RIDE has a long history of product reviews and there have been some ratings of test bikes in recent years. But what’s it mean and how is the judgement made? Jack Lynch has been responsible for allocating stars for the past two years and he explains how he comes up with the ratings he has…
How do we come up with the stars?
In the modern world of consumable media, making lists and formulating ratings is commonplace. Why not? It’s easier to look at a score to determine whether something is good or bad than read a long-winded article littered with qualifiers and opinions… right?
When it comes to our product reviews, RIDE has its own ratings system – the ‘Mechanic’s Rating’ – and this relates to the five bikes on test in each issue.
The Mechanic’s Rating is part of every ‘Build Report’ published in RIDE Cycling Review and is often the subject of debate or confusion.
With a new issue about to hit the newsstands, it’s time to clarify how each the star-ratings for Preparation, Finish and Quality are reached.
Like any ratings system, there is a lot of subjectivity, but there is method to the whole process – the score is not decided on a whim.
During the Build Report, the RIDE mechanic strips the test bike and weighs every part. Then the bike is carefully inspected and reassembled before it is put on the ‘flex jig’ to check the stiffness in the bottom bracket, head tube and seat tube.
A lot goes into a bike before RIDE‘s road test.
The Build Report is unique to RIDE that those interested in the technical details of the world’s latest or greatest bikes are urged to read.
This refers to how easily the bike goes together. Things like simplicity of cable routing earns a high score whereas a complex proprietary headset will pay a penalty.
This is about the frameset – its internal finish and paint scheme on the bike. Errant carbon-fibre flakes or filings or an inconsistent colour between the frame and forks are factors that could be detrimental to the ‘Finish’ rating.
This the mark that people question the most. This is great because it’s the most objective scoring system.
An electronic drivetrain (Shimano Dura-Ace, SRAM Red eTap, or Campagnolo EPS) with quality carbon wheels will almost instantly earn five stars. Four stars is the top end mechanical groupsets (add an extra half-star for nice wheels). Three stars is Ultegra, Chorus or Force. Two stars is earned for 105, Rival or Athena. One star is Tiagra and Apex. Half a star is reserved for Sora-equipped bikes. Zero stars? Well, the bike’s components are probably made out of Play-Doh.
Obviously there are components that can influence the rating but this basic guide should elucidate the meaning of the ‘Quality’ score following the Build Report.
Feel free to contact RIDE via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you may have regarding the build process of any bike tested in the magazine.
– By Jack Lynch