Grit.cx tester Alex has a short but sweet love affair with Storck’s top end frameset. Over to him…
Model: T.I.X Platinum G1
From: Storck GB
Price: Frameset: £2949, Ultegra build: £4899
Tested by: Alex Moloney
Test Duration: Three weeks.
When asked to test the top-of-the-range cyclocross bike from Storck I immediately replied with the ‘heart for eyes’ emoji – the same one you use when your other half texts asking if you want takeaway tonight…
Before receiving the bike, my knowledge of Storck extended no further than they were a German company producing high end road bikes. As a company that once held the world record for the lightest carbon frame, their two-wheeled products command justifiably high price tags, the T.I.X Platinum coming in at just shy of £3,000 for the frameset alone. Realistically, this wasn’t a bike that I’d be able to afford to purchase myself, so I was looking forward to swinging my leg over the cycling equivalent of a supercar.
With great price comes great responsibility, though. Any minor flaws or quirks that could be forgiven on a bike a quarter of the price of the Storck become more fundamental on a bike than proclaims to be the best of the best. So, it was with some trepidation that I undertook my first rides… would I have rather have left the T.I.X as a showroom beauty, rather than introducing it to the real world?
You can read a little more about the bordering on obsessive approach to design and testing that Markus Storck and team put into their frames over in our first look. Essentially, with the T.I.X they wanted to make the ultimate cx racing machine.
The T.I.X is available in four framesets. The aluminium T.I.X Alloy G1, and three grades of carbon ranging from the Comp G1 to the Pro G1 and finally our Platinum G1 test platform. It is available as a frameset alone for £2949, or Storck GB offer full builds. This Ultegra build comes in at £4899. Let’s just take stock at that frameset cost again. The vast majority of the full builds that the grit.cx team are testing at the moment come in around the same price or lower. I’m not sure if it is ever possible to justify quite such an expense on a bike for purely thrashing through sand, mud and fields for an hour at a time – particularly when at the sharp end, swapping between two bikes is likely to save more time than any marginal benefits that a single bike brings.
Fortunately, there more than a few nods to practicality and all-round ‘gravel’ use. It features relatively modern ‘cross geometry which contributed to a balanced ride, both on and off road. There is plenty of clearance for 40c tyres without the need for a shoehorn. There is also a precision and attention to detail that graces this bike – the kind of stuff that no one in their right mind is going to appreciate while their heart tries to escape their chest on the race course, but it’s nice to know is there.
Starting with that Platinum level frame and fork, the carbon fibre “proportional tubing” sees tube thickness and diameter varied carefully in all the right places so, irrespective of the frame size, stiffness and comfort are felt by every rider be they small, tall, thin, “big boned”, racing snake, or a mixture of the above. Furthermore, directional dependent stiffness is achieved by the transverse-oval tube shaping. Put simply… there is some up and down flex for comfort, but minimal twisting, energy-sapping flex.
Throughout the frame all cables are internally routed and a further six inches of routing through the fork keeps the overall feel neat, tidy and super smart – even getting my Mum’s hard won approval! Storck has gone with a 41 x 86.5 mm press-fit bottom bracket. According them, this simultaneously sheds weight and the greater BB width gives increased stiffness and an extra couple of mm for increased tyre clearance; could make all the difference in a muddy race. I’m always wary of press-fit BBs, but there was no creaking from this set up over the (admittedly short) test period.
Storck is not a company to blindly adopt other’s standards. Recognising the stiffness benefits of bolt-thru axles, it opted for a 100×9 mm on the front and a 135×10 mm on the rear. Marcus Storck’s reasoning? There is no benefit to the more usual 10 and 12mm standards and they add weight. Fair enough. This does, however, slightly limit the wheel selection available currently. Several companies are on board with these novel axel dimensions though, so you’re not being pigeon-holed too badly. Alongside DT Swiss, ENVE, Industry Nine and American Classic have all followed suit in providing compatible wheelsets.
One nice touch is Storck provides a specially designed minimalist T25 key that tucks into the front axle. Not only does this remove both thru-axles, but the bike is specified with T25 bolts wherever possible. Anyone that has used half their multitool to adjust bar height/angle will be rejoicing already.
