Review: Storck Absolutist 1.0 Road Bike

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BIKERUMOR REVIEW: The Storck Absolutist debuted in 2009 as a “budget” frame from the German manufacturer known for its ultralightweight, high performance road bikes.

The Absolutist comes in two frame models, the 0.9 and the 1.0, which follow the Storck numberclature by referring to their claimed frame weights: 980 and 1050 grams respectively.  The Vanderkitten women’s professional cycling team races on the Absolutist 0.9, and the 1.0 is the same basic bike, it’s just a slightly different carbon layup.  The 1.0 we reviewed has a $2,250 MSRP for the frameset (frame, Storck’s Stiletto fork and tapered inset headset).  Our test bike was built up with full SRAM Rival, Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels, Michelin Pro tires and a Ritchey WCS bar, stem and seatpost with a Fizik saddle, which is a packaged offered through Hawley for $3,999.

We rode this bike for several months, logging more than a few hundred highly enjoyable miles on it and coming away very, very impressed.  Although several riders threw their legs over it, Daniel and I put most of the saddle time on the Storck, and like too many of the bikes we get to review here, neither of us wanted to send it back.  In fact, after pulling it out of the box and building it up, I rolled up to Blockbuster to grab a flick and ended up doing a 20 mile ride…it was just that nice.  Read on for the full review…

WHAT’S IT WEIGH?

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We mentioned the spec our test bike came with at the intro, so the next logical question is “what does it weigh?”

For a $4,000 bicycle with a frame of this quality, 17lbs is pretty good.  The Absolutist 1.0 is shown on Storck’s U.S. website with Ultegra and Schwalbe tires (all else the same) and is listed at 16.67lbs but sells for more.

These weights are for our size 59cm test bike.  Here are all available sizes and frame dimensions:

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FRAME DETAILS:

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One of the high points of Storck’s frames is how efficient they are.  Even at the bottom of their hierarchy, the Absolutist would keep sprinters happy.  They accomplish this with their proprietary carbon construction methods, some of which you can see in this video and post.  The outwardly visible result is oversized downtubes, tapered headtubes, a stiff monostay seatstay and massive chainstays.

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Starting at the front, the headtube has a bulbous shape that hides a tapered 1-1/8″ to 1-1/4″ steerer tube and flows flows into the large diameter top- and downtubes.  Storck’s frames use size-specific tube shapes and sizing, so each frame is tailored to the size and (averaged) weight rider it’ll fit.

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Shifter cables run down the massive round downtube.

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Rear brake cable runs under the top tube, and cables are managed by brushed aluminum guides.

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Moving back, the junction of the top tube and seat tube is oversized, which flows into the massive mono stay above the rear wheel.

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This area is also a good spot to show the UD (unidirectional) carbon fiber layup of the monococque design.  It’s reeeeal pretty in the sunlight.

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Both the seat- and chainstays are shaped and thick.  Every bit of power goes into forward motion on this bike, but surprisingly, it wasn’t harsh even on less than perfect roads.

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At the business end of the stays is Storck’s trademark rear sliding dropouts, and on this frame they’re full carbon with metal inserts where the hub and skewer make contact.  At first, the rear entry takes a little getting used to (insert juvenile joke here) when changing wheels out.  Marcus Storck says the design pulls the wheel into the frame as you pedal, which means it requires less clamp force from the skewer, thus putting less pressure on the bearings.

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The chainstays are oversized, shapely and very tall:

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The bottom bracket area is big. Real big.

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The frame uses a standard 68mm bottom bracket shell. Surprisingly, Storck’s current lineup uses 68mm BB shells all the way up until their top of the line, $8,550 Fascenario 0.7 IS frameset, which uses a BB90 setup for Storck’s PowerArms crankset.  Even without the almost common BB30, you’d have to be a clydes crusher to feel any flex out of the Absolutist’s frame.

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Up front, the Absolutist 1.0 comes with Storck’s Stiletto Aero fork (approx. 360g).  The ultrawide legs provide solid tracking and virtually no fore-aft flex.  Even over rough sections and small (ie. shallow) potholes or torn pavement, you can hit them at speed and barely see the axle move backward.

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They’re fairly thick throughout, tapering wider as you move up the legs, too, which I’m guessing will keep them in UCI 3:1 compliance, though we didn’t measure.

HOW’S IT RIDE?

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TYLER’S REVIEW: (6’2″, 178lbs)

As I mentioned in the intro, my first ride on this bike was only planned to go up to rent a movie, but I ended up riding about 21 – 22 miles just because the bike rode so well.  On another ride, I covered about 38 miles in what seemed like 30…I was actually surprised when I mapped the ride on Google afterward. It had seemed like such a short ride, which means the bike is either crazy fast or such a joy to ride that time flew by.  I say both.

