Eastway R1.0

Eastway R1

Drivetrain: SRAM Rival

Brakes: SRAM Apex

Wheels/tyres: Mavic Cosmic Elite/Kenda K925

Price: £1,849


"This bike's much more than a bike to get you a few miles into work and back, smooth as that is..."

To most people who’ve been riding bikes in London over the last 30 years the name ‘Eastway’ will be familiar. Many will have raced at the famed Lee Valley circuit — following in the tracks of road legends like Eddy Merckx and Robert Millar — or perhaps taken part in the Beastway mountain bike series. Almost certainly you’ll be aware that the circuit was closed in 2006 to make way for the Olympic Park. Rider, spectator, visitor, the place holds a special place in cyclists’ affections.

Two old friends — Matt Pryke and Stephen Britz — took things a stage further and, drawing on their riding experiences in the local area, developed a range of bikes to which they gave the Eastway moniker. Their first range consists of 13 bikes and our R1.0 test machine sits almost at the top of the pile, pipped only by the disc brake-equipped RD1.0 (£1,999). Below it there’s the carbon R2.0 (£1,499) and two aluminium-framed road bikes under the Cycle2Work threshold, the R3.0 (£999) and R4.0 (£799).

The design ethos of the brand was to produce the “ideal city bike... strong, durable, stiff and super lightweight.” Regardless of whether it’s made from carbon, aluminium or steel, the team insists each model is built for the abuses of urban riding. But a once-over of the sleek R1.0 and you’ll appreciate that its potential is more than just a workhorse. The frame, combining 12k weave and unidirectional carbon, is beautifully finished, each tube shaped for a specific task. In particular the oversized down-tube morphs from triangular at the head-tube, providing maximum strength up front, to ovalised at the bottom bracket to ensure that area remains stiff under pedalling forces; the seat-stays are deliberately thin to provide a measure of comfort on long trips and on bumpy roads.

With its mix of mid-range SRAM components and exceptional Mavic wheelset, the effect is noticeable from the off. The R1.0 is very fast, it accelerates away from lights like a dream and, when the road turns upwards, a faster- than-normal pace is easy to maintain. The gearing — 50/36t chainset and 11-28t cassette — is more than enough for the hills of southern England, in fact climbing feels easy. And, for us, that’s the rub. This bike is much more than a bike to get you a few miles into work and back, smooth as that is. Its friendly geometry, fatigue-busting design and reliable spec make it a perfect match for sportive or challenge rides where you spend hours in the saddle. To call it a city bike is misleading, it’s more of a ‘super-commuter’ with two distinct personalities.

We’ve ridden it hard on riverside cobbles and sprinted up Box Hill, and it’s happy in either camp. And how many city bikes can you name that weigh just under 7kg (15.4lb)? The bike’s available in four sizes, from 52cm to 58cm, and ours felt well proportioned; the stem’s the right length and special mention must go to the own-brand bars — really comfortable on day rides. But we had to swap out the saddle immediately. In terms of value, it can probably only be matched by the likes of Boardman and Ribble. For commuting alone we’d say you’d be ‘over-biked’ and worry about attracting thieves. But it’s an undeniably fun ride. JK