Sarto Classica: Test Ride & Review

By now, most bike aficionados know the Sarto story; a company still run by 80-something Antonio Sarto, frame builder for the pros and contract builder for many famous brands. And now, son Enrico collaborates with father and brings 21st Century marketing ideas in order to grow the business and position the family name at the pinnacle of custom frame builders. After many years of contract frame building for others to achieve the glory, the Sarto family is now selling bicycles with their own marque. Sarto means “tailor”, thus the scissor head badge on our Sarto Classica test bike.

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At first glance, the Classica is a refreshing look with its round tubes and horizontal top tube. It is a classic look much like a beautiful fillet braze steel frame. It is reminiscent of a Moser Leader AX from the ’90s with tubes that blend together in smooth jointures with no sharp edges or disproportionate shapes. This bike is very pleasing to view. On closer inspection, one also is impressed with the details of the carbon construction and the 3K naked weave is both consistent and intricate. This artisan took his time to join the tubes and match the weave. The carbon seams are barely noticeable. Why paint a bike like this when the charm of the Classica is the workmanship? There is nothing to hide on this bicycle frame. The head tube is standard 1 1/8″ non-tapered and the seat tube is round accepting a 31.6 seat post. The rear dropouts are an interesting sandwich style plate that is a functional performance feature to reduce flex in this critical area.

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Our test bike was built with the tried and true Campagnolo Chorus group set. Sure Record would be nice and Super Record even nicer, but Chorus somehow seems appropriate for the Sarto Classica frame: quiet and understated, but performs superbly. Crank set was 172.5 with standard 39/53 chain wheels and cassette gears of 12-25. Campagnolo Neutron Ultra wheel set provide the roll and they were mounted with Michelin Pro Race tires. Deda Zero 100 bar and SC stem provide the steering control and the Astute saddle was mounted to a PMP carbon seat post. The kit perfectly matches the personality of the Classica, nothing flashy but perfect workable performance, reliability and unpretentious function. Most important, it keeps the cost in a reasonable level for most people looking for value in a long-lasting and trusty bicycle.

Now the fun part, the ride. First impression, it is a very light bike with effortless steering. The Sarto Classica reacts to ever-slight steering control but is smooth and predictable. The bike was easy to pilot with a perfect balance, not twitchy but not sluggish. It was easy to steer in avoidance issues like a hole in the road, and certainly its race breeding comes out on hard, fast cornering. The bike tracks in a perfect straight line, even while riding without hands on the bars. The Classica has a calm demeanor but also has an aggressive side when the bike is pushed hard on an upgrade. Seated climbs are very efficient, and the bike seems to roll fast even without raising the heartbeat, but when a had effort is required, the Classica responds. Its stiffness is not pro-level like some of the other Sarto models, but it is stiff enough for the average weekend amateur racer or Gran Fondo cyclist. Comfort is the Classica’s forte as it is clearly a bike to ride all day, even on less that optimal tarmac. There is no noticeable resonance of vibration and the perfect amount of compliance to reduce fatigue and make an enjoyable afternoon of cycling. One would assume this is due to the quality of the carbon material because there are no additives like visco elastomers or rubber inserts to help dissipate vibration. The Sarto Classica marries ultimate quality materials to a traditional geometry with a race bike pedigree. It has a low-key, but classy graphic appeal. This bike is the perfect choice for a cyclist desiring a no-frills, high value bicycle, high on comfort, light and easy to ride, and with a subtle classy look. The Classica won’t stand out in the group ride with fancy shapes, or wild paint scheme, but it will surely bring a smile to the face of a cyclist, knowing he/she has an exclusive artisan-quality bicycle.

Here are the statistics:

  • Frame size: 52cm center-to-center
  • Top tube: 53.5 center-to-center horizontal
  • Seat angle: 74 degrees
  • Chain stay length: 41cm
  • Bottom bracket height: 27cm from ground to center of BB
  • Weight of complete bicycle: 7.1kg without pedals and including bottle cage
  • Frameset price is €2920. Complete bike price is €5325

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Contact Sarto at www.sartoantonio.com 

~ Ciao, bici life~

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