By Colin Dennis
Sizes: 43 – 59cm
Size tested: 53cm
Bottecchia: as Italian as Parmesan, Pisa and cheesy politicians, but if you like your road bikes tasty and drama-free, you might want to switch your vote in favour of this Latin beauty, the smooth running Ultegra 8AVIO EVO.
The Bottecchia 8AVIO EVO is the Italian manufacturers entry-level carbon bike and is available in no less than eight different configurations. Four Campagnolo: Veloce, Potenza, Athena and Chorus variants, and four Shimano: Tiagra, 105, Ultegra/105 mix, and our test model, the full Ultegra version. Not sure about the need for the extra Ultegra/105 mix version though.
I won’t debate the virtues of Campagnolo over Shimano, or not as the case may be. As always, it’s down to personal preference or taste.
What each bike does share though, is a shapely, Toray, Uni-Directional carbon frameset with asymmetric rear stays and internal cable routing that is playful on the Tarmac, yet comfortable enough to reduce rider-fatigue on long club, or sportive rides. And this is exactly where the Bottecchia 8AVIO EVO is aimed.
And when you know where you’re aiming for in a crowded market, then the likelihood of hitting your target audience is much higher. So, top marks for Bottecchia for covering all component preferences and price points.
There’s no denying it, the Bottecchia 8AVIO EVO, despite its long-winded name, is blessed with a Toray UD carbon frameset that is pleasing to the eye yet responsive and comfortable in performance.
And at a claimed 950g, that’s good going for a competitive frame at anything near this price point. Making, to my mind, the lower the price and specification of subsequent 8AVIO EVO models, the better the bargain!
With hardly a straight line in its design, there’s plenty of angulation and morphing from round to square tubes to keep the eye busy and appreciative. The seat tube flares from round to square as it gets nearer the bottom bracket for greater strength without having to build masses of material down there to gain the strength required to counter pedal torque.
The frame is built to accept a Press-fit 86 bottom bracket. This system not only helps keeps the bottom bracket area uncluttered, but also refused to either creak or squeak - which is a bonus, of course. Not being a big fan of press-fit bottom brackets due to too many creaks on expensive (bought) bikes over the years, it's great to experience a press-fit system that as yet, refused to make a noise.
Flat, leaf-like rear stays are paired up with vertically flattened chainstays to balance out rider comfort in the saddle and stiffness to transfer rider effort to the rear wheel. OK, it’s a compromise, but this is just what you’d expect from an endurance event bike. I liked the way that Bottecchia have kept the cable lengths short and they disappear into the frameset without any superflous cabling. There was no noisy, or annoying cable rattling from inside the frame or forks at anytime during our test period of about four weeks.
The accompanying straight bladed forks of the 8AVIO EVO share the same carbon UD construction as the frame, and as you would expect, come with a tapered steerer to help beef-up front end stiffness. But at only 390g, and just like the frame, the forks fit nicely into the lightweight department giving the frameset a well-balanced feel fore and aft.
Angles and dangles
There are no great surprises when it comes to the geometry of the 8AVIO EVO. But that’s no bad thing. The back-saving 54.5cm toptube of the 53cm bike is clearly steered towards endurance riding, as we’ve already agreed that this is where the 8AVIO EVO is marketed.
Riders who are new to cycling, or having a history of back ache will appreciate the more relaxed elements like the compact toptube and reach to the bars and, more importantly, the brake levers.
Wheelset and components
Let’s get the wheelset issue out of the way, shall we? Unless you are building your dream bike, or have more money than sense, the wheelset fitted to just about every ‘off-the-shelf’ bike there is, will come with wheels deemed as incompatible with the rest of the bike.
Get over it! I have seen cheaper wheelsets fitted to more expensive bikes than the Fulcrum Racing Sport’s gracing the Bottecchia 8AVIO EVO.
The lightweight frameset alone makes up for any misgivings of the wheels. If you don’t like them, consider the possibilities of upgrading them at the time of purchase at your, local, friendly IBD, after all, that’s where you bought the bike, wasn’t it?
Bikes are generally built to accommodate a certain price point, and in cycling, sadly we tend to gauge the perceived value of a bike by its groupset, rather than the wheels which have a far greater influence on the quality of the ride than a groupset. And we only have ourselves to blame.
The ubiquitous 11 speed Ultegra groupset needs little in the way of introduction to many riders. It is faultless in its performance and has saved the life of many mediocre bikes. Here though on the Bottecchia 8AVIO EVO the Ultegra is the perfect balance of cost, durability and fit-and-forget performance to which we are used to from the Japanese giant.
Over the years, the Ultegra groupset has come close to Dura Ace when it comes to smoothness and reliability. It’s not a million grams away in weight either. I particularly like the feel of the brake, shift levers. There’s plenty of ‘meat’ to them and I feel offer a sense of comfort, or more confidence when braking hard. The modulation, or brake-feel is as good as any other system out there.
I appreciate where Bottecchia are coming from when it comes to the chainset selection. I would happily fit a 52-36 semi-compact chainset, just as Bottecchia have done to the EVO, if I was building a custom bike. I’m trying to be impartial here, but I’ve become to appreciate the compromise of this set up. It's popular with the Pro Teams these days, so why leave it there?
Paired up to the 11/28 cassette, there’s plenty of low-gear options for all but the nastiest of climbs. Notwithstanding rider capabilities, of course.
The Vittoria Zaffiro 25mm tyres offer a good compromise of comfort and grip. Possibly not the best tyre for wet conditions, but none the less are happy as Larry over rough Tarmac where traction is often at a premium.
Contact points are important, especially in the saddle. Bottecchia here don’t disappoint as their Pro Team saddle is firm but friendly, if you know what I mean? Can’t say that about the bar tape, though.
There’s not much in the way of shock absorption for the hands with the stock bar tape. I would look at replacing it as soon as possible. Black bar tape might quieten down the fiery look of the colour scheme somewhat, too.
No gripes with the rest of the components. The seatpost, stem and handlebars are all sturdy, reasonably lightweight and fit the look of the 8AVIO. The black paintwork on the components is hardwearing and doesn’t scuff or wear off too easily either.
In sumarry: on the face of it, the combination of the full Shimano Ultegra groupset and lightweight carbon frameset alone, makes the Bottecchia 8AVIO EVO a very attreactive package if you line it up against some of the similarly specced bikes out there.
Italian passion and styling are clearly built into Bottecchia's range of road bikes, and I feel the 8AVIO EVO can hold its head high with the best of them. The small issues of tyres and bar tape are inconsequential compared to the amazing value of the lightweight carbon frameset. So if you're looking for an Italian bike without the associated high price tag, the Bottecchia 8AVIO EVO makes short work of the opposition.