Some people are really obsessed with brand names. Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Mercedes-Benz, Rolex—names that announce loud and clear that the owner has lots of expendable income. The cycling equivalent would be Italian names like Pinarello, Colnago and Bianchi, what many would regard as the “Ferrari of bikes”—race proven, highly refined, built for speed and dead sexy to look at. And just like a Ferrari, high-end Italian bikes are prohibitively expensive for most people with a moderate income.
How well does a $15,000 road bike really ride? I rode a Pinarello Dogma2 with Campagnolo Super Record EPS and carbon wheels once. It was nice, but not $15,000 nice. In fact, it rode only slightly better than my $3,500 Trek Madone with Dura Ace 7800 mechanical shifting. Sure, there’s more technology in the Pinarello, but $11,500 more? I think not. There’s a serious law of diminishing returns at play here, and in the road bike world—not taking into consideration carbon fiber race wheels—that law really seems to take hold around $5,000. Anything beyond that price is largely caught up in the cachet of a brand name.
Most new bike buyers with a realistic budget are getting fed up with bicycles that retail for more than a new Nissan Versa, so they’re seeking out lesser-known brands that mate a quality frame and fork with a terrific component spec.
One of these brands is Tommaso, a name that was born in the 1980s when Columbus steel tubing and lugs were de rigueur for frame building. Tommaso bikes were built in Italy by hand for distribution in the American market. Today, the Tommaso name is completely unrelated to the original owners, and instead of handmade steel, the brand focuses on offering high performance carbon fiber framesets made overseas—but still designed in Italy—using quality Toray T700 carbon fiber, the same material used on many high-end brands with well known names and lofty price tags.
A Tommaso Superleggera Team road bike was sent to us by online retailer Giantnerd, the company that owns the Tommaso brand. Giantnerd has recently gone through a complete change of ownership, and the new owners want to make clear that the company is completely different than it was only a couple years ago, putting complete focus on customer service and satisfaction.
As proof of this commitment, Giantnerd offers up items that other manufacturers simply don’t. Take for instance a lifetime warranty on the frame and fork—something that raises an eye in an era when bigger brands only offer a two-year warranty.
Giantnerd also offers seven day test ride period when you buy a bike with the “Ready to Ride” build kit (more on that in a bit). For seven days you can ride the Superleggera, and if you don’t love it, they’ll take it back and pay for the return shipping as well.
At a mere $2,549, the Tommaso is an incredible value, especially when you look at the component spec—a mix of Shimano Dura Ace, Ultegra, 105 and Mavic Aksium wheels. How do they price it so competitively? By selling direct, Tommaso cuts out two levels of supply chain, saving both the company—and the customer—money.
“We painstakingly reviewed every component on the Superleggera to ensure each one helped maximize the performance of the bike a whole, but at the same time didn’t drive the cost of the bike to a level that just doesn’t make sense for the average rider,” said company president Michael Eddy.
For fit, the Superleggera features a downward sloping top tube for better standover height while still offering plenty of cockpit room to stretch out. Thanks to its Toray T700 construction and shorter tubes, the Superleggera is surprisingly lightweight, with the frame tipping the scales at a mere 950 grams. Fully built without pedals, a medium size Superleggera weighs in at only 16.4 pounds.