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So far it’s a solo ride.

Ride Review: The Sarto Raso

Chad Nordwall |

Getting straight to the point, this is the first modern (disc brakes, internal everything, electronic shifting, carbon) bike that I truly want to ride every ride. I've liked the other bikes I've been on but was always looking forward to returning to one of my other bikes.

I had no real issues with any of the other bikes in this category, but something was always missing that left me wanting, something holding it back from being my forever bike. They were either a little too noisy, or maybe a bit heavier than I liked, or climbed fine but were lacking on the descents. Whatever the reason, something always left me hoping for more.

My new Sarto Raso, the first customer-built example, hits everything I want in a modern carbon bike. It's quiet, the groupset is fantastic, it's as light as I need, the fit is perfect (after a bit of dialing in and a bar swap), the handling is so good, and I love the way it looks. And, as I said, I want to ride it.

We launched the new Sarto Raso back in November of '22. We had not ridden it yet, but having ridden four Sarto models before that, I felt good about our praise of the new model. However, we couldn't promise anything until we had some miles on it. I'd like to have more miles by now, but due mainly to my lack of motivation in riding in the pouring rain and otherwise shitty weather, I'll settle for the 520 miles I've accumulated up to today.

These have been well-rounded miles, though. Since I've gotten back on a real training plan, I have put a good mix of speed work, hill intervals, sprints and longer aerobic base miles on the bike. And, even though I have been less than keen to ride in the rain, I've still got a good number of wet miles on it.

We've also used the bike to test multiple items: chain lubes, a few different sets of wheels and tires, two power meters and the new Ceramicspeed pulleys for the new Dura-Ace group. For this initial ride review, though, I'll go from how the bike is set up right now as this build has a larger chunk of miles.

The Sarto Raso frameset comprises the frame, fork and seat post, which are all made in-house by Sarto. The bar/stem combo is from another Italian company that makes said parts for the likes of Willier and De Rosa, among others, though Sarto is the first to adopt this particular model. Everything looks top-notch, and the bar/stem looks and feels perfect. I usually don't love the look and feel of flared bars, but these are an exception. It's not too drastic, the flare doesn't affect the levers' position, and it allows me to run slightly narrower bar width when I'm riding on top of the hoods, complemented by extra width when riding in the drops.

The computer mount is low-key and blends in nicely, and they even make a mount for the few of us using the SRM PC8 head unit. The bars are measured at the top of the hoods, center to center. We were unaware of this, and when I originally had the frameset specced out, I asked for my standard 44cm bars, which for most Italian brands, are measured at the end of the drops, outside to outside. The first thing we noticed when unpacking the frame was how freaking wide they were! I felt this right away and, as of last week, received the 40cm bars, but more on that in a bit.

Everything on the frameset fits perfectly. The only change to the Sarto package we made was using a Ceramicspeed headset. We do this primarily for the durability aspect. Since all the cables are run internally, it is a lot harder to do routine headset maintenance, so we use bearings that basically don't need any. My frame has custom geometry and paint, which I think turned out great, as proven by the fact that I spend way too much time staring at the bike.

We built this bike with the latest Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 group. I didn't have my new SRM in yet, so we started with the Garmin Rally power meter pedals. The bottom bracket and pulley wheels are both by Ceramicspeed. It did take a couple of hundred miles or so to break in; the drivetrain was a bit noisy to begin with, which is uncharacteristic of the top-level Shimano components. We are not sure what the cause was. It could have been the Ceramicspeed pulleys, the lube we started with, or the fact that almost every ride was over wet roads, which meant the drivetrain was never clean for long. But as of late, everything has broken in nicely and it's as quiet as can be expected. I still need to install the Shimano app and don't even know if I will, as I can't usually be bothered with that stuff, but it's super easy to manually adjust the gears, which I've only had to do when swapping to different wheels.

