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It's fair to say that the Italian company Sarto occupies a place at the high end of the bike market – and the Sarto Raso is a stunning representation of that. It's truly striking to look at, and the very stiff frame delivers a sublime ride quality. The result is a fantastic road bike for those of us who want speed, low weight and aesthetics – and it's also a bike that's pretty much guaranteed to draw a crowd.
Our best road bikes buyer's guide rounds up our top choices from just £300 upwards.
Sarto describes the Raso as a bike created to unite race speed with endurance comfort – and considering how stiff the frame is, it does an excellent job even on the poor road surfaces that many of us in the UK are all too familiar with.
It's worth pointing out that when Sarto says endurance, it doesn't mean the Raso has relaxed geometry, but rather it's down to the quality of the carbon fibre lay-up and design that makes it a very comfortable choice for long-distance riding.
As with all of Sarto's frames, the Raso can be made to a custom geometry, but even our bike's stock frame focuses on a relatively aggressive ride position for aerodynamics and getting the power down. That's especially the case with the cockpit slammed, as it is here.
The position I could achieve on the Raso felt absolutely great. Nothing felt too stretched or extreme, but I could get a good drop from the saddle down to the handlebar, so that when I needed to, I could get low to drop my centre of gravity or aero to get out of the wind.
When descending, being able to get that low centre of gravity makes a big difference to how planted and sure-footed a bike can feel – and it certainly works here.
The Raso's handling is quick but well balanced. It feels comfortable when you push it into any corner at speed, even the off-camber ones on the descent I use for testing each review bike's behaviour.
Thanks to the lack of any front-end twitchiness, the Raso is an easy bike to ride very quickly, while the carbon frame and fork offer a smoothness that doesn't feel jittery over rough road surfaces.
It can also take tyres up to 35mm wide, which is something I really wasn't expecting. This can soften the ride a little and provides a little more confidence, thanks to the ever so slightly larger contact patch compared with the test bike's 28mm rubber.
In fact, for a bike that screams peloton-ready racer to in terms of aesthetics and geometry, the Raso is a very pleasant place to be and rewarding too.
The build we have here weighs 7.08kg, so the Sarto feels lively and responsive to your commands. Acceleration, whether from a standing start or when rolling, is brisk, and climbing is an absolute joy. The fact that the Raso is so stiff helps both of these aspects of your ride too.
When it comes to the quality of the ride, I can't fault the Raso at all. It's so comfortable that it's a great bike to ride over long distances, such as a sportive or gran fondo, or for tapping out a flighty century at the weekend – yet it is so responsive that it works just as well as a fast race machine.
You may have seen the price of the Raso's frameset and drew a sharp intake of breath. It ain't cheap, but there is a reason for that.
Sarto makes every frame in-house right from the very first prototype to the finished product. This also means that any frame in its line-up can be made to a custom geometry.
The process starts with the creation of the tubes required from carbon fibre sheets – there's no off-the-shelf tubing here. It's then ready to be built into a frame using a tube-to-tube design, rather than the lugs that some other brands use for connecting their frame tubes.
Sarto says that every tube can be created to a precise length for a 100% custom frame, if that is what you require.
With the tubes joined together, Sarto's frame builders then wrap the joints with layers of carbon fibre to create structural rigidity and the various other characteristics required from the bike. On custom frames these pieces are all cut to suit each one individually.
You can choose from various bottom bracket options from press-fit through to threaded, and you can also choose between different cable routing options.
Our bike has Sarto's stock geometry, although the process is no less involved, and all bikes are finished with fully customisable graphics and a stunning paintjob.
The photos here really don't do the colour and depth of the finish justice.
As you'd expect for a bike of this style, it isn't adorned with loads of mounts, just a couple of water bottle cage positions and that's your lot – which, to be honest, is all you need.
The 12mm thru-axles and flat mount calliper points give a clean, minimalist look that is further increased by the full internal cable/wire/hose routing from the handlebar all the way until they exit the frame and fork just a few millimetres away from the components that require their input.
An integrated seatpost clamp finishes things off.
The Raso is available in seven stock sizes ranging from XXS to XXL. Those offer effective top tube lengths of 505mm to 590mm respectively.
