Bottecchia could be commended for attempting to address some of the issues that make an aero bike uncomfortable. The company could also be accused of trying to do too much to combine aero speed with all-rounder comfort; as a result, the Tourmalet is an unbalanced experience between front and back.
The tall, 170-millimeter head tube noticeably flexes under heavy pedaling, leading to both twitchy steering and an unsettled ride quality. While that flex takes some of the jarring edge off the front of the bike, it required some muscling in tight corners, like we had to steer, then steer again to get through even wide sweepers.
It’s possible some stability could be added with deeper profile wheels that add front-end stiffness, especially considering the Tourmalet’s head tube performed decently in the lab with only .67 millimeters of deflection. That’s high when compared to the best aero bikes out there (like Trek’s Madone, with .41 millimeters of deflection), but not a bad number by any stretch.
Yet the very stiff bottom bracket and short (402-millimeter) chain stays make for lively sprinting. Combine that with a long top tube (570 millimeters, size 54) and you’ve got the makings of a sprinting rocket. Yet that same long top tube made the bike a bit cumbersome and could have contributed to the odd steering feel up front. We felt consistently laid-out, especially on a bike that is generally a size down from what we normally ride.
The bike rides more like an all-rounder with endurance touches than an aero bike built for pure straight-line speed. Perhaps with a set of deep wheels and more dramatically shaped tubes, the Tourmalet would feel more aero-oriented, or with a more compliant rear end — flattened chain stays and seat stays could help — it would feel more like an all-rounder. It’s clear Bottecchia was shooting for the porridge that’s just right, but it did so by combining the porridges in one big pot, with mixed results. We just couldn’t quite figure it out.
Component Highlights: Shimano Ultegra drivetrain with 52/36 crankset and 11-28 cassette; Ultegra direct-mount brakes; Fulcrum Racing Sport wheels