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Eastway ST1.0 2014

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Tested by Marc Abbott

Review

Sometimes, life in the slow lane can be a refreshing change. This steel offering from Eastway (named after east London's famous cycling circuit) proves that a little extra bulk needn't impact greatly on riding enjoyment. Nudging north of 12kg (the firm's claimed weight for the 56cm model), it's inescapable that the ST is losing out on modern (mainly carbon bikes) by at least a good 4kg, but to concentrate on modern comparisons would be missing the point. This bike is aimed at the urban rider, the winter rider, all-terrain pilot or trendy type who just fancies a bike that uses traditional materials and who isn't concerned with balls-out speed and performance.

The Reynolds steel frame is fabulously compliant and fairly stiff (who needs carbon-fibre, hey?); most roads, and even gravel tracks, are dispatched with little fuss, and a largely smooth ride.

Gear shifting from SRAM's Apex groupset is typical of the component manufacturer's range - positive clicking to let you know you've definitely engaged the gear, and the firm's simple 'Double-click' system, using just two brake-mounted levers to operate the front and rear derailleurs. The range of gearing available is very generous. Sporting the de rigeur compact chainset (50 teeth on the big ring, 34 on the little), the ST's cassette extends to a 32-tooth sprocket at its largest, meaning this bike will tackle even rough ground or some serious gradients with aplomb. You might need this smallest gear to haul its slightly portly mass up some hills, but it's also a helpful consideration for those who really just want a leisurely ride. This bike would be next to perfect on a family ride through parkland or steady city centre commute.

Finishing kit such as stem, saddle, seatpost, handlebars - even the wheels - comes courtesy of Eastway's own-brand kit. The ultra-compact drop handlebars are a surprise here. Fantastically comfortable, I'd run them on my race bike they're so ergonomically perfect. Taking this bike across fire roads and some typically British back-road tarmac in recent months has highlighted just how comfy it is, whether riding on the drops or the brake hoods, no matter what terrain you choose.

Tektro's cantilever brakes are powerful enough to slow you with some urgency, but you'll need to start feathering them well before the foot of any long or quick descents. The wheels, which have proved robust (and I've no reason to believe wouldn't continue to be bombproof over time) are pretty heavy, however. This compounds the overall feeling of a heavy-weight touring bike, and certainly makes it a little slow to get up to speed if and when the need does take you. Their Kenda tyres do work in tandem with the comfortable frame to provide decent ride quality. There's plenty of clearance to run this 32mm rubber, and they give very decent grip on even loose gravel and dirt tracks, once you've taken a few psi out of them. Talking of clearance, mudguards are a positive addition to any bike designed for year-round use, and these own-brand items are relatively rattle-free and cover a decent diameter of wheel. You will have to be mindful of your toes catching their trailing edge when executing tight, slow-speed turns, though - there was one notable moment when I almost had an embarrassing tumble from my size XS (52) bike outside the corner shop… There's also a mount for a rack, giving this bike true touring and commuting credentials.

If you're looking for performance - for winter training, say - the overall package is not as sloth-like as you might think. Obviously, the compliance of Reynolds 520 tubing is a bonus, but the steel forks also lend the bike a fairly planted and stiff feeling through corners. Harsh if you hit a bump, helpful on smooth tarmac. The short headtube and low-profile bars actually cant you forwards into more of a race tuck than you expect.

Sizing is fairly standard, with five frame variations available (although just in the black and white design we tested). The XS option, a 52 frame, offers a 515mm top tube, S (54; 540mm), M (56; 555mm), L (58; 575mm) and XL (60; 595mm).

Crucially, your budget will dictate whether you plump for this steely, or another. At one pound shy of a grand, it's fairly big money for a tourer. And a rival like the Genesis Equilibrium 00, which uses the same grade Reynolds steel, comes in £100 cheaper and is more than 2kg lighter, might tempt many potential Eastway customers away.

Its classic styling, user-friendliness, solid and proven components, extreme versatility and sub-£1000 price tag should definitely put it on the shortlist of steel-framed tourers for anyone looking for a commuter or tourer to ride all year round.

At a glance

Verdict Yes it’s heavy, but it’s also versatile, stylish, comfortable and robust. There are similar bikes available for less money, though.
Value
Performance

Do you own this bike?

by Iain Miller  on 9 Jul 2016
I've owned a Eastway ST1.0 for about 2.5 years and have loved every minute. Predominantly used for commuting, a out 90 miles per week at present, it offers a smooth, clean ride and enough range through the gears to get up the steepest hills.
Have done a 106 mile ride and a 120 mile ride in a day and both times had a comfortable experience.
Recommend this bike for any commuter who pushes their ride to work.

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