Specialized Aethos: new ‘non-race' bike breaks the weight record
CYCLING WEEKLY|October 15, 2020
Specialized Aethos: new ‘non-race' bike breaks the weight record
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan evaluates the Aethos and its 585g frame
Michelle Arthurs-Brennan

If you get paid to ride your bike or your sole motivation for cycling is bagging Strava bragging rights, stop reading now. The brand new Specialized Aethos – the world’s lightest ever production disc brake road bike frame – is probably not for you.

If you ride a bike for the sheer enjoyment, because it makes your soul sing, then read on. Round tubes are back, my friends.

A number of cycling’s favorite GC bikes have had an aero facelift this year as engineers have figured out how to make a bike cheat the wind while hitting the UCI weight limit of 6.8kg. From a purely technical perspective, you can’t argue with the premise: low weight minus drag equals speed.

However, in my opinion, many have carried a theme: maximised forward propulsion at the expense of the very top slice of ride quality. Thankfully the antidote is here.

The new Specialized Aethos is unashamedly under the UCI weight limit and it’s not aero. However, it’s stiff, lively, and responsive and the geometry matches that of the Tarmac. It looks like a bike from the last decade, except it’s mortifyingly light. The only obvious quibble is: if it rides like a race bike but isn’t for racing, who is it for?

All about ride quality

Engineers at Specialized reportedly analysed over 100,000 frame designs, focusing on how stress travels through a frame and how it can be optimsied in the pursuit of the holy grail of ride quality if aerodynamics is removed from the equation.

The result is a frame that wouldn’t have looked out of place 10 years ago. There are differences though. Areas of the frame which respond to stress have been altered to be more conical. Alongside the tube shapes, the engineers used larger, longer and more continuous plies; it wasn’t necessary to build up layers of carbon at stress points – bringing the frame weight down to 585g (in the lightest ‘Jetfuel’ paint job).

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October 15, 2020