The original Exocet was a true master of the tri bike world. Can the Exocet 2 meet the standards set by its elder brother? Nik Cook finds out
Rotherham-based Planet X is renowned for delivering unbelievable value for money, and a good number of their bikes and wheels are seen at any UK race. The original Exocet scored a staggering 91% when we tested it, but they’re confident that this new incarnation is even better.
With its matt black frame, black decals and highly profiled tubing, the Exocet has the aggressive styling of a stealth bomber. It comes from the same moulding as the original Exocet frame but with a few minor niggles ironed out.
The cable routing has been improved, the seat clamp made more effective and aerodynamic, and, for better long-course comfort, there’s clearance for 23mm tyres. The carbon fork has slimmed down, too, and its impact on handling will be interesting.
The wheels are Planet X’s own deep-section carbon tubulars with an 82mm on the front and a 101mm on the rear. They’re a race-proven, popular and aero wheelset, but arguably at 1,921g a little weighty for hilly bike courses.
For the groupset, Planet X wheels out the big guns with Dura Ace mechs, shifters and brakes, and an Ultegra cassette. Interestingly, their own CNC brakes would shave £100 off your bill and some weight off the bike. But, by their own admission, if you ride sporting courses, the stopping power of Dura Ace is a bonus.
The levers are Tektro carbon and the chainset is the excellent and lightweight FSA SLK Light with its eye-catching carbon cranks. The cockpit is their dependable, great-looking but slightly heavy Stealth set-up, and the saddle the super comfortable Prologo Nago Evo. An 8.44kg weight isn’t the lightest, but there’s no arguing with the all-round quality.
If you’ve ridden the original Exocet, you’d know that even maintaining the status quo in performance terms would still make this a hard bike to beat. The positioning feels fast and aggressive but not at all uncomfortable. There’s a slight sense of harshness to the ride but this is a race bike, not an all-day trundler.
The straight-line speed on the flat is staggering with the wheels thumping through the air
It rewards injections of power on rises with a responsive kick and, once on top of a big gear, it holds onto rolling speed tenaciously. But you do occasionally get the skip in a crosswind and some 50 or 60mm rims would probably give a more versatile ride – and shave some rolling weight.
The handling through bends and descending is fantastic, and the new front fork has certainly raised the already-high bar. Through high-speed turns it tracks flawlessly and is responsive both to being pushed hard and to subtle corrections in line.
There’s a more nimble feel to this latest Exocet and it shouldn’t simply be classed as a straight-line speed machine. It might lack out-and-out climbing fizz but
this is a TT bike. Anyway, after swapping in some lighter wheels, it put in a more than passable uphill display. Everything that was so great about the old Exocet has just been dialled up a couple of notches and, if its predecessor begged you to go faster, the second incarnation is nowhere near so polite. It demands it.