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Holdsworth Competition review

31 Jul 2017

The history and heritage of Holdsworth brought bang up to date in a great-value package

Cyclist Rating: 
Full Ultegra groupset at a great price • Fantastic colour and paint scheme • Great options for tweaking and tuning to your personal taste
Racers may find the ride position a little upright • Oversized bars can make it hard to fit accessories • No head badge – a small point, but given the brand's heritage, it would have been nice

Holdsworth is a bike brand with a prestigious history. Dating back to 1927 and based in Putney, South London, it was one of the most prestigious bike brands in its time.

In more recent years the brand has been reborn through online bike retailer Planet X, which revitalised the name by releasing a series of updated frames, including the Competition we have on test here.

As well as retaining the classic steel construction, the modern Holdsworths retain the classic colour schemes and logos (the Competition is also available in Holdsworth’s famous orange and blue livery), but is otherwise a very modern design.

Hand-built using Columbus Spirit SL steel, the tubing is far from being simply round, with an almost octagonal down tube and shaped seatstays, and is triple-butted – thicker at the ends where more strength is required, thinner in the middle to reduce weight.

It might not be a true classic, but it looks fantastic. The only small extra we would like to see is a metal head badge, giving a further nod to the heritage of the brand.

A full Shimano Ultegra groupset is a real boon for a bike at this price, giving near faultless shifting and braking. Through the online bike builder, buyers can pick and tweak the components, whether that’s to upgrade or simply for personal preference, such as the cassette and chainring sizes.

Steel is often chosen for its comfort, since its strength means it can be built into narrow tubes that allow plenty of flex. However, while it is far from being uncomfortable, the Holdsworth Competition is no magic carpet ride.

In fact, it achieves an excellent balance, with superb stiffness when sprinting and cornering, well above what we were expecting, giving a feeling of stability and confidence downhill.

While the geometry is modern, given the Competition name and the racing heritage, some people might prefer a slightly shorter head tube to give a lower, more aggressive riding position.

But weighing a little more than most modern racing bikes, this might be more the choice of those looking for retro style than outright speed.


Frame 8/10; Components 8/10; Wheels 8/10; The ride 8/10

Verdict: Great spec for the price and a good ride too, although it won't quite be racy enough for true racers. But if you're after a bike with some heritage to go with its modern components and performance, it could be the ideal match.


Frame Triple-butted Columbus Spirit SL tubing, high modulus carbon fork
Groupset Shimano Ultegra 6800
Brakes Shimano Ultegra 6800
Chainset Shimano Ultegra 6800, 52/36
Cassette Shimano Ultegra 6800, 11-28
Bars Selcof Omicron
Stem Selcof Omicron
Seatpost Selcof HM Delta HM carbon
Saddle Prologo Kappa Evo
Wheels Vision Team 35mm Comp
Weight 8.54kg (56cm)

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