Two bottle-cage mounts, mean that adventures are encouraged, and longer road training rides weren’t an exercise in finding taps, cafes and garages to stay hydrated. I felt obliged to source my lightest, most minimal holder so not to mess with the bike’s feng shui. I mean you wouldn’t put those fake car eyelashes on an Astin Martin right?
Storck Platinum T.I.X G1 Frameset Spec
- T.I.X Platinum Frameset Including T.I.X Platinum Fork
- CFR frame with reinforced CFR bottom bracket, dropout and headset interface
- Integrated headset 1 1/8” – 1 ¼”
- Through Axle Rear: 135/10mm
- Sloping Top Tube Geometry
- Internal Cable Routing
- BB Pressfit 41 x 86.5mm
- 31.6mm Seatpost
- Post Mount Disc Brakes
- Electronic or cable gearing
- Through Axle Front 100/9mm
- Frame weight from 890g Fork 400g (claimed)
- Available sizes: XS, S, M, L, XL
- Price: £2949
Storck seem to throw as much design time and expertise into their components as they do their frame sets. The T.I.X came with a full complement of own-brand finishing kit. The Storck MLP150 seatpost weighs in at a paltry claimed 150g (400mm) and is designed to offer comfortable flex. It can be adapted for regular saddles, or this Monolink saddle fitted. Likewise, the Storck Roadbar RBCs have an astonishing amount of flex designed in. Clever carbon lay ups mean that this flex is more pronounced when riding over rough ground, say, than it is as you heave up on the bars while pedalling.
The Ultegra gearing and hydraulic brakeset almost feels a little utilitarian in comparison to the rest of the bling build. It functioned flawlessly and is a great choice for those who still crave a double chainring. For racing I would have preferred a single ring, but as a more flexible choice to tick of road miles, the double is still king.
Rolling up to the scales the 59cm full build came in at a mind-boggling 8.1 kg; a number that could easily be reduced with a different wheel set, tyres and single ring set up. Wowsers.
I received the bike just before the start of the ‘cross season, so promptly pushed it into service as a do-everything bike, taking it out on my usual tracks and trails, exploring further afield into the Dales and even fitting some slicks and riding the local road chain-gang on the T.I.X.
My positioning on the Storck felt well balanced, weight very much in the middle, but allowing some aggressive weighting of the front through corners. The reach on the 59cm encouraged a natural and comfy rider position on the hoods while Storck’s own carbon mid-drop bars gave me a nice shape to enable an all out attack posture once in the drops.
At 6’2” I found the 59cm frame and set up perfect. On paper the bike may be considered slightly large for my height, but at no point did I feel overstretched or uncomfortable. This might be worth noting when buying – although it’s unlikely that many will be buying a frameset of this price without test riding, or at least carefully checking measurements.
I was impressed with how comfortable the bike felt on longer rides. I’ve ridden stiff, efficient ‘cross bikes which have left me beat up over a longer ‘adventure’ ride. No such worries with the Storck. On shorter rides I really felt the need to attack every climb and rough section as I would in a race. What the T.I.X does incredibly well is accelerate with astounding efficiency. It felt as though every kilojoule of energy spent was perfectly exchanged for speed and power. Try as I might, I was falling in love with this bike.
As I grew to know the T.I.X, my expectations rose. I tested it on a tough trail centre climb with plenty of narrow and rocky switchbacks, large randomly placed rocks and steep gradients. Short of motorised hubs I’m pretty sure this bike is the closest you can get to mechanical doping without breaking the rules, but how much difference to my normal times could it make? Having the luxury of the 2x drivetrain, I welcomed the use of the 36T ring and set off up the narrow ascent expecting to soon unclip and carry to the top. I remained seated pushing a fairly low cadence strangely finding myself gliding over pretty much everything the climb had in store. The bike took rough terrain in its stride as flex through the seatpost and bars deadened any harsh bumps while stiffness through the frame and fork kept momentum flowing (I guess that’s directional-dependent stiffness at work). Larger obstacles (boulders) required small out of the saddle efforts with the 8.1 kg weight making for an easy on-the-hoods hop. After every steep and slow winding turn, the power I was able to transfer back into each pedal stroke was phenomenal. The ease in maintaining speed meant it was possible to lean into turns rather than turning the bars and fighting to keep balance. With no dabs (well maybe a couple) I found myself at the top of the climb smashing my previous times.
