BIKE REVIEW – CONVOLUTION ASPERA ROAD BIKE

Shaun George Reviews

What is the definition of a good bike? Before even looking at specs and groupsets, we turn to foreign bike manufacturers for options. This is primarily due to the misconception that Made in India bikes aren’t up to international standards. This is fast changing with a lot of positive changes that have taken place in the Indian cycling industry.

Convolution is one of those changes (check out our post on Convolution Bikes introducing the brand when they first launched in India)

Based out of Pune, Maharashtra, Convolution is looking to deliver high quality, lightweight bikes at reasonable price points. They also have the ability to create bespoke, fully customizable bikes that are perfectly suited to Indian riders. The brand is tech-driven and specializes in delivering lightweight, performance-driven bicycles.

We recently had the opportunity to ride and review their road bike – the Convolution Aspera.

CONVOLUTION ASPERA ROAD BIKE OVERVIEW

At first, we were a tad skeptical when the Aspera came out. A new entrant to the market; Convolution had to prove itself and prove to others why they are better than other highly reputed manufacturers already in the business. All that skepticism was put to rest when we received our test bike.

First and foremost – the bikes are manufactured in India. Hence there are no additional taxes and import duties added onto the price tag. This basically delivers a bike that is a lot more affordable and delivers a lot more bang-for-the-buck for the aspiring road biker. Retailing at a starting price of Rs. 64,550/- and going up to Rs. 89,550/- at the time of the review, the Aspera is a package that offers great value for money. Customizability is another hallmark of the brand with all their bikes. Sizing, colors, graphics, and groupsets – you name it they’ll do it.

The spec sheet is quite drool-worthy – top-notch components at a price that no other manufacturer can match. The Aspera also weighs in at a super impressive 8.60Kgs for an L sized frame. Almost superbike territory – Great stuff!

THE FRAMESET

The Convolution Aspera is manufactured using triple-butted 6061 hydroformed aluminum. The quality of the welding is evident from the visibly smooth edges on the frame. The frame geometry makes it an ideal endurance road bicycle for medium distance to long-distance riders. The Aspera is available in five sizing options – Extra Small, Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large. Bike Sizing and Bike Fit (know more about Bike Sizing and Bike Fit) are important considerations while going for a road bike and it’s great to see the brand offering good sizing options for the Indian rider.

The Aspera also comes with what Convolution calls RCRP (Right Carbon at Right Place). This technology is basically a bladed carbon fork that is very light, stiff and at the same time compliant. The specially designed seat stay absorbs vibrations during the ride. The fork design coupled with the unique seat stay structure ensures that the frame remains stiff whilst also absorbing a good amount of feedback from the road, without passing on the vibrations to the rider. It also helps in optimal power transfer and delivers snappy handling.

It’s important to note that the fork on the Aspera has mounts for pannier racks and can support up to 32C tires – front and back. This adds to the versatility of the bike – allowing this to be converted into a fantastic touring rig, the perfect commuter, a brevet companion and a race machine – all without having to invest in multiple bikes.

The frame is quite light for a road bike in this category. At 1,350gms for an L sized frame, the Aspera is at par with most good road bikes across the world. Being light and stiff, the Aspera is great for climbing. During our tests we also found the bike to be quite responsive and zippy, making it ideal for racing too. The Aspera also has a fair amount of compliance built into its frame which still maintains quite a comfortable ride.

All the bikes roll out with good quality paint jobs – important as most bicycles take a lot of abuse and it’s critical that the paint stays and also protects the metal underneath. Unfortunately, we didn’t see internal cable routing on this frame; it would’ve been a nice add on since a lot of road bikes these days seem to opt for internal cable routing for multiple cosmetic and technical reasons. The decals on the frame also are a bit clunky at this point and it’s something that the brand is working on improving.

COMPONENTS ON THE BIKE

Touchpoints are always an important aspect of a bike. It’s that part of the bike that you spend most of your riding time on!

Saddles are often a sore point for most riders. There’s this misconception amongst newbies that more padding = more comfort. This is actually quite the opposite, the softer foam will actually press up against your nerves and cause more discomfort and may actually do harm. The Convolution Aspera comes stock with a Velo VL 1376 saddle. The saddle is generously padded and is not something we see on road bikes. Although there was no central cutout it was still comfortable on long rides with the high-density foam doing its job well.

