Earlier in the Summer, British athlete and 4 time Gold medallist Laura Trott announced the launch of her new bike brand, in association with Halfords. The range includes entry level, budget concious hybrids and road bikes for the female cyclist in mind. Maria David has been out on the roads testing the new Laura Trott RD2 for TWC, and here's how she got on....
Everyone wants a piece of Laura Trott these days. Well, with her range of bikes now available that wish can now be granted, at least in spirit. Of course, your choice of bike is not purely based on having one with your idol’s name embossed on it. You may also be interested in its quality and specifications too. Trott’s RD road bikes were launched earlier this summer, and we have now had the chance to test out one of the models, the RD2 (£699), so here’s our assessment...
At first sight the bicycle is pleasing on the eye. The indigo-blue and pink flourishes set against the grey frame give just a subtle hint that this is a women's specific bike. And then the Silken style handwriting with the name and initials of the multiple gold medallist Olympian become the give away.
There are noticeable female specific touches, such as the cut away Selle Italia Dash Flow saddle modelled specifically to the female anatomy, that make you feel reassured that women’s needs are catered for, too. The geometry is said to be designed to meet the needs of the average woman, too. This is something that Laura Trott herself was keen to have as a fundamental part of the bike design in order to inspire more women to get on a bike.
The RD2 is the mid-range road bike out of the Laura Trott’s stable, with the RD1 being an entry-level model while the RD3 is for the performance road rider.
Made of lightweight alloy, the frame is sturdy and provides plenty of stiffness. Cables are routed through the inside of the frame, which greatly improves the bike aesthetics and is a relief for those who might be a bit clumsy when it comes to bike husbandry!
The finish of the moulding is slightly coarse in places, but it is not unreasonable for a bike within this price range. Having a female-specific frame means that the bike is better adapted for those with longer legs but short trunks, so the reach to the handlebars is not a stretch. I was on the 51.5cm and it felt perfectly fine, even after two hours in the saddle. When riding other bikes I use a 52cm, but having that extra 0.5cm shaved off still fitted me well, and it has now made me wonder if 51.5cm is actually the ideal size for me.
Carbon forks add further to the stiffness of the frame, thus giving extra control, particularly when cornering. Furthermore, you get good cushioning as the forks can absorb the shocks when going over bumps in the road.
Spacious clearance between the wheels and frame is underlined by the fact that the bike came with 25mm tyres thus giving extra cushioning for those bumpy roads.
The RD2 is equipped with a Shimano Tiagra group set, so it is still of a good enough quality for your training ride. A compact chain-ring is pretty much the modern day standard on road bikes, and the RD2 has not deviated from that convention, making it perfectly doable to do high-cadence spinning if that is your pedalling style.
The 50/34T compact chain-set coupled with 12-28T cassette will give you a broad choice of gears, whether you are putting in a shift on the flat or riding up a steep hill – something which I am grateful of when riding the hills of South London! Furthermore, having 10 speeds means that you get a gradual increase in ratios so you can find the exact gear to suit the prevailing conditions.
My experience of Shimano Tiagra has been mixed, sometimes having to deal with clunky gear changes, however riding the RD2 I did not encounter this problem. Shimano have made some notable improvements to their Tiagra gearing system with the most recent iterations, the shifters are now shaped more like the more expensive 105 versions and the front mech cage is longer which makes gear changes quicker. The improvements shone though - flicking through the gears was very smooth and surprisingly pleasurable!
Fitted with 20mm-rim wheels, these are the same as the higher spec RD3 so there is no compromise when it comes to getting good rolling and solidity. Of course, on a bike at this level, you're never going to get the very best in terms of wheel-speed-weaponry - but the high spoke count will mean these are reliable for a beginner. Looking down the line, if you wanted to drop the weight of the bike overall, improve handling, comfort or aerodynamics, you'd probably start with a wheel upgrade.
When lifting the bike up, the first thing that struck me was how much effort it was to get it out of the box. Weighing in at 9.5kg, this explained why it felt more of a struggle. The bike I usually ride is around a kilogramme lighter.
This weight is about average for a bike at this price point - the more you spend, the lower the figure on the scales - even the Laura Trott RD3 (£899) comes in at 9.1kg thanks to the upgraded Shimano 105 groupset and Shimano RS11 wheelset.
Weight isn't everything though. You can have the lightest bike in the world, but if it's not stiff enough it won't use your available leg power to its best efficiency. So, I swung my leg over the machine to test it out on the roads.
I took the RD2 out on my usual local loop, a 30-mile round trip from South London through the lanes near Sevenoaks, Kent which takes in a few steep hills. I also did a few longer, flatter rides through Sussex, and finally I rode the RD2 through central London.
All this provided the chance to see how the RD2 responded on the varied roads.
One key test was the road near Biggin Hill Airport known as “Jack-in-a-box" on Strava. It involves a steep drop with a sharp bend down Jewels Hill, immediately followed by a stiff climb up Saltbox Hill. As expected, the bike picked up high speed on the descent, and I felt confident as the bike held the road very well when cornering.
Then came the 16% climb up towards Biggin Hill Airport. As mentioned earlier the RD2 is a little bit heavier than what I am used to, but when riding on the flat roads I didn’t notice any difference in effort needed to reach 18-20mph. On the climb I was honking out of the saddle more than on my regular bike, however that could have been more due to my lack of fitness than an extra 1kg of alloy! Such gradients are so tough that even on a full carbon fibre bike you will always be working pretty hard!
Riding through town on a road bike is always fun as you can steam ahead of the traffic while motorists and trucks are caught up in mass queues. The RD2 is light enough to allow a fast acceleration away from the lights without making much effort.
I said earlier I appreciate the internal routing of the cables. The only thing is that at the point where the cables enter the frame they form a loop which protrudes a bit far out for my liking. Whenever I stopped at lights the loop would rub against my knee – something that I must admit got on my nerves after 10 lots of lights! However, this could be easily solved next time the cables were replaced (Halfords will have to have a word with the mechanic who built the bike).
The RD2 is a great mid-level road bike, and if this is your first foray into amateur road cycling this bike does the job perfectly well. Everything is there for you to have a enjoyable ride while still getting in quality training.
Although I did not try this bike in a long distance 5 hours+ cyclosportive, I would not rule out using the RD2 as I found it a comfortable bike. I don’t know how likely you are to get four gold medals when riding it but it will certainly get you around town and through the lanes efficiently.
For more information, the Laura Trott RD2 is available here for £699
We're beginning to see a lot more entry-level budget bikes coming to the market, and where they were often overlooked for being poorly made or having cheap components, manufacturers are starting to find a good balance between future-proof frames and quality durable specs.
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