Words by Neil Webb; Photos by Chris Catchpole
When the Pinnacle brand began, there was a carbon bike topping the range. It has been a few years, but the black stuff has made an appearance again in the form of the Evaporite range. The Evaporite Two we have ridden here is the middle option featuring the frame present across the range, hung with Shimano’s 105 10-speed groupset.
Rather than developing an entirely new frame, Pinnacle has sourced an available frame from a reputable Taiwanese manufacturer. While this could be seen as lazy, it keeps costs down, resulting in the great value carbon/105 combo for less than £1.5k.
The choice wasn’t rushed. Pinnacle’s white coats have gone for a slightly taller head tube and longer wheelbase for improved stability over longer distances. That said, the 17cm head tube on our 55cm test bike can’t really be classed as long. You can still get a serious drop from seat to bar if required — only seriously flexible race-heads will need lower.
Similarly, the extra length all comes in the front half of the bike — a mix of fork rake and down tube length. The short rear end makes sure the bike never feels sluggish, but the extra half inch up front takes the edge off: perfect as you get tired or over-excited on a descent.
There are also plenty of up-to-date details. A tapered full-carbon steerer tube adds stiffness to the front of the bike, making it easier to hold its line in corners. Typically, flex in the front triangle of a bike can mean it has a tendency to run out wide on corners. This is disconcerting at best, downright dangerous at worst.
There’s also a BB30 bottom bracket. This direct bearing attachment system for the cranks allows for a wider down tube to be fitted, offering potential power transfer benefits thanks to the flex reduction. We were happy to find out that bottom bracket flex wasn’t an issue on this Pinnacle.
To make the most of the system, a dedicated crank is needed and, on all the Evaporite range, a real BB30 crank is used, meaning you benefit from the stiffer, oversize 30mm bottom bracket axle with its resistance to the twisting forces that can afflict lower grade cranks and axles. This FSA Gossamer crank is mated to Shimano’s 105 groupset. Visually similar to the top-flight stuff, its performance is practically indistinguishable from the more expensive Ultegra. It may be a few hundred grams heavier, but the cost savings are almost pound for pound. It’s a great compromise and has good longevity to boot.
Great shaped FSA compact bars also mean its super comfortable whether on the hoods or drops. The shorter gap between the two makes the lower, aero position far more accessible than you’d imagine.
One key element to the quality of the ride is the wheel and tyre combo and it’s a good indication of the knowledge of the people behind the brand. Rather than go for a showy deep section wheel set for showroom appeal, a Shimano RS20 set of hoops has been chosen with 16 front and 20 rear spokes laced to a 24mm deep, offset aluminium rim (the spoke holes are not in the centre of the rim to improve stiffness thanks to a more even spoke tension). Covering these are a pair of Kenda’s Kaliente tyres.
As Kenda’s top road offering, these 190g tyres combine Iron Cloak technology to add a decent dose of puncture resistance with L3R Pro rubber compound for fantastic grip. These two choices are one of the major reasons the Evaporite Two feels so good to ride. The low rotating weight (thanks to light tyres and rim) means the wheels respond well to effort, accelerating very well. This makes climbing easier and the stiffness under both cornering and power should not be discounted.
A solid-feeling wheel doesn’t squirm when turning, giving the rider confidence, and the lack of sideways flex means they don’t rub on the brakes when out of the saddle. One of the reasons expensive bikes feel so much better to ride than cheaper ones is due to the quality of the wheels. By speccing the Kalientes on RS20s, Pinnacle has added a rare level of performance to this £1,500 bike.
To round up what is, on paper, an off-the-shelf bike any company with the right contacts could build, the impressive final results are down to some great knowledge of the difference small details can make.
Get the basics (shape and key details) of the frame right and matched with decent contact points the bike will feel great under a rider, flattering beginners and offering more experienced riders real performance. Top it all off with great wheels and you simply have a winning combo.
Evaporite One £1,199
For £300 cash back, your groupset gets down-specced to Tiagra 10-speed with FSA Omega chainset, and those all-important wheels are traded down to Alex ALX-200. But it’s the same carbon frameset, so you still get all the stiffness benefits of the BB30 and a great platform to build on in the future when funds allow.