I'm running a 52X36 chainring combination with an 11-30 cassette. I'll cover individual component performance later, as this article is already long. Still, I was surprised to see that when we swapped out the standard Dura-Ace crank and Garmin Rally pedals for the SRM PM9 power meter and stock Shimano Dura-Ace pedals, we took off over 180g. I was expecting the opposite!

My favorite part of the group is the brakes. I am a massive fan of the Shimano disc brake set. More than any other that I've used up to this point. And the best thing I did was take a friend's advice and run 140mm front and rear rotors. I started with the 160mm front rotor, and while it was OK, the bike just felt so much better with the smaller rotor. I'm 185 pounds right now, so not a small guy and the stopping power is plenty. It is even quieter, with my reasoning being that the smaller rotor stays true better than the larger one, especially when hot under hard braking. I also can brake harder without feeling like I am flexing the fork too much, which always throws off handling a bit for me and is one of the main reasons that I prefer descending on rim brakes more. Lastly, I prefer the ergonomics of the Shimano Dura-Ace levers much more than the SRAM Red levers I've been using on my other bikes. They are a good bit smaller, though larger than the last generation of Dura-Ace levers.

Most of my riding on the new Sarto has been on the Lightweight Meilenstein standard, or white label, wheels. We've talked about these a ton, but they are fabulous wheels and work with the bike perfectly. Incredibly stiff but not harsh, they feel amazing while climbing, descending, or just cruising around.

Of particular note is the fact that the Raso can handle up to 35mm (measured) tires. I would say that this also depends on the front derailleur. 35mm would be tight with the Dura-Ace derailleur but did fit in my bike. We used 32mm Vittoria NEXT tires with some 25mm rims and the measured width was almost 34mm. While the wider tires do feel nice and comfy I still prefer narrower tires. I'm running 30mm Vitttoria Corsa Control currently which feels a little faster, and, for myself at least, I prefer a stiffer tire carcass when descending.

So, how does it ride? I freaking love it. So good. The bike feels light. That is one of the first sensations I can describe. While not crazy light on the scale ( the bike comes out at 16.2 pounds as it sits currently, with power meter, pedals, cages and computer), it feels super light on the road. It's so easy to flick about, climbing and descending, and it's fun doing it. But it also feels rock solid under load when sprinting. While I'm nothing special in a sprint, I can still put out close to 1300W and really muscle the bike around. But whenever I wound up the wick, the bike felt super planted. Same with descending. The Raso holds the corner incredibly well, but due to the light feeling, it changes lines at the speed of thought. It also feels fast, like my last Pinarello Dogma F12, and holds that speed easier than on some of my other bikes. There is absolutely nothing that I don't like about this bike which is why I haven't wanted to ride anything else since building it.

Anyone who knows me well enough knows I like swapping bikes all the time, so it is not a small deal when I don't want to. I'm not saying that I'm not looking forward to riding something else again and getting a ton of joy out of it, just saying that this is a new experience for me. I'll be doing this soon enough, though, as I'll be handing the bike off to our friends at Cadex for a few days, who'll be displaying this bike in their booth at Sea Otter with their new climbing wheels, which I can't wait to ride. If you go to that show, try to visit their booth to check out my Raso.

Sarto has nailed it with this bike and should be proud of how it turned out. This is the other cool thing about the bike; it comes from a factory in Treviso, Italy, where everything is done in-house by a family that has been doing it for a long time. Getting a bike that works as this one does and getting a bike built by the same team, under the same roof, with all the options that come with a handbuilt work of art is also a differentiator.

I'll be giving more updates on this bike as the miles stack up and will also get into the weeds a bit more on the details of all the parts we'll be testing with it, so stay tuned for more soon. In the meantime, if you've been looking for that new, do-everything, modern high-performance bike with a bit more personality than most big factory-built bikes can offer, give us a call or come in to check it out and talk in person.

As always, thank you so much for taking the time to read this. We appreciate it!

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