Our medium has a top tube measuring 550mm, a 510mm seat tube and a 147mm head tube.
Stack and reach figures come in at 545mm and 393mm, while the head angle is 72.5° and the seat angle a steep 74°.
In terms of weight, Sarto says that an unpainted medium frame tips the scales at 890g, with the fork adding 360g.
If you want to purchase a Raso in the UK then Sarto have a network of seven dealers who sell them as framesets, which can then be kitted out to the customer's specific requirements.
The frameset, or 'frame kit' as Sarto calls it, costs £7,520, which includes the frame, fork, headset, seatpost and two bottle cages.
Sarto says our build, which includes Campagnolo's new Super Record Wireless groupset (full review coming very soon), Bora Ultra WTO wheels, Continental's GP5000 tyres and Selle Italia 3D-printed saddle comes in at around €16,700 if you were to buy it direct from Sarto, so around £14,300 depending on the exchange rate.
That build includes Sarto's own carbon fibre integrated cockpit, which is also available in seven sizes. It's very comfortable with a flat, wing-shaped top and a smooth curve to the shallow drops. One thing I do like is the slight flare, which increases the bar's width from the hoods to the drops.
Ever since I've been riding gravel bikes, which tend to come with flared bars, I've switched to using them on my road bikes too, as the wider stance gives better control when you're riding in the drops. Sarto's offering has 10.75° of flare, which is 25mm each end.
The price actually compares well to the Colnago C68 that I have been testing alongside the Raso. With a similar build, albeit with the wired version of Super Record EPS, but featuring the same Bora wheels, the C68 will cost you £14,999.95. So, five pence short of 15 grand...
The Pinarello Dogma F that Aaron reviewed recently also came with a wired version of Super Record Wireless, but with a pair of Campagnolo's Hyperon Ultra wheels rather than Boras. This is a little cheaper at a mere £12,400.
Owning a Raso is without doubt a serious investment but even with our test bike's off-the-shelf geometry, the quality of the ride is amazing, and this is matched by the high-quality build and stunning paintwork, which I feel make the price justifiable. The Raso is a beautiful bike to ride, superbly balancing performance with comfort.
Stunning ride quality and behaviour on the road from an exceptionally built hand-made frameset
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Sarto Raso Frameset
Size tested: 55cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
The frame kit includes the frame, fork, headset, seatpost and two bottle cages.
Our build uses Camapgnolo's Super Record Wireless groupset and Bora wheels, fitted with COntinental's GP5000 tyres. Sarto's own carbon seatpost and cockpit finish the spec along with a Selle Italia 3D saddle.
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?
Sarto says: "Created to unite race speed with endurance comfort, Raso is an aero road bike built to set records and smooth the roughest roads."
It definitely has the balance of speed and comfort.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
The entry price for a frame kit is £7,520.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
Stunning build quality and the paint finish is one of the best I've seen.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Sarto says that the Raso uses uni-directional carbon fibre for the outer lamination, with M46J/CN80/T800 for the inner lamination.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
As mentioned in the review, the geoemtry is on the racy side of things, but it's so aggressive that it makes it difficult to ride at normal speeds.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack and reach figures are fairly typical for this style of bike in this size.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Very comfortable. For a stiff bike Sarto has managed to give the frame and fork a smooth feel to its ride.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness too is excellent, with no flex anywhere that deals with power transfer.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is very good, thanks to the Raso's stiffness and low weight.
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? On the quick side of neutral.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The Raso has direct, quick handling, but just manages to keep things on the controllable side of twitchy.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The GP5000 tyres are supple and the 3D-printed saddle is comfortable.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Bora Ultra wheels are very stiff, which makes them ideal for all kinds of performance riding.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels are very light at a claimed 1,420g, which helps the Sarto feel very responsive.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
While far from cheap, of course, I think its price compares well with the handbuilt Colnago C68 that I'd consider one of its closest rivals.
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Raso is a stunning bike to ride for those of us who want a blend of performance and comfort, and while not exactly cheap, I'd say it's reasonably priced when you consider its handmade construction, the excellent attention to detail and its overall quality. All things considered I'd say the finished product is exceptional.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!