The latest offering from the SpeedX bicycle company — I have to admit that I really like the company name (SpeedX) — is the Unicorn. SpeedX is excited to announce a lightweight carbon road frame with road imperfection soaking comfort, fully hidden cables, and integrated electronics.
Let’s start with the weight of the frame. SpeedX claims a weight of 870 grams which is respectable but still 180 grams heavier than the Trek Emonda SLR and 160 Grams heavier than a Cannondale Super Six. One thing for sure is that it beat the Specialized S-Works Tarmac by being 27 grams lighter. I am not going to knock SpeedX because two other frames are lighter than it because it’s still in the lightweight neighborhood and paying its dues. If you’re looking for a lightweight frame than the SpeedX Unicorn is worth the look-see.
SpeedX tells us that the bike soaks up road imperfections through its proprietary VCS system which incorporates flexing seat stays and seat tube along with high modulus carbon fiber inserts designed to act as a shock absorber. My concern with this “stacking” of high modulus carbon inserts is how likely is it to start squeaking or rattling? I have not ridden the bike so I cannot tell you if this VCS system actually performs as promised but with Trek and Specialized having their own road bike “suspension” system SpeedX decided to throw their hat into the ring. As for the flexing seat stays and seat tube, well that’s not really anything new as other manufacturers have incorporated such engineering into their road bikes. In short, it does appear that SpeedX has achieved success in engineering their own road bike suspension system.
Fully hidden cables? It appears that they nailed that one.
Now for the real reason that we’re intrigued by this bike — the electronics, and their integration into the bicycle itself. Let’s start with the built-in power meter. As anyone into cycling knows, most manufacturers of road bikes make the frame and things like brakes and groupsets come from either Campagnolo, Shimano or Sram. In the case of the Unicorn, SpeedX went with Sram E-Tap Hydro HC group. SpeedX then developed their own power meter and attached it to Sram Red’s QUARQ crank-set. I can only guess that the reason they developed their own power meter, and not use an off the shelf power meter, was for seamless integration of it to their SpeedForce Cycling computer of which I’ll cover later. I will admit that it is a nice feature if you’re a serious cyclist and looking for all of the training data you can get. Power meters are pricey and as such most cyclists do not use one. Having this integrated is a nice feature that could pay dividends to a novice or professional cyclist.
SpeedForce cycling computer. I don’t know about you but I have more than one road bike. The built-in feature of the SpeedForce computer is a nice idea but I did not see a method for putting it on another bike. My Garmin follows me, not only from road bike to road bike but road bike to any of my three mountain bikes. I like the flexibility that my Garmin allows so the built in feature of the cycling computer is actually a turn off for me. That aside, the Speedforce computer seems to have all of the information that anyone looking to get the most out of their training and gaining the edge on race day would want. Add to that the power meter readings and I think any user would be pleased. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike the SpeedForce I just wish it was more flexible towards other bikes.
At the beginning I mention some bikes that compete with the Unicorn and one area I feel that SpeedX nailed above the other bikes mentioned is styling. This thing looks like a high-end race bike that’s fast just standing still. I’ll give it two thumbs up in the styling department.
I think SpeedX has a winner here in in the lightweight road bike department. I would caution everyone that frame weight is not the only measure of a light road bike. I would sooner lose weight on my wheelset and put that weight on the frame. I did not see the wheels weight listed but I would hope that the set is sub-1450 grams and something closer to 1300 grams would be awesome. A few hundred grams added to the frame is imperceptible as opposed to the wheels. It’s that rotating mass that’s going to kill you on the hills more than a few hundred grams on the frame.
All in all there really isn’t anything “new” here only a better-integrated package and like any bike out there, it’s all going to come down to what appeals to you aesthetically and functionally.
The SpeedX Unicorn is currently crowdfunding on Kickstarter with an entry price of $3199USD which is $300USD off the retail price. You can hit the link below to find out more and to back the project. If you do end up buying one, let us know what you think afterward. We’ll be trying to get our own review unit so we can test it out but this is a pricey piece of equipment and we may not get our hands on one.Source: Kickstarter
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