the trend of rounded deep-section rims. Reynolds says the RZR’s profile is inherently lighter and, thanks to the Swirl Lip Generator (SLG), more aerodynamic. The SLG is a 0.9mm lip on the rim’s leading edge that Reynolds claims smoothes airflow as it passes onto the aerofoil-shaped spoke faces, translating into a 12.5-second gain over 40km. Reynolds also claims to have eliminated the inconsistent braking that blights some carbon rims. It has developed a ‘Cryogenic Glass Transition Braking System’ – a redesign of the brake track laminate and pads (£60 for four). The laminate is now temperature-conductive to withstand higher extremes than regular laminates. Plus the rear wheel includes a ‘torque flange’, a third layer of spokes that Reynolds claims increases torque efficiency, and therefore performance. 

Tyres: Challenge Criterium Seta Extra, £110

At £110 per tyre, the 250g Challenge Criterium Seta Extra tubular tyres are handmade with a silk carcass at 300 threads per inch, so have a higher thread count than most bed sheets. These tyres aren’t vulcanised either, ensuring the tyre is supple and responsive, while the rubber compound achieves high grip with low rolling resistance, making it the choice of many pros for Classics races and Grand Tours alike.

Saddle/seatpost: Dash Carbon Standard Post Combo, £799

It’s a common theme in the bicycle industry – as weight decreases incrementally, price increases exponentially. This rule certainly holds true for the £799 Dash Carbon Standard Post Combo. 

‘Dash is a small independent company in Boulder, Colorado,’ says James Heath of Ubyk, Dash’s UK distributor. ‘Its saddles are handmade and are some the lightest products on the market. With the Standard Post Combo, Dash obsessed over the balance of form and function.’ The fruit of this approach has allowed a fully adjustable seatpost combination with a weight as low as 112g, depending on specification.

Most expensive bike - crank built

Chainset: Storck Power Arms G3 cranks plus Carbon-Ti chainrings, £1,600.98

To go with our Storck frame, the most expensive cranks we could find were the 400g Storck Power Arms G3 cranks, retailing for £1,100. Storck says the price is down to their impressive stiffness-to-weight ratio, which comes from the arms’ full carbon fibre construction. 

Adorning the crank arms are Carbon-Ti’s chainrings. The rings have a carbon internal structure mated to titanium teeth. ‘Carbon-Ti’s chainrings are completely made in Italy,’ says Tom Oborne of Evolution Imports, Carbon-Ti’s UK distributor. ‘It would rather keep production costs high than risk low quality and poor quality-control checks in the Far East. The titanium teeth offer exceptional shifting performance and are super durable, and the internal carbon keeps weight down while maintaining stiffness.’ 

The 74g outer ring has an RRP of £267.99, and the 32g inner ring comes at £232.99.

Groupset: Campagnolo Super Record EPS, £1,876.96

Our MEB wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Campy, and a large chunk of our groupset is provided by Campagnolo’s Super Record EPS (the price is for the combined parts specced). The EPS rear derailleur uses carbon fibre and titanium, but that’s not the only reason for the hefty pricetag. The groupset is still made in Italy and carries with it a near-religious heritage having once been the sole choice of the pros.

The £385 cost of the Super Record cassette is attributable to the multiple titanium sprockets, and the use of the ‘Ultra-Shift’ tooth design to improve shifting and decrease chain stress.

The chain is one part of the groupset where Super Record has been usurped in favour of the £86.99 KMC X11SL DLC chain. Its 243g weight is made possible by machined-out plates, and while light weight is usually at the expense of durability, the chain’s diamond like coating (DLC) increases wear resistance to prolong chain life. 

For the brakes we switched to Nokon cables, which come with a suitably weighty pricetag of £139.95. Nokon’s patented bead-like cable outers feature linked segments that reduce cable friction through bends and stabilise pressure internally so braking modulation remains precise and smooth.

Bar and stem: Enve SES Aero Road, £605

Durability and quality rarely come cheap so it should be of little surprise that Enve contributes handlebars and stem. The £375 SES Aero Road bar justifies its cost not through light weight, but through aero gains and heavily researched ergonomics. A narrow, aerofoil-shaped top flows into flared drops, moving the rider naturally into a more aerodynamic position but retaining the option for aggressive handling in the drops. 

Brand manager Ash Matthews explains that Enve had broader aims than just weight with its £230 carbon stem: ‘Our objective was to create a responsive connection between the bike’s front end and the handlebar, using a combination of titanium and unidirectional carbon fibre.’

In stark contrast to the ultra-modern spec so far, the bar tape from Cinelli is decidedly retro. The £68.99 Imperial Leather bar tape is made of cowhide, has natural shock absorbing properties and, much like a fine wine, improves with age. Production and raw material costs keep the price close to five times that of standard bar tape.

Most expensive bike - cranks

Pedals: Speedplay Nanogram Zero Titanium, £599

While pedals are traditionally not part of a bicycle specification, Speedplay’s £599 Nanogram Zero Titanium pedals were a must. Speedplay took its existing Zero pedals and re-engineered them for weight reduction and performance optimisation. When explaining the cost, Rob Jarman from i-Ride, Speedplay’s UK distributor, says, ‘It’s simply a case of materials. It was about creating a pedal with no compromises. The pedal bodies are made of carbon-reinforced thermoplastic, and alloy and titanium replace steel in the spindles and cleats.’ 

The final tally: £17,204.86

The total for the entire build comes to £17,204.86. That puts it at a shade over £6,000 more than the most expensive stock (ie, not custom) bikes we’ve featured in the magazine. To date the highest pricetag for a stock bike is shared by the Trek Émonda SLR10 and the De Rosa Protos, both retailing at £11,000. The MEB bike weighed 5.69kg. Impressive, but not the lightest out there.

What we can’t tell you is the performance credentials of our expensive bike (everything needs to be returned in pristine condition), so
if there are any Lottery winners out there who are tempted to recreate Cyclist’s MEB, we’d love to hear about how it rides.

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