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Swift Attack G2 Disc review

20 Mar 2019
Verdict:

An assured and well-balanced bike that sits at the racy end of 'endurance', but as such faces stiff competition from its own stablemates

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
€2,899 (approx £2,600)
For 
Great handling • Decent spec • Excellent value
Against 
A tad racy for an endurance bike (if endurance is what you're looking for) • Quite weighty

Swift has been around since 2012, founded by ex-pro Mark Blewett under the auspices of the ‘I looked around and couldn’t see any bikes that really impressed me, so I decided to make my own’ narrative.

Last year the brand changed hands and was bought by Swift’s distributor in Brazil, the Lagoa Participações group, but according to Swift’s Pedro Dias, ‘The strategy and vision are the same, just a new owner, more energy, more investment.’

That ‘vision’ was to create race-orientated bikes using the sub-contractor/vendor model of having Swift’s designs made by a Chinese factory.

Only instead of just working hard on getting into the best vendor’s factory, Blewett decided to install himself alongside a vendor, upping sticks to China so he could take a more hands-on role.

He hoped to avoid the pitfalls that typically beset this model of manufacture: delays in delivery, poor quality control and vendors not being willing to go that extra mile.

It all sounded admirable, but the proof was in the pudding, which happily turned out to be the Swift Ultravox, a bike that hits a sweet spot in terms of handling and ride feel.

All told, the Ultravox didn’t do anything special but was a well-made, handsome bike.

It balanced pretty aggressive geometry (147mm head tube, size medium) and reactive handling (shortish 60.5mm trail) with stability (997mm wheelbase, 410mm chainstays) and a nice touch of comfort thanks in part to thin, flattened seatstays.

And it was kind of cheap, and still is.

The Ultravox has remained virtually the same since its release in 2012, with an Ultegra and Mavic Ksyrium decked bike costing €2,699 (£2,400 ).

I call that a bargain.

But this is a review of the Attack G2, a totally different bike, so why is this important? Well…

Family values

Swift is strange.

It has three road bikes in its range, yet two of them – the Ultravox and the aero Hypervox – have identical geometry, both in disc and rim brake variants.

The Attack G2 has identical geometry in every way too, save for the head tube, which for this size medium is 172mm.

That bit makes sense, as the Attack is billed as an endurance bike, and a taller head tube for a more relaxed position is de rigeur.

But along with that I’d expect to see a longer wheelbase and longer trail for more neutral handling and greater stability.

I put this to Dias.

‘If we have a longer wheelbase and trail than the Ultravox [and Hypervox] you would feel the Attack is too slow and too relaxed,’ he replied.

‘We wouldn’t think of it to take into a sportive if our Attack was like that. It’s an endurance bike but fast enough to race.’

That seems reasonable, but the more I think about it the more paradoxical it sounds.

A bit like when Kevin Keegan, then-manager at Manchester City, said of the diminutive Sean Wright-Phillips, ‘He’s got a big heart.

‘It’s as big as him, which isn’t very big, but it’s bigger.’

Something can’t be bigger than it is big, and an endurance bike can’t have race bike geometry without being a race bike.

It might seem like an academic point, but categorisation is important here.

I would argue that calling the latest Swift an endurance bike is to misunderstand its virtues.

Despite the taller head tube, the Attack is still slightly too racy in handling and too stiff in the vertical plane to be a proper endurance bike.

It just doesn’t have that refined mile-munching character.

But taken as a race bike, albeit one that could stand to lose a few grams, it is possessed of similarly fine attributes as its Ultravox sibling.

Steering is the Attack’s forte.

I found it held a tight line without needing to be wrestled, but it stopped short of twitchy, with that mid-length wheelbase helping to temper the shorter trail.

It was a balancing act that came into its own on descents.

The Ksyriums help here too, coming set up tubeless with Mavic’s Yksion tyres, the grippiest, most supple Mavic tyres to date.

Tubeless means lower pressure, which means better grip, but more than that, the Ksyriums have always managed two things well – weight and stiffness.

This ‘Pro UST’ version of the Ksyrium wheelset weighs a claimed 1,650g (the Carbon SL version weighs a claimed 1,475g), which is good if not great for an alloy rim with disc hubs.

But their real trick is that they hide their weight well by being stiff, meaning acceleration is emphatic in a way that offsets lag from the slightly heavier weight.

Add in Easton components and an Ultegra Disc groupset, and the Attack G2 is a well-rounded package, especially for the money.

You could pay twice the asking and still get a similar specced bike.

Third child syndrome

Alas, nothing is perfect, and the Attack G2 presented a few niggles.

First – and this isn’t really Swift’s problem – the Ksyrium freehub mechanism has a remarkable amount of drag, to the point where stopping pedalling at speed elicited momentary chain suck before the freewheel drag was overcome.

It didn’t spell disaster, but chain suck is the beginning of a journey for a derailleur cage into spokes.

Second, although the 25mm tyres are good, I think the Attack could benefit even more from wider rubber.

I’d say the extra grip and comfort of 28mm tyres would be worth the extra weight.

Finally, there’s so little in it that I’m not sure why you’d buy the Attack G2 over the Ultravox, because the Ultravox is a superior bike in every way.

It’s a little bit lighter (around 200g), a fair bit stiffer and just as comfortable.

Crucially, it feels faster. Front-end height is a consideration of course, but a few spacers can be used without making a bike look like a dog’s dinner.

And while the Ultravox won’t fit up to 32mm tyres, it will take 28mm.

In a way this isn’t a criticism of the Attack at all.

In fact it’s partly why I like it: it does the race bike thing very well, just with a slightly more relaxed nature.

But in performance terms it doesn’t seem different enough to step out of the Ultravox’s shadow.

So really, for my money, it all comes down to money.

You’d choose this bike because it’s like an Ultravox Disc but more than £500 cheaper.

Plus, the Shimano 105 version comes in a pleasing blue/grey and costs even less – €1,899 (£1,700).

Spec

Frame Model Swift Attack G2 Disc
Groupset Shimano Ultegra Disc
Brakes Shimano Ultegra Disc
Chainset Shimano Ultegra Disc
Cassette Shimano Ultegra Disc
Bars Easton EC70
Stem Easton EA70
Seatpost Easton EC70  
Saddle Fizik Antares R5
Wheels Mavic Ksyrium Pro UST, Mavic Yksion Pro UST 25mm tyres
Weight 7.98kg (medium)
Contact swiftcarbon.com

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