SPECIALIZED Langster 2011, £569, www.specialized.com


The 2011 steel Langster is something of a head-turner, with its chromed frame and forks offering more than a nod to earlier Bianchi Pista models. In fact, it sells itself more as an urban-track bike than the others tested here — the bars are track-style swooping drops and the quill stem adds to the retro look.

The frame is Reynolds 520 and, in another nod to track design, there are no braze-ons for the rear brake cable so you’ll have to zip-tie it on. You get a 42T Sugino chainset, with a 16T flip-flop hub. The Mavic rims are shod in Specialized’s own 'flak jacket' rubber, and there’s plenty of other Specialized finishing kit, including an ungainly Langster saddle with copper rivets.

On the road, the Langster handles well: the riding position is neutral, and the bike feels fairly agile and responsive, though it's definitely a touch heavier than some reviewed here. Unfortunately, those stylish bars don’t offer the most comfortable hand positions for around town, especially when you’re riding on the tops where the cyclocross-style brake levers are found.

Pleasingly, there's six sizes available (from 49 to 61cm), which means you should have no problem finding a frame that fits you well. There’s an aluminium-frame version too, for those willing to trade some longevity for lightness.

PROS classic looks, sizing
CONS tad heavy, bars, saddle