The Pretorius Outeniqua is a new titanium race bike with stylish looks and a sweet ride. It’s available as a frameset for £1,950 (with a full bike fit included) although ours came as a complete bike in a £5,999 build.
Here are six key reasons why you might want to buy it.
1 The frame is strong, lightweight titanium.
It’s 3Al-2.5V titanium, to be precise, which means it’s actually 3% aluminium and 2.5% vanadium. This is the alloy that’s used to make most (but not all) titanium bikes.
Titanium has high strength-to-weight and stiffness-to-weight ratios and an excellent fatigue life. If you’re looking for a bike that’ll still be going strong several years down the line, titanium is a very good choice. It won’t snap if you stack it and will cope fine with the inevitable knocks it’ll pick up during regular use. It won’t corrode when you forget to clean it either.
Don’t get us wrong: we’re not saying that everyone should be riding titanium. Carbon, when done right, can certainly be made into bikes with higher stiffness-to-weight than anything else right now. But titanium certainly has a place still.
2 It’s a well made, tidy frame.
The Pretorius is well put together with classic straight lines and neat welds throughout.
Although the Outeniqua has a fairly traditional air, it boasts some distinctly modern features. The head tube, for example has an internal diameter of 44mm from top to bottom, but it comes with a Chris King 1 1/8in InSet upper bearing and a 1 1/2in external headset cup down below and the fork has a correspondingly tapered steerer to improve rigidity.
The other feature that performance bike manufacturers have increasingly turned to over the past few years for adding stiffness is an oversized bottom bracket. Pretorius have gone with a BB30 design too.
The wall thickness in both the head tube and the bottom bracket is thicker than elsewhere too. It’s a meaty 2mm for extra stiffness rather than 0.9mm of the other tubes.
The tube shaping is subtle. The slightly sloping top tube, for example, tapers from 38mm at the head tube to 34mm at the seat tube and the seatstays slim down 3mm along their length. And while the head tube and the down tube (42mm in diameter) are oversized, they’re not that oversized.
The details are tidily done too. The dropouts are a smart half-moon design and the cable stops are welded into place rather than riveted. And while our test bike comes with mechanical shifting, the Outeniqua is also available in Shimano Di2 options if you want to go down the electronic route. With Dura-Ace Di2 the battery can now go inside the seat post.
The Outeniqua comes with a brushed finish as standard although custom paintjobs are available from £200. You can choose from eight different decal colour options and you can pick the Chris King headset colour to match if you like.
The overall result is a frame that looks stylish rather than one that’s trying too hard.
3 A proven geometry.
The Pretorius’ geometry is racy and efficient without being too extreme, although if it doesn’t work for you, you can get a custom version made.
Road bike geometry is rarely all that radical. People have been making road bikes for a long time now and we know what works. Our Outeniqua is a large (58cm) model which comes with a 58cm seat tube, a 57cm effective top tube, and a 17cm head tube – although you need to allow another couple of centimetres of stack height for the external headset cup.
Compared to a 58cm Specialized Tarmac SL4 full-on carbon race bike, for example, the Outeniqua has a 1.2cm shorter top tube while the head tube and seatstays are about the same. The frame angles (73.5° head angle and 73° seat angle) are the same too, so you know what you’re getting here: it’s a well-proven set up.
The standard Outeniqua frameset (see below) is £1,950 but if none of the seven sizes is right for you, an extra £200 gets you one built to a custom geometry.
4 Excellent frameset components.
Buy an Outeniqua frameset and you get an Enve 2.0 fork and Chris King Inset 7 headset as part of the package. Both are excellent.
The Enve 2.0 fork, which retails alone at £390, is full-carbon right down to the dropouts. It comes with a tapered 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in steerer and, despite weighing in at just 350g, it provides loads of stiffness whether you’re pinning it into a fast turn or throwing the bars about on an out-of-the-saddle climb. It also damps road vibration well without leaving you feeling too isolated from the road; a great combination.
The Chris King Inset sealed bearing headset is a winner too. With this one the upper cup sits inside the head tube while the lower one is external. The high-quality bearings should last an age.
5 You can choose you own spec.
Pretorius will build up the Outeniqua however you like. We had a high-end spec comprising a Campagnolo Super Record 11-speed groupset, Reynolds Thirty Two wheels with Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres, Enve carbon bars, stem and seatpost, and a Selle Italia SLR saddle. There’s an Arundel carbon bottle cage on there too. You’re looking at £5,999 for that lot.
In this build, the Outeniqua weighs 7.2kg (15.8lb). Spend six grand on a bike and you can get lighter without too much trouble – especially if you go for a carbon frame – but this is certainly a highly respectable weight.
I won’t talk too much about the specific build because it’s not set in stone, but you really can’t go wrong with these components. If you prefer Shimano or SRAM to Campag’s shifting, no problem, go with that instead.
The Reynolds Thirty Two wheels are very light and spin beautifully. We have the clincher version and they weigh in at 1,351g. Reynolds’ Cryo Blue pads provide good braking on the carbon rims in the dry, although the braking is nowhere near as good as you get with aluminium rims in wet conditions. That’s always the way.
Getting your saddle position right on the Enve carbon seat post is really easy and the sub-200g Enve bars come in either standard (144mm drop, 85mm reach) or compact (127mm, 79mm reach) versions.
But I wasn’t going to go on about the spec too much, was I? So I won’t. It’s good though.
6 The high ride quality.
The Pretorius offers a quick, agile ride. Put in the power and it responds with a sharp kick forwards. It doesn’t have the all-out rigidity of some top end carbon bikes when it comes to a sprint but it’s still impressively efficient and it whips up to speed in no time. Of course, that’s partly down to the components as well as the frame and forks. The Reynolds Thirty Two wheels in particular make a big difference here, accelerating beautifully when you ask them to.
The ride position is balanced. It’s certainly low and efficient, which is exactly what you want for a bike of this kind, but it’s not ridiculously aggressive. Most people with reasonable flexibility will be happy getting in the big miles on this setup.
You also get a good compromise between stability and reactive steering. The Outeniqua is manoeuvrable enough for last second line changes when a ride mate decides to swing out for no apparent reason, but it’s not so nervous that you can’t relax when you want to.
The ride-quality is the Outeniqua’s most valuable feature. There are no wrist-shuddering jolts coming up through the Enve fork and you don’t find yourself clinging on for dear life when you hit a patch of jagged road. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Outeniqua keeps everything nice ‘n’ smooth. As well as making life comfortable for you in the saddle, that means the wheels stay firmly in contact with the road even when the road gets rough under fully loaded tyres.
Again, the components help with the comfort; I always get on well with a Selle Italia SLR saddle, for instance. To me, it offers the best combination of lightweight and comfort of any saddle out there, although if you’re not such a fan you could go for something that suits you better.
All in all, the Outeniqua offers a sweet ride. Swift, responsive, comfortable, it’s a great performance option with a big helping of style thrown in.
Stylish titanium road bike with a high ride quality; comfortable and it should last you many years.