As tested, it had a very long 130mm stem, which led to some neck and lower back strain on rides longer than 90 minutes.  A shorter stem would have helped a lot, as would a shallow-drop handlebar. Getting in the drops put me way too low, which was exacerbated by the long stem. Overall, the bike did feel just a bit small under me. Not so much that I couldn’t ride it well, but a 60cm option would be nice.

Despite the oversized tubes and simply massive stays, the bike never beat me up.  In fact, I didn’t note any harshness throughout the test period.  Given that the cockpit is aluminum, no vibration damping or bump softening was coming from the seatpost, stem or handlebar, which makes the comfortable ride that much more impressive.

In corners, the bike is very stable and predictable, which inspires confidence.  Sit up with hands off the bar and the bike rolls along in a straight path (which isn’t always the case with bikes that have a racier geometry), and handling never felt twitchy. It never felt slow, either, striking a great balance that rewards all types of riding.  That’s German engineering for you.

The Absolutist can sprint, race and handle long rides with aplomb. I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a high performance bike that, save for a few fit modifications, is ride- and race-ready out of the box.

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DANIEL’S REVIEW: (6’0″, 167lbs)

After Tyler’s test rides, the Stork Absolutist 1.0 was set up a little large for me. After swapping the stem to a 100mm and playing with seat positions I was definitely more comfortable.

The component spec on the bike was pretty straightforward base performance stuff.  It’s a sexy looking bike with the gloss carbon and blue decals, but it’s sort of a sleeper.  This is one of those bikes that doesn’t necessarily jump out at you with any overblown features or attributes, it’s just a solid ride.

The only issue I had was a total blowout of the rear tire during some parking deck sprints. It sounded like a shotgun and about made me jump off the bike!

I really can’t cite any major accolades or drawbacks. It’s a comfortable, affordable bike from a brand known for high performance, lightweight frames. I would have no problem doing long rides and races on this bike.

BIKERUMOR RATING:

The funny thing is, neither of us can pinpoint any one particular thing that stood out that made the bike such a great ride.  Well, perhaps the fork…it’s amazingly stiff and tracks like it’s on rails.  The Absolutist corners well, pedals efficiently, goes fast and somehow doesn’t beat you up over gravelly, winter-worn country roads.  The fact that team kitted hammerheads on the group ride will keep checking it out is pure bonus, and the frame is worth upgrading as your talent and/or budget grows. Overall it’s just a really great bike to ride, and ultimately, isn’t that what we’re looking for? We give the Storck Absolutist 1.0 a solid 4.5 Thumbs Up!

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RANDOM NOTES ABOUT PRICING AND SIZING

At this price point, the Absolutist is a fair deal for the frameset given that it’s from a mid-sized builder.  For about $750 more you can get the 70g lighter Absolutist 0.9, but for that cost difference you can drop more weight via smart component selection.  You’re getting a great fork and a great frame, and it’s hard to put a price on the “exclusivity” of riding something that few if any of your buddies have.

For a bike spec’d like this, $4,000 is a bit on the high side for a Rival-equipped bike, especially when compared to bikes from big brands like Trek or Specialized that spec a lot of house-brand components and wheels. Bang-for-buck, it’s already spec’d with Ritchey WCS cockpit bits, which are fairly light, so you could upgrade to the Mavic Ksyrium SL wheelset (or any other 1,4XXg wheelset) and save about 280g – 300g (2/3lb) over the Equipes.  Like the frame, you’re paying a bit more for name brand spec throughout and the fact that it’s coming from a mid-sized company.  In the end, our hunch is you’d be happy having spent a bit more on the Storck, and we all know you’re going to try to beat up your local shop on the price anyway.

So, what would make it better?  Well, for me, a few more options at the tall end of the sizing spectrum.  Jumping from a 59cm to a 63cm could leave a range of riders out of luck, myself (Tyler) included.

Comments

storck - 06/24/10 - 2:41am

Indeed, this bike is one of the fastest, lightest and best bike that is out there in the market. :) I’ve been trying to replace its cradle though, since It’s a little bit high for my height.

LATV2000 - 04/17/12 - 7:20pm

I PURCHASED ONE OF THOSE FRAMES AND WHILE IT WAS A LOT OF FUN TO RIDE IT DEVELOPED SOME IMPERFECTIONS IN THE OUTER CARBON LAYER SO YOU CAN SEE THE INSIDE OF THE FRAME . WROTE TO STORCK AND THEY SAID IT IS NORMAL , HOWEVER I HAVE QUIT RIDING IT SINCE. JUST DON’T FEEL SAFE ANYMORE. THE WARRANTY PROCESS WITH A STORCK , IS NON EXISTENT . THEY DON’T CONSIDER THOSE HOLES A MANUFACTURING DEFECT . I UNDERSTAND THAT THOSE CARBON FIBERS ARE WHAT OFFSET THE TORSIONAL FORCES IN THE FRAME BUT I MIGHT BE WRONG.PICTURES UPON REQUEST F NEEDED

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