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Scapin_Anouk_threequart

Bike Test: Scapin Anouk

January 27, 2015
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Italian pro racer Umberto Scapin founded his namesake company in 1957 and, in 2005, Scapin was acquired by Olympia, one of the biggest bike brands in Europe. Since then, Scapin has utilized its parent company’s resources to help expand its line of high-end carbon race bikes. And now, Scapin is targeting a new demographic made up of customers looking for a carbon bike from a storied Italian brand, but who are looking to spend less than the $4000-plus asking prices for many of Scapin’s frames. Meet the Anouk.

Relatively thin chain stays help give the Anouk some extra vibration damping over thicker chain stays.

Relatively thin chain stays help give the Anouk some extra vibration damping.

THE FRAME
While most of Scapin’s higher-end frames are manufactured in the company’s Italian factory using tube-to-tube construction, the Anouk is produced in Asia and features a monocoque construction in a blend of unidirectional Toray T700 and T800 carbon fibers. The finishing process and paintwork is completed in Italy, however. The front end sports a 1 1/8- to 1 ½-inch tapered head tube and a relatively robust, straight carbon fork. A PressFit 85.6mm bottom bracket shell includes a machined aluminum sleeve to provide some extra durability and help the bottom bracket removal and installation process during routine maintenance. At the back, the Anouk features some very thin seat stays with little curvature, and they flow into an extremely flattened top tube section that bulks back up near the head tube. Supplementing those thin seat stays in an effort to bring some vibration damping is a 27.2mm seatpost. In addition to the mostly black motif shown on our test bike, the Anouk is also available in one other color scheme that includes some red and white paint.

A tapered headtube and internal cable routing give the Anouk some front-end stiffness and clean aesthetics.

A tapered headtube and internal cable routing give the Anouk some front-end stiffness and clean aesthetics.

THE PARTS
Our test bike was a special build put together by Scapin’s North American distributor, Stage Race, a service they offer to all of their customers. It included a complete SRAM Force 22 gruppo with a handlebar, stem and seatpost trio from 3T. Topping the seatpost is a Prologo Zero II CPC saddle. Stage Race also distributes the Austrian brand of wheels, Xentis, and included a set of Xentis Squad 2.5 (25mm deep) carbon clincher wheels on our build. Rubber comes from Challenge in the form of the Italian tire brand’s Criterium open tubular model, size 23c. The Anouk frameset can be had for $2199. And for anyone who’d prefer one of Scapin’s many stock builds, you’re in luck, as there are no less than 12 complete standard builds available. These range from a Campagnolo Veloce/FSA hybrid drivetrain for $2849 to a full Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 build for $8699.

A Prologo saddle tops a 3T seatpost on our test bike.

A Prologo saddle tops a 3T seatpost on our test bike.

THE RIDE
An ideal combination of stiffness and smoothness is something that frame manufacturers are constantly chasing, and Scapin is no different. And while the brand’s engineers will say that the Anouk boasts an equal balance of each throughout the frame, in fact, it’s a really more of a study in contrasts. The front-end is very stiff, thanks to the tapered head tube and its wide lower bearing, along with an overbuilt fork. This translates to terrific handling—the Anouk was a blast to take down long, fast descents, providing a very predictable feel that was a touch on the twitchy side, perfect for a racing bike. The rear-end puts more of an emphasis on deflecting vibrations in the name of comfort, and the thin seat stays, narrow seatpost and flattened top tube all work together well in this regard. Taking the Anouk on some rough roads produced a few jarring sensations coming up into the handlebars, but the rear end was buttery smooth by comparison. Generally, we’d prefer a bit of extra stiffness in the rear end to help put the power down, but the Anouk gets along in a fast group ride just fine regardless. Regular readers of RBA know that we’re not huge fans of all-black bikes and prefer to see a bit more personality in the form of unique paint. But the Anouk’s aesthetics are a terrific example of black done right thanks to its blend of glossy and matte surfaces, a minimalist selection of brand logos and just a few hits of bright red to set everything off.

The Anouk's fork blades are quite straight.

The Anouk’s fork blades are quite straight.

THE VERDICT
If you’ve ever wanted to own a bike from an Italian brand with a decades-long history but aren’t able to break the bank on a fully custom dream machine, then we recommend taking a look at the Anouk. No, it’s not manufactured in Italy and, no, $2199 is by no means a small fee for a frameset. But the Anouk is a joy to ride and makes Scapin’s unique style available to a wider audience. A bit of extra stiffness in the rear would be a boon if we were to race it, but the Anouk’s quick handling makes it a solid choice for a criterium or crowded group ride, and its compliant rear end make it a bit more comfortable than many other carbon race rigs we’ve tested in recent months.

The Scapin Anouk, built with a SRAM Force 22 drivetrain and Xentis carbon clincher wheels.

The Scapin Anouk, built with a SRAM Force 22 drivetrain and Xentis carbon clincher wheels.

PUNCH LINES
- Sharp looks and endless build potential
– Great handling and a smooth ride
– The most attainable Scapin yet

STATS
Price: $2199 (frameset)
Weight: 14.9 pounds
Sizes: XS (tested), S, M, L, XL
www.stage-race.com

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