We felt that the bar taping on the Aspera wasn’t as plush as we’d like it to be and a lot of chatter from the road transferred to our palms. Perhaps slightly thicker bar tape would help reduce this slight discomfort.

The Aspera has a really good set of brakes – the Tektro TRP R539 over the groupset specific brake calipers in order to fit wider tires. We didn’t face any issues with the brakes even under hard braking tests. We’re not sure how long these pads will last but they seem to be of good quality.

WHEELSET

Wheels heavily influence your ride quality, acceleration, and handling characteristics. Which is why good quality, lightweight wheels are good to look out for. A good wheel must be light, have good smooth-rolling bearings and be strong.

The Convolution Aspera has impressed yet again with their choice of a wheelset. A set of Reynolds aluminum clinchers is what you get on all the Aspera models. The Reynolds wheelset with the Aspera ticks all these boxes. We were quite impressed with the ride offered by the wheels. They’re also impressively lightweight compared to other wheelsets on bikes in this category weighing in at about 1.7kgs for the pair. Most other bikes in this category come in at around 2kgs. Sealed bearing hubs are a feature you almost never see on bikes at this price point. Good on Convolution for providing the rider with such high-quality wheels.

Tires are another super important component on a bike. The Maxxis Refuse 700X28C tires are what you get stock on the bike. Not the fastest rolling tires but are definitely very comfortable. It would’ve been nice to see 25C tires come stock with the bike but then again the Aspera isn’t an all-out race bike. it’s more endurance than race. The grip around corners is very confidence-inspiring and the additional width helps with handling and delivering a uber comfortable ride.

THE GROUPSET

The Aspera comes in 4 different flavors of groupsets currently. You can opt for either a Shimano Sora, Tiagra, 105 or an Ultegra build. The bikes are competitively priced and well worth what you pay for. The Sora is ideal for the budding roadie – while seasoned riders should look at groupsets beyond the Shimano’s 105 groupsets. The frameset and components remain the same throughout the different groupset variants with the bike losing weight, improving on ride quality and snappier shifting/braking performance as you go higher up the range.

We test rode the Tiagra model and as expected from Shimano, the groupset delivered smooth shifting and we feel is a great choice for riders who race and ride long distances occasionally. While higher-level groupsets deliver a better ride, component replacement costs do end up being a tad higher and are something to keep in mind while deciding.

WARRANTY

Convolution operates, manages and manufactures right out of India which is great because any issues or queries will be handled by Convolution promptly. We see some fantastic warranty support provided by the brand and feel this is quite groundbreaking and not something other local brands have been able to offer to our riders.

Convolution frames come with a lifetime warranty for the original purchaser on any manufacturing defects. This covers free repair or replacement, in case of any problem with the materials or workmanship on the frame. This offer is further extended to the second owner and is valid for 2 years from the original date of retail purchase.

Decals, paintwork, and the carbon fork have a 2-year warranty on them.

ASPERA SPECIFICATION

Frame: Al6061, hydroformed, double pass smooth weld tech, BSA threaded BB, with replaceable RD hanger.
Forks: RCRP tech carbon bladed, Al 3D forged steerer
Brakes:  Tektro TRP, R539, forged alloy caliper 47-57 mm drop, Alloy cartridge brake pads: P420
Groupset: Shimano Sora/Tiagra/105/Ultegra
Wheels:  Reynolds, 700C, 20/20H, straight-pull aero spokes, 30 mm deep, 17 mm wide, 9/10/11 speed, 1550 gms for pair.
Tires:  Maxxis refuse, Maxx-shield with kevlar protection, 700x28mm
Saddle:  Velo VL 1376, Nylon fiber high-density foam
Weight: 8.80kg (approx)

OUR VERDICT

The Convolution Aspera is a high quality, value of money road bike that’s perfect for most Indian riding conditions. A good quality frameset, fantastic wheels, relatively decent touchpoints all deliver a great ride. Being a local brand, we found the Aspera to have the highest groupset spec compared to other bike brands in this category, especially at the Tiagra and 105 groupsets. All indicating that you don’t need any immediate upgrades to the bike.

In the market for a good quality road bike – this might just be your dream ride!

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