When in full cx mode I found the transverse-oval tubes made for a particularly comfy carry on the shoulder and its 8.1kg was quite literally light work to lift. The DT Swiss spline wheels we received with the bike, although not top of the range, certainly did the trick. The tubeless-ready set up was all too tempting, but as I wanted to swap between slick and ‘cross tyres, I stuck with tubes. Remarkably over the duration of the test and not riding tubeless I only fell victim to a single front puncture, mainly down to poor line choice. Luckily in no time, thanks to the nifty T25 key tucked in the front axle, the wheel was off. It’s worth mentioning that the axle cap is free from the fork, so be careful not to drop this when removing the wheel… without seeing where it lands… in the leaves… when it’s dark… Seriously, though – while a very minor design flaw, it seemed incongruous with an otherwise impeccably considered bike.
The bike descends well and you’re encouraged to push the boundaries further than you might expect with the combination comfortable frame, forks and bars. The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes are dependable stoppers, but are perhaps a little off/on in comparison to their SRAM counterparts. This is not necessarily a criticism, but it is easier to inadvertently lock a wheel. I did find myself carrying more speed than I normally would into rough sections. There was definitely a tipping point where the light weight frameset and thin ‘cross tyres reminded me that this is not a trail bike. It was occasionally easy to get bounced offline or pitch over the front wheel on steep and loose sections. Realistically, this was on the edges of what a ‘cross or gravel bike should be expected to deal with – and a credit to the T.I.X that it pushed me into the kind of terrain I wouldn’t have otherwise considered riding on a ‘cross bike. Back in the real world though, it crossed my mind on more than one occasion that this is a frighteningly expensive bike to break in a crash. Did it lead me to holding back? Probably not. Would it have done if I owned one? Well, I’d think twice about using it in the Three Peaks, despite being a great tool for the job.
After suitably testing the T.I.X offroad, I fitted some 32c Continental Grand Prix 4 season road tyres. What better way to test road capabilities than taking it on the Leeds chain gang and simulating E,1,2 race pace for a couple of hours? It certainly kept up, held its own and drew attention from the other riders. The combination of high volume tyres and comfortable frame meant that potholes become almost unnoticeable. *Note to self* – this doesn’t mean you should stop pointing them out for those less fortunate behind you, as a few angry voices reminded me.
When I first received the T.I.X, I saw it as a potential ‘cross/do it all gravel bike, rather than a road bike replacement as well. I’m now left thinking that it would be the ultimate all rounder for all of my drop barred needs, dirty or not… While there is clearance for mudguards, I don’t think I could bare fitting them to a £3000 frameset though.
Three things that could be improved:
- The fork axle nut isn’t captive… meaning it can get lost when removing the front wheel
- Thru-axle standard limits wheel choice
- I wish I could afford to buy one!
Three things that we loved:
- Understated looks and attention to detail (like choice of T25 bolts where possible)
- Climbs exceptionally well when seated on the rough stuff and acceleration out the
saddle is unbelievable. That’s two, isn’t it? Lets just say efficient power transfer
- One of the most complete all-rounders I’ve ridden. ‘cross, trails, road are all excelled at.
Returning to where I started, did a supposed superbike live up to high expectations? My answer is a resounding and barely qualified yes. The price is still frightening, and out of the reach of many, but if you are willing to spend the cash, then I believe you will enjoy the benefits of an extremely capable frameset. While it is a superb race bike, its ‘This is Cross’ moniker is perhaps a misnomer. I doubt many will buy the T.I.X purely for an hour’s racing every winter weekend, and in many ways I’m glad. It would be shame for a bike so capable to only get time between the tape. Regardless of where it is used though, there aren’t many bikes that are likely to genuinely make you faster, whether on gravel, mud, or tarmac. For me, this was the most impressive thing about the T.I.X.
Now, where’s my piggy bank? I’m off to see how far I am from being able to afford one of these.