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There's no doubt that with the Sweep 4, Bergamont has hit the target when it comes to producing an exciting looking urban bike with road bike influences. And with Shimano Claris gears and Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, it has an equally enticing spec at this price point. It's just a shame that the allure ends there, with a ride that feels stiff but uncompromising and handling that is more secure than inspiring.
'So little Sweep,' said the young road bike's parents, 'what do you want to be when you grow up?'
'I know exactly what I'm going to be!' said the plucky youngster. 'I'm going to be a hybrid!'
'Er, OK,' said little Sweep's folks. 'Well... good luck with that.'
Whatever its appearances, from the saddle it's pretty clear where the Sweep's DNA lies. Close your eyes (metaphorically speaking – we don't recommend this literally), forget about how your hands are positioned on the handlebar, and the Sweep 4 can't really disguise the fact that it is heavily influenced by drop bar bikes. It feels stiff, stiff, stiff, especially at the rear, which shimmies and clatters more than a Texas rattlesnake and crashes over speed bumps like a schooner in a storm.
Speeding away from lights is enjoyable to a point, although I found the Sweep wasn't quite as responsive under acceleration as its looks and initial stiffness had suggested. It's not turgid by any means, but I expected slightly livelier power delivery. It also feels like quite a big bike. Steering is direct, though, aided by an aluminium fork that is happy to match the rear when it comes to bump insulation, or lack thereof, but at least repays that with assured handling.
It's certainly not all bad: the Sweep's inherent stiffness is great for effective high-speed cruising and once you're up to maximum velocity, the Bergamont really excels. Spinning to maintain momentum is almost effortless and high-speed control is fantastic. Balance and stability is perfect – even during a couple of hairy moments, the Sweep kept everything in check. In fact, the quicker you ride it, the better the Sweep feels.
Look at the Sweep 4's frame geometry and all those ride qualities are easily explicable. You won't find many true hybrids with as level a top tube as you have here. Then there is the little rear triangle – very contemporary among speed-orientated bikes, but again, not necessarily a required feature for urban warriors.
The smaller details are nice, though. There's well-resolved internal cabling for the derailleurs and rear brakes. You can fit proper mudguards without problem. Two bottle cage mounts are specified. And you can accessorise with a rear rack.
Fit was particularly good for me, with the reach being just about spot on. It absolutely encourages a head-down riding position, which is fine and suits the rest of the bike's character, with only elbows-out, extended climbs becoming a bit of a chore. Out-of-the-saddle climbing was actually quite enjoyable, though: it's easy to get the bike in a steady, swaying rhythm. It's certainly more enjoyable than out-of-the-saddle accelerating, which felt a little dull.
While the frame ticks many contemporary bike design boxes, arguably more important trends – such as 1x gearsets – are absent. Shimano's 8-speed Claris road bike gearset is certainly fine. It all works well, it looks very smart, and gear changes are positive and fairly swish. But the combination of a compact (50/34t) chainset with an 11-34t cassette is pure sportive or leisure road riding territory; it's not, in my opinion, the optimum option for urban riding.
Short climbs feel harder than they should be, and I'll be surprised if you hit the tallest available gear on a typical commute – you'd have to be doing something approaching 30mph. Yes, it all works beautifully once you're up to a cruise, but when do you ever get into a long settled cruise on a typical urban ride?
I think Bergamont would have been better to fit a triple chainset for all-round practicality. Or – far more likely in the case of the Sweep – go for a 1x setup, where the (very) slight handicap in outright gear choice is more than offset by ease of maintenance, simplicity, weight saving and, no small thing, on-trend aesthetics. The Boardman URB 8.8 which I tested back in the summer used a 1x11 setup and was all the more exciting for it.
Other components are good, though. The cockpit area of the bike is very well thought out and I really liked the Syncros bar and stem. As I've already mentioned, front-end control is very assured, especially at speed, and the relatively sturdy-feeling controls further inspire confidence.
The flat-edged Syncros Urban grips are quite fun, too, and more comfortable than I expected.
The same goes for the sporty Syncros FL2.5 saddle, which has its work cut out rather with this prodigiously stiff frame but felt decent nevertheless.
Helping overall control further is the Shimano MT200 hydraulic disc brakeset. Although these discs are very good, they're not endowed with quite as much modulation or 'feel' as Shimano's M365s (as featured on the Saracen Urban Cross 3. There's definitely enough power, but allied with the semi-slick Schwalbe Lugano tyres, it's easy to lock up, especially in damp conditions. Thankfully, the Sweep's superb inherent balance really helps in panicky moments.
To be fair, it's very hard for supplied tyres to be reviewed in autumn because conditions can be so variable, but the Luganos were a slight disappointment all round. With their relatively mammoth 32mm width I was expecting them to help take the sting out of the ride, but they seemed to do little to help that either. They'll be fine for dry rides on nice smooth surfaces, but as soon as rain and leaves start to fall, you'll be wanting something with at least a bit more bite.
There can be few complaints about value. At just £599, this is one of those bikes that on paper looks hard to beat. For all my criticisms, Bergamont has worked wonders to offer a bike that looks as good as this, with what is really a quietly impressive spec in terms of quality, if not always suitability. The total weight of just over 11kg is good, too, and certainly puts it ahead of many flat-bar rivals at this price.
