With the Sage Cycles Skyline, what you are getting is a made in America titanium frame from a well-known maker built up with a quality, custom spec.
Sage Cycles Introduction - Brewed in Oregon
Sage Cycles is a small brand based out of Portland, Oregon building handcrafted, made in the U.S. titanium road and cross bikes. Although they were founded only two years ago in 2013, their reputation and popularity has been growing by leaps and bounds. They just unveiled the Sage/Lucky Envelope Brewing cyclocross team for the 2015/16 season. Their four rider squad will contest races in the Pacific Northwest, National Championships and Cyclocross Single Speed World Championships. But their knowledge and expertise isn't confined to the cross world, as we had a chance to ride and test the Sage Cycles Skyline titanium road bike.
All Sage bicycles are available as a frameset or with an array of custom build options. David Rosen is the founder of Sage Cycles and he explains his brands philosophy, "Stronger and lighter, our titanium frames gives your ride a level of comfort and responsiveness unlike any other, and it's being offered to our customers at attractive price points. From drivetrain and wheels to handlebar, stem and saddles, Sage Cycles will create the machine for your ultimate ride."
As soon as we received our test bike, we could tell that the welds and frame work were top notch. The frames are 3/2.5 aerospace grade titanium built by Lynskey, thus the "Aged in Tennessee" on the inside of the right chainstay. We noticed an interesting weld on the seat tube just above the cool little owl logo. We asked about this and we were told it is a gusset to strengthen the junction of the top tube and the seat tube. The tube above this weld has a thicker wall diameter and the tube below the weld are thinner to allow the use of lighter tubes and to provide more comfort. Even the head badge is quality with a nice blend of Ti and two shades of carbon.
The other thing we noticed even before riding this bike was the weight. Or rather, the lack of it. Granted our size 50 is smaller than average, but on our shop scale it came in at a very svelte 16.46 lbs! We couldn't wait to get her out on the climbs.
When it comes to spec'ing your bike, Sage Cycles works very closely with the customer to be sure a sensible, quality build is created within the rider's budget. For our testing purposes, we wanted something not too high-end and not too inexpensive either. Equipped with a Shimano Ultegra drivetrain and smart wheels, our bike as shown would retail for $5900. The Skyline is also available as a frameset only (sizes: 50cm, 52cm, 54cm, 56cm, 58cm, 60cm, 62cm) for $2500. Spec highlights include:
- Enve 2.0 carbon fork - Enve ride quality is well known and this fork compliments the bike very well and will last while the owner upgrades other parts. Matches well with the Enve carbon seatpost.
- Chris King headset - Simple, solid, classic. Durability and build quality are well known.
- Full Shimano Ultegra 6800 groupset - for this price point, Ultegra is key. 11 speed drivetrain is bullit-proof. Ultegra brakesets give great feedback and the Ultegra cranks and rings shift reliably and confidently.
- FSA SLK stem and Energy Wing Pro handlebar
- Mavic Ksyrium SLS clincher wheels - Not the cheapest wheelset, but wheels are not the place to try and save money. Light, responsive and fast. These wheels will last you many, many miles.
Continue to page 2 for more on the Sage Cycles Skyline and full photo gallery »
Sage Cycles Skyline - the ride of Ti
As expected, the Skyline was pure joy on all the climbs. Whether it was out of the saddle stand-and-hammer efforts or long seated grinds, this bike moved with a quickness and snappiness better than steel and different from carbon. To be honest, I have spent time on plenty of steel road bikes and a quite a few choice carbon ones, but this is my first time riding a titanium road bike at length. Having ridden and tested a few titanium mountain bikes, though, I was already familiar with the Ti ride quality. Titanium has a lively, snappy feel to it that is similar to steel but the ti is a bit more precise. When compared to carbon, titanium has a similar level of stiffness and efficiency, but it is a bit more forgiving. A balance of both worlds, if you will.
As light and quick as the Skyline was uphill, it was no slouch downhill either. In fact, with the committed riding position (with the handlebars low), the bike and wheels combined to give a confidence-inspiring feel and level of control that was top notch. When we really go moving and hit certain road imperfections, the titanium frame and carbon fork worked together to keep us on our line. The Mavic Yksion Pro tires also worked well on our less than perfect Bay Area roads when really leaning into the corners.
The carbon clips are an elegant touch for the cable routing options. Easily removable for those who may eventually switch to wireless.
At the same time, when going out for longer rides, we moved the handlebar up a bit to give us a bit more comfort and the Skyline was pleasant enough to take out for your local weekend Gran Fondos. Rosen gives us a bit more insight about his frames, "Our frames are designed to be comfortable over long distances, yet snappy enough to race," Rosen said. "Our geometry and ride characteristics have been refined and honed to a fine point so that the rider does not have to think about how the bike rides - they can just enjoy the ride. We are riding enthusiasts and racers ourselves and the bikes are made for riders like us."
In short, the light weight, quality parts and dialed geometry really worked well in all facets of our riding. We did no gravel grinding with the Skyline as it is really designed as a pure road bike. For riders interested in getting dirty, we recommend checking out the Sage Cycles PDXCX crosser.
The extra weld above the owl logo is to strengthen the joint between the two tubes of varying thickness.
Purchasing a Sage Cycles bike
For those of you who are thinking about buying a Sage Cycles road or cross bike, they have recently revamped their website to make determining what size you need easier as well as equipping the bike just the way you want. Sage Cycles uses a six-point quality control inspection process, which is performed on every frame. Each frame is made from 3/2.5 aerospace grade, sport certified titanium tubing and is meticulously checked for alignment tolerances and overall weld quality. After the frame has passed inspection, Sage personally head badge and decal each bike.
Sage Cycles Skyline - Bottom Line
With the Sage Cycles Skyline, what you are getting is a made in America titanium frame from a well-known maker built up with a quality, custom spec from a small brand that really listens to their customers. If you have never ridden titanium before, you owe it to yourself to try it, especially if you are looking for a road bike that will last. The ride itself is comfortable and efficient and with the right build, you will actually seek out climbs because they will become easier and more fun. The only drawback is that this level of quality, durability and looks doesn't come cheap. But for a bike that can last the rest of your life, it's a great long-term investment.
5 out of 5
For more information on Sage's lineup of Cyclocross and Road bicycles, visit www.sagetitanium.com.