What is it?
A bike from a German brand, named after a French mountain, the Izoard Pro is Stevens’ peak-smashing racer. Taking its title from the 2,360-metre high Col d’Izoard in the Hautes-Alpes, there’s not actually much about the Izoard Pro’s design to preclude it from being a great all-rounder, as well as a climber.
Instead, the mountain-referencing nomenclature is likely an attempt by Stevens’ marketing department to highlight the Izoard’s minimal 7.6kg weight. With a price that makes you wonder if it wasn’t assembled in a far-flung part of the world with lax labor laws, the Izoard is actually finished off in Germany, where last time we checked most people’s standard of living seemed pretty peachy.
So who’s this Steve Person?
Stevens is a Hanseatic brand that builds everything from MTBs to World Championship winning racers. Born in a Hamburg bike shop 25 years ago, all its bikes are still designed and engineered in the city. Famous for creating some of cyclocross’ most-coveted bikes, Stevens scored big wins with both Mathieu van der Poel and Sanne Cant recently claiming World Champs aboard its Super Prestige model. Its extensive road offering includes the aluminium Aspin, Stelvio, and San Remo. The carbon-fibre Izoard Pro sits atop its conventional range, a tier below its customisable racing builds.
Why’s the Izoard so good?
In order to get down to such a low weight, the Izoard doesn’t scrimp the way some other bikes at this price point do. You get a full carbon frame, with a pressfit bottom bracket and internal brake and shifter cables. The fork is also made solely from the black stuff, rather than using a more basic alloy crown or steerer construction.
The overall design is notable for the tapered seat tube which bulges out toward the bottom. Allowing for a large joint with the bottom bracket shell and downtube, boosting stiffness and drivetrain efficiency. At the bike’s front end, the lines as the main tube flowing backwards from the tapered headtube are pleasingly angular while at the back, skinny stays provide an aesthetic contrast, while cutting down on road buzz. Taken all together, this a bike that’s comfortable, but light enough not to hold you back on extended climbs.
That’s a tall chainset for the mountains.
For you perhaps. Fausto Coppi and Louison Bobet, monuments to both of whom adorn the upper slopes of the eponymous Izoard, would have given their back teeth for such a luxury. Making do with a 46×19 lowest gear, they still managed to tap their way up with superhuman ease.
By comparison, fit modern riders will likely find the easiest gear of 36x32t on the Stevens adequate to tackle the mountain’s prolonged but not particularly steep slopes. Provided courtesy of a pro-compact 52/36t chainset paired to a wide n-32t cassette, this is a combination suited to aggressive riding in the high peaks.
Keep the pedals turning on the way up and it’ll allow you to blast down the other side without spinning out. It’s exactly the sort of situation the wide-ratio compatible 11-speed Ultegra groupset was designed for.
Won’t I want disc brakes in the mountains?
Maybe. In fact, if it starts raining, then definitely upgrade. But at this price, you ain’t gonna to get them. At least not without adding a ton of weight while also taking away from the Izoard Pro’s other strengths. As it stands, the Shimano Ultegra callipers fitted are as good as you can possibly get. We feel about them the same way we do about the regular 9mm dropouts. Sure it’d be good to have oversize bolt-through alternatives, but they’d add mass and complexity while being overkill most of the time.
What about the wheels?
Given the price, you’d forgive them for being a bit ropey. Except they’re not. The DT Swiss P1850 wheels are a cut above what you’d have reason to expect. Wide, light, and fast spinning, they include the brand’s excellent quick-release skewers. Part of Stevens’ efforts to collaborate with other German manufacturers, they also come fitted with tyres from a third German brand – the mighty Continental.
Its Grand Prix tyres employ the same folding bead and Black Chili rubber compound as its top-of- the-line models. Coming in a medium 25c width, it’s an impudently efficient combination on such a comparatively cheap bike.
And the finishing kit?
The Izoard is topped off with own-label stuff- and none the worse for it. The Scorpo-branded carbon seatpost is a great item to have, helping drop weight and maximizing comfort. The aluminum bar and stem, meanwhile, are exactly the right shape and look neat. The tape is black, the saddle inoffensive in both shape and padding. Certainly, nothing to put you off what is a very, very good-value bike.
We just don’t know why they didn’t name it after a German mountain. Something snappy like the Östliche Karwendelspitze, perhaps?
Frame: Carbon fibre SL
Groupset: Shimano Ultergra 11-speed
Brakes: Shimano Ultergra Calliper
Chainset: Shimano Ultegra 52/36t
Cassette: Shimano Ultegra 11-32t
Bars: Oxygen Scorpo Aero
Stem: Oxygen Scorpo Road
Saddle: Oxygen Triton
Seatpost: Oxygen Scorpo Carbon
Wheels: DT Swiss P1850
Tyres: Continental Grand Prix25c