Sensa’s direct availability with Merlin Cycles in the UK means that the Dutch brand’s bikes are priced as aggressively as the likes of Canyon and Ribble. The new Guilia Evo combines an all-new aero-optimised road frame and the latest mechanical Ultegra for an RRP originally priced at £2,499, which is impressive, what’s more impressive is that it’s currently on offer at just £2,079, a 15 percent discount.
- The Sensa Guilia Evo Ultegra is one of our Bike of the Year bikes for 2018. To read reviews of the other contenders and the categories tested across road, mountain and women's bikes, visit our Bike of the Year hub.
We were fans of the previous two generations of the Guilia; they were curvy shaped but very much a traditional road bike. The new Evo shakes things up a lot. The new chassis uses Sensa’s top-grade carbon fibre specification built into a very angular muscular aero-optimised design. The straight-legged fork seamlessly blends into a tear drop profiled stout head tube, which then blends into squared-off and truncated aero-shaped down tubes and top tubes.
The seat tube is again aero shaped and the seatpost blends into this, held in place by an angled 5mm hex bolt that sits under the junction between top tube, seat and rear stays. A normal concern for aero posts is that in adverse conditions they are prone to slip, and as the Dutch share a similarly damp climate to us in the UK it’s good to see Sensa address this issue first by coating the clamp surfaces of the post with a sandpaper-like grip tape to hold it, and rating the seat clamp bolt to a big 12Nm of torque. Once you’ve got the post tightened up to the required amount it won’t slip.
The rear seatstays are dropped slightly, their square profile is interrupted by an aluminium bracing insert to add further stiffness at the rear brake, where Sensa has opted for the excellent Shimano Ultegra direct-mount brake, it’s the same deal up front too.
These new brakes follow the design of the new Dura-Ace direct-mount and offer superb stopping power and feel, they centre perfectly every time and offer more tyre clearance than a traditional caliper. Theses really are the next best thing to disc brakes for all-round usability and I applaud Sensa for designing the Evo around them.
The new Ultegra works just as well as ever and I like that Sensa has opted for a 52/36 combined with an 11-28 gearing combination. The Evo is at its best when you really put the power down, its stout muscular and firm frame responding with a real snap. That said Merlin does offer options on the drivetrain, so should you want to go lighter or heavier on the ranges it’s up to you.
The geometry is classic road stuff with parallel 73-degree angles. The wheelbase stretches out to just over a metre by 5mm with 410mm chainstays adding a bit of balance to the ride quality.
Handling-wise the Guilia Evo is pretty neutral, the steering is easy without being twitchy and holding a line through a corner feels stable, though any corrections mean you do have to wrench on the bar a bit more than faster handling bikes, such as Cannondale’s Evo or Specialized’s Tarmac.
The Supra RA Pro wheels add a welcome bit of aero shape to their 28mm deep alloy rim, and bladed spokes for good measure. Like most modern cartridge bearing-equipped hubs they spin smoothly and the freehub pickup is quick enough.
I did manage to induce a bit of flex into the rear wheel under sprints or out of the saddle climbing, which did mean a bit of unwelcome brake rub. They’re shod with the excellent Schwalbe One tyres in a welcome 25mm diameter.
I expected the Guilia, with its over-sized angular aero frame, to be an unforgiving ride, yet the firm feel isn’t fatiguing or trying. It is helped by the luxurious compliance of the Schwalbe rubber and decent contact points in the San Marco Aspide saddle and well-shaped Supra SSL alloy bar, but I still think that the chassis is cleverly put together with aero advantages with few of the downsides.
At its price tag the Guilia Evo is a fine purchase, and at £2,079 it’s a veritable bargain that’s exceptional at speed, a better all-rounder than its aero pretensions would suggest and totally deserving of high praise.