A truly versatile, well-equipped bargain bike for those who are not inclined to show off. The CTM Stark 1.0 is the proof that this “creature” exists. And what about the looks? Most brands these days rely on the restrained German design, so this bike is truly low-key, but in an elegant, thoughtful way, appealing for the majority of cyclists.
It is a difficult task to create a “milestone” in the Cross bike segment, and often it’s even more difficult to cater for the taste of the prospective buyer. The Cross category is a sort of a weekend touring bike or a sporty commuter for those who want something more than the run-of-mill city or trekking bicycle. It’s welcome if the design is not too flashy, colourful or vivid, as seen on most modern road and MTB performance bikes. Walking on this tightrope, the Slovakian designers seem to achieved the ideal balance, the otherwise showy design is subdued with matte grey. Thereby the Stark is not overly noticeable, it’s won’t be the first bike to be spotted in the urban jungle locked to a lamppost in the street. Hopefully this will render it it less likely to be nicked by an opportunist lock picker.
However, the solid, subdued appearance is not lacking in well-drawn lines. The hydroformed aluminium alloy frame tubes are in perfect harmony with the design in the front triangle, enhanced also by the hidden internal cable routing. The hydraulic disc brake hose has not been hidden in the frame, so later – in case of servicing – this will not result in additional work time for the mechanic.
Since we are talking about a Cross bike, further development of the bike becomes an important question. The Stark is clearly suitable for overnight excursions, as it comes ready for luggage rack and possibly mudguards installation for a multi-day summer tour. Virtully no eyelets or attachment points missing on this versatile frame and fork. In addition, the disc brake cylinder is practically hidden in the rear triangle, so it will not interfere with the rear rack or the frame bags. This is one of the great advantages of Cross bike category: it can be “dressed up” as a full trekking bike for an epic expedition, and when the rider returns from the great journey, it can easily be converted back to a light commuter type bike by the next day. The only shortcoming of the Stark may be the kickstand: though it can be installed on the rear chain stay of the frame, once we install the rack and the bags on it, unfortunately it can’t perform its function. It would have been welcome to find an integrated console for this accessory.
Virtually no Eastern European manufacturer chooses to skimp on a suspension fork. While in Germany and Holland no one should have any problems negotiating the bike lanes with a rigid front fork, unfortunately the front suspension is a must-have accessory on this side of the continent – especially if the cyclists wishes to enjoy some level of comfort. The Suntour Nex is a proven fork model, and we can lock its movement from the steering wheel if we wish. (I personally think this is an unnecessary feature in the case of a touring/cross bicycle , but if you get something extra for your money, why complain?)
The 3×9-speed Shimano Altus/Alivio transmission system with Suntour XCM crankset results in reliable shifting performance, and worked flawlessly during the whole test period. This component category is a infallible choice. The same can be said of the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, which have a very user-friendly character, even those not used to strong disc brake systems can use them with confidence, without any possible mishaps. While strong on modulation, they still have plenty of power in reserve.
On a bicycle intended for touring, the most important components are those which are constantly in contact with the body. The quality of these parts determine how comfortable we feel on the bike, how much and how long we are willing to pedal it. CTM fortunately did not attempt to save money in this area either. The Stark is equipped with own-brand, otherwise very fine handlebar with comfortable grips, as well as a CTM logo saddle with a sporty shape, paired with a wider seating surface and medium thick padding.
They choice of the tires is a personal matter, the Stark’s favours those who ride predominantly in urban areas. The reflective strip is particularly useful, but most will welcome the flat protection technology underneath the tread. As a consequence of the “armoured” protection, and also due to the high-volume design, the rubber on this bike is rather heavy and tends to roll a bit slow.
Stark is a “bona fide” touring bike. The rider’s position is more tuned for comfort than athletism, ones sits quite upright on it, and does not have to lean much forward. Thanks to large volume tires, the ride comfort is also above average, the handlebar and the saddle are also on the “cushy” side. The fork performs its duty in filtering out the unwanted vibration from the road surface. To complement this rather cosy setup is a smooth functioning shifting system and powerful, but easy to use hydraulic brakes. It is a well-balance bike, so it’s somewhat difficult to emphasise any strong or weak points. Everything is in place and everything works well, day after day. The CTM Stark 1.0 is the “Backroom Boy” of bicycles!
Frame: AL6061 Aluminum
Available sizes: 17 “, 19″, 21 ”
Fork: Suntour NEX, RL DS 63mm
Number of gears: 27 speed
Gear shifters: Shimano Altus SLM370 / 9sp.
Rear derailleur: Shimano Alivio RDM4000SGS
Front derailleur: Shimano Altus FDM370L6
Cassette: Shimano HG 200/9, 11-32
Crankset: Suntour XCM T428 48-36-26T, 175mm
Bottom bracket: Suntour XCT 118mm
Braking system: hydraulic Shimano M315
Brake discs: SMRT10S centerlock
Wheels: CTM ZX-lite, 622 × 19 BA, 32H
Hubs: CTM Aluminum Centerlock 32H
Tires: 700x40C reflex line
chain: KMC X9
Stem: CTM AS-M01 90ex plus design
Handlebar: CTM rise bar, 700 / 31.8 mm
Headset: Neco is semi-integrated
Seat tube: CTM, 350 / 31.6 mm
Complete bike weight: 14.5 kg
Recommended retail price: 219 990 HUF