Reviewed: Scapin Kalibra
The kinks and swoops and intriguing lines long associated with Italian carbon fiber frames are all present on Scapin’s Kalibra. So is race-worthy geometry, another thing to which the Italians have steadfastly held. Quick handling and good looking; we’re already two-thirds of the way to excellent.
The final third, speed, is taken care of too. The Kalibra has some aero features, including a shaped downtube and tapered head tube. It has just the right amount of integration, which is good for going fast, and disc brakes, which are good for slowing fast.
Scapin dates back to 1957 but you would need to be lucky or quite determined to find one in the U.S. prior to a few years ago when Stage Race distribution began bringing them in. Now, you can order a Scapin online and have it shipped to your door. You can even get custom paint, if you want to spend an extra $500. The frame is made in Asian but the paint will be applied in Italy.
You might actually be able to afford that because prices on the Kalibra are notably low. Guess how much an Italian carbon bike with Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 will cost. $9,000? $10,000? Nope. The Kalibra is $6,900. You can get one with Ultegra for $3,500, or 105 for $3,000. Granted, the wheels are not great — Miche Race Disc, and you pay more for anything better, like the carbon Hed wheels on our test bike. But that’s still reasonable in a bike market that has felt increasingly nutty in the last few years.
The look. It’s not exactly traditional, right? The fork bows forward and down and reminds me of a person bent over, flexing, like in those Assos Man ads. The left arm of the fork is a bit stouter. Clearly, it’s been doing more bicep curls so as to better control braking flex.
The cluster of tubes near the seatpost cross and intersect a few times. Inside the hole they leave is a chuck that tightens the seatpost. It’s a lovely little bit of integration and works quite well. No slipping and easy adjustment. The placement of the clamp is dropped down from the top tube, providing a bit more seatpost length, allowing more flex and a more comfortable ride.
The Kalibra is quite comfortable, particularly the back end. The front end, with those Assos Man fork arms, is very stiff. It’s a bike for going fast, so that’s exactly as it should be.
A short head tube (160mm on a size large) adds to the Kalibra’s race-bred feel. Handling is superb, again largely thanks to the stout fork arms. It’s quick and light, with a neutral head angle of 73-degrees and a tight wheelbase of 999mm. You won’t be disappointed in the corners.
Flat-mount disc brakes are the norm, and the Kalibra has them. As are 100×12 front and 142×12 rear thru axles, and it has those, too. The discs allow clearance for tires as large as 30mm, though the frame seems happiest (in a figurative, perhaps philosophical kind of way) with something in the 25-28mm range.
There are a lot of folks out there riding the same very good bike. One from a big brand. There’s nothing wrong with that — good bikes are good. But every once in a while we come across a very good bike that everyone isn’t riding, and, somehow, that seems just a little bit better.
(Note: ScapinUSA.com is the correct website for US-based customers.)