Handsling A1R0evo Review
Handsling A1R0evo Review (Shimano Ultegra Di2 / Boss Build – RRP £4,299) by Dave Peart
Initial review of the bike-build and impressions over the first few rides
I was in the market for a new road bike with the following must-have features:
- Hydraulic disc brakes
- Deeper section carbon wheels (40-50mm)
- Fully-concealed cables
- Aero profile frame/forks
- More compliance in the seat post / seat stays
Having considered several options including discounted older frames (e.g. Dogma F8 on a CRC clearance special deal) and more modern (expensive) options with concealed cables, I stumbled upon Handsling Bikes via a Google-search and was specifically drawn to the A1R0evo frameset.
After some research and several email exchanges and a phone conversation with Simon at Handsling, I made my decision and ordered the frameset along with a pair of offset tubeless wheels, Ultegra Di2 components and various other parts. Note that custom paint finishes are available, however I went for a stock frame in the interests of building the bike before the onset of winter.
On arrival, I assembled the bike (more below) and have ridden it on several challenging rides, including the Peak District Seashell Trust Sportive (170km / 3000m elevation) and 3 days in the Cotswolds totalling around 400km / 5000m elevation.
So far, I have been very impressed with the feel of the bike – it picks up speed very quickly and is notably quicker than my previous road bike on the flat and descending (climbing performance is similar as I have the same gearing and both bikes weigh around the same).
It also inspires confidence when descending, remaining stable at speed (up to 80 km/h so far) – the hydraulic brakes also give confidence in controlling higher speeds.
Bike detail & build process
Note that the frameset package includes the frame, forks, headset, handlebar/stem unit, a range of stem spacers, seatpost, front and rear thru-axles, integrated seatpost and stem clamps and a fork steerer bung for £1599-00.
One of the key factors for choosing the frameset was the fully concealed cable routing. As expected, (and pre-warned by Simon) this was very fiddly to fit, especially with the headset components – but end result was achieved after a couple of hours.
It works well with hydraulic hoses & Di2 wiring – not sure it would work well with moving cables, but these can be routed outside of the stem if necessary.
Note that the cables exit the shifters, enter holes within the handlebars (under the bar tape), then route internally through the rest of the handlebar/stem assembly, are fully enclosed within the stem spacers (see photo) and headset, passing into the inside of the frame.
Routing cables through the rest of the frame/fork was no issue.
The fork steerer was left 20mm longer initially to allow for adjustments to handlebar height and was subsequently shortened to the final size (by removing the front caliper to enable the handlebars to slide off the steerer such that the steerer could be cut without having to disturb the brake pipes and Di2 wiring).
- The unit provided has much less drop than the units in the photos on the website, which I appreciated for my riding position.
- There is a good system of stem spacers that can be added/removed without disturbing hoses/wires to adjust the height of the bars.
- The grippy surface for shifters is quite low on the bars – for my riding position, I have the shifters over-extending the top of the grippy surface – but not had any issues with them moving.
- There is a neat system for clamping the stem to the fork steerer with a single bolt and an expanding wedge.
- The wheelset includes rim tape & valves (note that extra-long tubeless valves are required if you choose to source your own).
- I have fitted 25mm Continental GP5000TL tyres, which inflated first time with no leaks and have held pressure well over the initial rides.
- The rims have an internal width of 22mm and an external width of 30.5mm at the widest point. The tyres inflated to a total width of 28mm at 75psi.
- Note that the rims have a printed warning of a maximum inflation pressure of 90psi.
- The spokes are offset from the centre of the rims, which allows for more even spoke tensions and stronger wheels.
- The seatpost has a truncated “D” profile and a neat design for the seat clamp, whereby it can accommodate both round and oval seat rails with the swap-out of two parts of the clamping mechanism
- The seatpost clamp is integral within the top tube of the frame and is less likely to lead to a seized seat post.
- As I’m only 168cm tall, I needed to cut 30mm off the length of the seatpost such that it would insert to my desired seat height.
- As I’m using Di2, a Deda battery holder was supplied to retain the battery within the seat post.
- The frame includes a cut-out and a selection of covers such that you can mount the Di2 Junction A (see photo).
- I have also installed the EW-WU111 wireless module, which enables the use of the Shimano E-tube app for gear configuration and firmware updates, it also connects with cycle computers for extra functionality.
- I am using a combination of a 160mm rotor on the front & 140mm on rear.
I also inserted a foam strip into the down tube via the bottom bracket to prevent the Di2 modules, wires and brake hose from rattling against the frame (note this needs to be fitted before the bottom bracket).
I fitted the HSC ceramic bottom bracket, which was straightforward to fit and spins very smoothly.
Component weights differ to the website values as follows:
- Frame – listed as 920g – actually weighs 967g
- Forks – listed as 350g – actually weigh 440g (uncut, without thru axle)
- Wheels – listed as 1432g – actually weigh 1469g
- Bottom bracket – listed as 56g – actually weighs 64g
A complete break-down of the weight of the bike is listed below:
|Frameset||Handsling A1r0evo 52cm||1555|
|Bars / stem||Handsling integrated bar-stem||345|
|Bar tape / ends||Prologo One Touch||70|
|Shifters||Ultegra R8070 Di2||390|
|Front Mech||Ultegra R8070 Di2||129|
|Rear Mech||Ultegra R8070 Di2 – Medium cage||250|
|Di2 wiring / junctions||103|
|Crankset||Ultegra R8000 165mm||672|
|Bottom bracket||HSC Ceramic BB86 24mm||64|
|Wheels||Handsling Offset Hookless 40/45mm||1469|
|Tyres/tape/valves/sealant||Continental GP5000 TL||725|
|Saddle||Prologo Nack Evo 134||198|
|Brakes calipers & hoses||Ultegra R8050||358|
|Rotors||Shimano Ice Tech 160/140||246|
For more information visit the Handsling website.
About the author
Dave Peart organises regular rides for a group of local friends and has written several books on cycling routes and bike specifications.
You can read more of his work here: