Planet-X’s CT45 clinchers mix the latest swollen profile carbon hull with an alloy outer rim for confident braking and composed all weather handling.

Planet X Nanolight

Planet X Nanolight, £1999

planetx.co.uk

Overview

Planet X have been offering “no-nonsense” direct delivery bike deals from South Yorkshire for over 20 years. Their second generation Nanolight frame adds aerodynamic features to proven handling to create a very affordable, high velocity race bike.

With a short head tube to allow a low bar position, a deep teardrop down tube and aero seat tube complete with semi circular cut out to hide the rear wheel from the wind, the mainframe is clearly designed to minimise drag. Bladed rear stays are set low to keep airflow behind the bike clean, and the seat post is aero profiled too. All cables are internally routed and the Nanolight is also ready to take Shimano’s electric Di2 shifting if you tick that box on the online bike builder. Our test bike was built up with SRAM’s lightweight 22 speed Force stop and go gear complete with carbon fibre crank arms. Planet-X itself supplies the 420mm wide bar and 100mm stem which synced well with the handling but you can change sizes to your personal preference when you buy. Impressively Planet-X’s own semi carbon CT45 wheels are included in the penny below two grand price, complete with high quality, large volume Vittoria tyres.

How it rides

The tyres are a definite bonus on longer rides too, noticeably softening the naturally stiff and occasionally rattle prone ride character. That occasionally rowdy stiffness is repaid with impressive power transfer though. This means that while the own brand Planet-X wheels are fractionally heavier than the rolling stock of the other bikes here it has no problem getting up to speed. The aero wheels and smooth rolling tyres hold onto that speed well too and the state of the art, swollen belly ‘toroidal’ rim design smoothes overall airflow across a wide range of angles. As a result, there are no issues with tipping them in and out of corners or keeping them under control in gusty condition either. Planet-X has been working with – and employing – some of the best road riders in Britain for decades so it’s no surprise that the handling of the new Nanolight is spot on. The occasional clatter or buzz through the bars is repaid with a really accurate steering feel that lets you push the plump Italian tyres to the traction limit without risking an unexpected slip and slam disaster. Braking isn’t quite as powerful from the SRAM Force 22 brakes as the Shimano Ultegra brakes on the other bikes tested but it’s not enough of a difference to undermine confidence and the alloy rimmed wheels definitely stop more predictably – particularly in wet weather – than full carbon wheels. This all builds into a bike that’s never afraid to take the front of a group and push the pace or take a twisty road by the scruff of its neck and if you’ve got a bullish, no nonsense attitude to riding then the Nanolight is a potentially great fit. Riders after a more subtle performance might find the overall ride a bit raw, particularly over longer distances.

Verdict

The Nanolight is an impressive value, enjoyable and efficient racer with particularly well balanced handling. Ultimately it’s not quite as polished as the other bikes here though.

Score: 7