But while it would impress spec sheet warriors, what does it actually provide for real world riders? At the heart of the Sweep 4's problems are conflicts in its overall philosophy. It doesn't have quite the instant excitement of a road bike, but neither does it have the practical performance of a good hybrid. 'Give it a break, it's just a flat-bar road bike,' you cry. Yes. But it's being marketed as an urban bike, and I can't see that the package is any more urban-friendly than most drop-bar road bikes.
I didn't dislike the Bergamont at all – far from it. It looks great, rides well at speed, and it has a refined spec at an excellent price. However, that Boardman URB 8.8 I mentioned earlier does everything the Sweep sets out to do, but does it all better for £100 more. If you can't find the extra cash to buy the Boardman, then the Sweep 4 is a lower priced and lower performance alternative. Just be prepared for – at times – a tough ride.
Well-priced and well-specced super-stiff flat-bar bike that shows its road bike influences a bit too readily
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Bergamont Sweep 4
Size tested: Large
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Frame: AL-6061 alloy ultra-lite tubing, internal cable routing, fender-mounting rivets
Fork: Alloy, tapered, quick release, fender mount
Headset: Aheadset, semi-integrated, tapered
Rear derailleur: Shimano Claris RD-R2000, long cage
Front derailleur: Shimano Claris FD-R2000
Shifters: Shimano Claris SL-R2000 8-speed RapidFire Plus
Brake levers: Shimano BL-MT200 hydraulic disc brake
Brakes: Shimano BR-MT200, hydraulic disc brake with 160/160mm rotors
Crankset: Shimano Claris FC-R2000 50/34T
Cassette: Shimano CS-HG31-8, 11-34T
Chain: KMC X8
Bottom bracket: Shimano Hollowtech II BSA
Handlebar: Syncros FL2.0alloy riserbar with 12 mm rise and 680mm width
Stem: Syncros RR2.5 alloy +/- 6°
Seatpost: Syncros RR2.5 alloy
Seat: Syncros FL2.5
Grips: Syncros Urban
Hubs: Shimano FH-RM35 Centerlock
Spokes: Stainless steel black
Rims: BGM Road 28h disc
Tyres: Schwalbe Lugano Kevlarguard 32-622
Tubes: Schwalbe SV17A Light
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Ostensibly aimed at the urban market, Bergamont says: "The Sweep is a rolling statement in any urban setting. Racing bike genes combined with urban features make the bike a dynamic and trustworthy companion in the urban jungle. The aluminium platform is impressive, with sporty and yet still comfortable geometry. The Sweep proclaims its origins from St. Pauli, with its consistent and non-conformist design."
My personal opinion is that those racing bike genes are too prevalent and the Sweep could do with a few more compromises to tackle the urban jungle effectively.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
The Sweep 4 sits at the bottom of the two-bike Sweep range. The Sweep 6 is the bigger brother, with various upgrades including Shimano Tiagra gears.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Nicely built with very little to criticise.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Both the frame and fork are made from aluminium.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
Very modern race-bike-inspired geometry, with an almost-level top tube and tiny rear triangle. The wheelbase is very slightly longer than an equivalent-size race bike, but otherwise the geometry is fairly similar to an endurance road bike.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Very good – fitted me perfectly.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Not particularly. It has a fairly harsh ride quality that reacts to any road imperfections.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The rear felt stiff and unforgiving. Front was a little better.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Under acceleration or seated climbing, it felt a little dull. At speed, it was easy to efficiently maintain momentum. Overall, though, I didn't find transfer power as efficient as I had hoped, given its stiffness.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Handling was pretty good and improved with speed. Stability and balance was particularly good.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The frame is the biggest problem! The saddle is actually OK.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The frame again. No changes I could recommend.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The frame. No changes I could recommend.
Good once at speed.
Not as sprightly as I had hoped.
Sprinting was a bit of a chore.
Really good – one of the best high-speed bikes I've ridden for a while.
An excellent cruiser.
Very nicely balanced.
Quite good for out of the saddle climbs. Not as satisfying for seated climbing.
Performed very well without any issues.
Should be okay.
Very good at the price, but not super-lightweight.
Claris is not one of Shimano's more prestigious products, but it works well.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
I felt the inclusion of a compact double chainset was a bit misplaced. I would have preferred to see a triple for outright practicality, or a 1x chainset for more simple functionality.
Wheels and tyres
Not bad at all.
Should be fine.
A little heavy.
They didn't perform badly, but they couldn't do much to hide the frame's stiffness.
Smart and decent.
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
I suspect more sports or road bike-orientated wheels would help bring the Sweep to life a bit more, and would certainly suit its character. But they wouldn't make it any more suited to urban riding.
Good in the dry, not so good in slightly damp conditions.
They have Kevlarguard puncture protection, so should hold up reasonably well.
Despite a fairly large volume, they weren't as comfortable as I'd hoped.
Fair value, nothing more.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
I would definitely change tyres for something with more grip.
I was quite impressed by the controls.
Nice and sturdy.
Good enough in this market.
The square-shaped grips were surprisingly good.
Decent quality at this price.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes were plenty powerful and quite impressive.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Hmmm. Not hugely.
Would you consider buying the bike? No
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? No
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Sweep 4 is £100 cheaper than the Boardman URB 8.8 and represents very good value on paper.
Use this box to explain your overall score
There's no doubting the value of the Bergamont Sweep 4 – it's an excellent package on paper. It looks great, too. It's just a shame that in the saddle it doesn't seem quite so special, with an overall emphasis that seems a bit too focused on high-speed efficiency, rather than urban life.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking, leisure