The Scott Contessa Speedster Gravel 25 is a gravel bike is really more of an all-round road bike than an adventurer. If you are looking for a reliable commuter with added comfort from the large diameter tyres and the ability to explore gravel tracks at the weekend then the Speedster Gravel will do just fine. If adventure is in your blood, there are better options out there.
The Speedster range is differentiated from the Addict gravel bikes by being the more affordable, alloy framed bikes. The Speedster, in both men’s and women’s versions, are on par spec and price wise with the Trek Checkpoint and the Specialized Diverge but they are still a tad off the mark when bikes such as the Sonder Camino where you can currently get hydraulic brakes with a 1x drivetrain for a penny under a grand.
Our Contessa Speedster Gravel 25 is the bottom of the range bike coming in at £1,099, a good price to target the Cycle Scheme or Ride to Work buyers in the UK. For that, you get a carbon fork, neat internal cable routing, a full Tiagra groupset with 50-34T chainrings paired with a 10 speed 11-34T cassette and 170mm cranks.
The brakes are cable actuated Shimano BR-RS305 and used here with 160mm rotors front and rear. To keep you rolling are 700c Syncros Race 24 Disc rims laced to Formula hubs which are shod with 35mm Schwalbe G-One Allround tyres. Most of the finishing kit is Syncros too, bars, stem, seat post and ladies saddle are all from the same stable.
The handlebars of our bike measure 400mm and it is specced with a 90mm stem, all fairly normal kit for a bike of this size. The frame with is 520mm seat tube is quite 'classic triangle road bike' frame in shape, for example with seat tube this long I'd struggle to get a dropper post in here and argument could be given to sizing down to accommodate this.
Geometry wise the Speedster bikes sport steeper seat angles, slightly steeper head angles, taller head tubes, a tad longer reach, and also very minutely higher bottom brackets when compared to the carbon Addict Gravel. These bikes get longer chainstays than the Speedster road bikes which Scott say is due to the "more gravel specific spec, with wider tires and the accordingly needed clearance. All the other values stay the same as the road version due to the fact that the bicycles use our ‘Endurance-Geometry’".
The women's version of the Speedster isn't any different to the men's or unisex Speedster Gravel 30. The geometry is identical with a 72-degree head angle on this Small bike, a 74.5-degree seat angle, a top tube of 530mm, a seat tube of 52mm and a head tube of 141mm. Our bike gets a 'pinker' paint job, but it's one I quite like, the coral is striking and looks good against the sage green frame alongside the colour matched bar tape.
The Speedster Gravel is a classic road bike shape and whilst this leaves lots of room for luggage and water bottles it’s not keeping with today’s fashionable trends to sport a low slung top tube and as I mentioned earlier the tall seat tube leaves little room for a dropper post if that’s your thing. Spinning along on the road, the Speedster is a pretty nice place to be, the top of the drop bars curve backwards slightly to bring the hoods closer to the hands which I liked. The bike is smooth on the road, has gearing better suited to on-road than off-road and there’s none of the noise and rattles that ensue when you do take it off-road.
The rattle off-road can be attributed to the Tiagra mech swinging about as soon as you hit the rough stuff. It allows the chain to slap and rattle about too making for a right cacophony of sound, more than is usually noticeable on a bike such as this.
The alloy frame doesn't offer the smoothest ride, the carbon fork goes some way to provide a bit more comfort at the front end, highlighting the stiffness at the rear. Even low pressures in the tyres don’t dispel the vibrations, its unforgiving and would ultimately be tiring over long distances. Scott officially says that 35mm (as fitted) is the widest tyre that the bike will accept and taking a look at the clearance it doesn’t look like there is much room for more, especially not if you choose to fit mudguards. It might be wise to go tubeless and run lower pressures which should help increase grip and dampen vibrations.
The Shimano BR-RS305 brakes specced here are a type where only one pad moves which require you to manually adjust the brakes as pads wear and inherently cause the rotor to bend a little when the brakes are applied. As for performance, they are on par with other similar budget brakes; they will stop you and the bike, but there is very little 'feel' down the lever. There are other bikes out there at a similar price which spec mechanical disc brakes where both pads are actuated and the Specialized Diverge E5 Sport is one of them.
The bike will fly smoothly along on tarmac and it’d be a good commuter as the kit specced is reliable, if not top spec for the price, plus its got plenty of room in the large triangle for bottles and luggage. There’s mudguard mounts and rear rack mounting options too, although if you are thinking of touring the press fit bottom bracket and internal cable routing might cause some problems along the line.
If you like the look of the Scott Contessa Speedster Gravel 25, have a Scott dealer nearby and you are looking for a road bike around the £1K mark that can also tackle some smooth gravel then this bike is worth a look. If you want to get further off the beaten track or do longer distances off road then there are other better value options out there that will offer more versatility, grip and comfort.
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