Planet X Pro SL Carbon review

bazbadger Posts: 553
edited February 2009 in Workshop
Thought I would post a mini review of the Planet X Pro SL Carbon to help anyone else out there in the market for a new bike. Have tried to give info on stuff I would have found helpful myself. Hope it helps!


I've been riding a road bike for the last 5 years, my riding has consisted of commuting and sportives. Most of my road bike career has been spent on a Specialized Allez 16sp Sora / Tiagra equipped bike. The Allez was a great bike to introduce me to road cycling, but late last year (2008) I started craving something lighter and more full on.

I must have spent about three months researching the best bike for around £1000 and shortlisted a CAAD 9, Kiron Scandium, Ribble Nero Corsa and Planet X. The CAAD 9 was very tempting, but I had concerns about how ideal it would be for long sportive rides of 80-100 miles. With the Kiron I was about to get the credit card out when Wiggle announced the bike had been discontinued in the size I needed. I was really tempted by the Ribble as I could go to the shop and get fitted, but I was not sure about the customer service after having visited the shop a few times - nothing major, just a lack of interest in me. So, looking again at the Planet X site I saw their crazy C18 sale was still on - which was too good to miss. I was glad I got in there as not too long after I had purchased the bike the C18 sale stopped.

Buying from Planet X
On the whole, dealing with Planet X has been good. Most emails were responded to within a couple of hours and in addition there is the Get Satisfaction website where questions, problems etc can be posted and one the of the Planet X team will reply. The impression I got from dealing with them is that they are a fairly small company that seems a little chaotic at times, but care passionately about what they do and this was apparent to me in my dealings with them.

The Bike
Arriving as you would expect in a box (what else!), the first thing I noticed about the bike was how light it felt when lifting it out. On close inspection I noticed that I had a "downgrade" on the front derailleur from Dura-Ace to Ultegra, but then I noticed the big upgrade on the bars from the standard Planet X superlight bars to Ritchey Carbon Matrix - so all was forgiven. The Carbon Matrix bars have alloy inserts so you can safely add clip on tri-bars if that's your cup of tea. Stem is Planet X's 3d alloy with a slight raise if you wish to flip it.




It has to be said that the frame looks much better in the flesh than on photos. It is a full on compact frame with wishbone seat stays (hourglass) and hourglass chainstays. The black carbon weave finish (cosmetic layer) looks good on the whole, though any imperfections in the finish will show due to the clear lacquer - though you have to look close. The frame is a 12k Moncoque and comes with Planet X semi aero forks which are all carbon and match the frame really well.


Going from Sora to Dura-Ace shifters was pretty cool. The DA shifters really do look the part and the shifts are smooth and precise - after tweaking the cable tension. I should also add that there is a trim facility on the left hand shifter for the front derailleur, so chain rub can be eliminated when chain is going from big chainring to big cog. This is worth noting as no-one seems to tell you this!


The brakes are FSA Gossamer and provide good stopping power, though the blocks are not cartridge type, so changing them is a little more involved.


The chain-set is also from FSA and goes well with the black of the bike. As seems the norm now, the bearings are the external type. Cassette is 105 and chain Ultegra.


The FSA K-lite carbon seat-post was a great upgrade as part of the C18 deal - though it scratches very easily when altering the height, so care should be taken. It is the set-back version - which suits me down to the ground as I am a taller rider (6'1").

The seat is ok - a titanium railed Planet X version. The Planet X decals do come off very easily though - and look a bit sad when some are missing.

It took me a few goes to get the setup of the headset right (FSA again - apart from the top cap which is Planet X)- and recommend watching the Planet X video on You Tube to show the proper steps. However, I did find that I needed to tighten the top cap bolt a little more than initially thought to ensure all play is removed. The key thing is not to over-tighten so that there is stiffness when moving the bars. A torque wrench would also help as I suspect the stem bolts could take a little more tightening, but I have erred on the side of caution as the steerer is carbon.

The wheels Planet X's Model B semi-aero with flat bladed spokes and are really lightweight - no complaints so far. Tyres are Shwable Stelvio's.

Overall the kit on the bike is very good - even though it is quite mix and match.


The Ride
Coming from an all aluminum bike to a full carbon one takes some getting used to. For starters, the bike is much lighter than my Allez. As comparisons go, the Allez was about 21lbs and the Planet X around 17lbs. One of the noticeable side effects of the weight is the bikes response to side winds. The ride is much smoother than the Allez (which wasn't uncomfortable) and absorbs bumps and general road buzz really well.

I would describe the handling as quick. I found this disconcerting at first (and still getting used to it), but as confidence grows it really livens things up. Accelerating produces a slight whippiness that translates into quick change of speed - that almost goes unnoticed in so far as it happens quickly and without fuss. I've not had brake rub from the wheels when climbing out of the saddle, so that's a good sign - and I'm currently 14 stone ish...

Going from a 53/39 chain-set on the Allez to a compact on the Planet X has been fine. I've read some views that the change from small ring to big ring is a bit of jump too far for some, but I don't think it's a problem. The difference going up hills is quite marked though! Just wish I had a compact for the Exmoor Beast.

My conclusion
So far, I am really pleased with the bike, how it looks and how it handles. I'm confident that it will be good on the long runs that I plan to do throughout the year. The frame is backed by a 2 year warranty plus a crash replacement on the frame, should the worst happen. I've also taken the precaution of insurance with ETA.

Anyone looking to spend around a grand on a bike should check out Planet X. I'm glad I did.
Mens agitat molem


  • Nice one. Great photos too.

  • I got a c18 build as well in december, and am very happy with it.
    I previously rode a giant ocr2 (alu, sora/tiagra triple) for 2 years so everything
    is much smoother and slicker, but i do notice cross-winds more.
    Going uphill i've improved by about +10rpm due to the bike,
    and on rides over 2 hours, i no longer get sore hands from road noise.

    Mine came with a dura-ace front mech, but had shimano 105 brakes,
    planet-x bars and seatpost and schwalbe lugano tyres.
    I had been expecting tektro brakes rather than shimano
    but this wasn't an issue for me. Everything else was as i expected.

    I had no problems setting up the headset, following the video.
    I used a torque wrench for everything.

    I had a good impression of planet-x, and would buy from them again.
    I think the bike is great value, but if you want all matching kit,
    and want to know the precise spec of every part, this might not be the
    bike or company for you.
  • NWLondoner
    NWLondoner Posts: 2,047
    Again i echo the comments of Baz.

    it is an amazing bike for just over £1000.

    Yes the specs are mix and match but to be honest it all works.

    Kevin, i disagree with you last comment. If you want to spec every part you can do that but you will of course pay extra and TBH i think it is better to upgrade overtime when the parts wear out.
  • how can you disagree with Kevin's comment?! He said IF you're a matching components freak, then planet x aren't for you. And he's right! Most people aren't though...
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    how can you disagree with Kevin's comment?! He said IF you're a matching components freak, then planet x aren't for you. And he's right! Most people aren't though...
    Planet-X also offer this bike as a custom build where you can spec every component, so you can have a complete groupset and select the finishing kit you want, costs more though. The £1k deals don't offer any choices. I was lucky to get a Dura Ace build for £1k in September, though it is just Dura Ace mechs and shifters, the rest is 105 cassette, FSA chainset, Tektro brakes, Planet-X finishing kit - all great though, and it doesn't bother me. In fact I liked the P-X bars and saddle so much, I bought more for my other bike.

    The only changes I made were to swap the cassette for a 12-27, upgrade the tyres, change the brake pads to koolstop, and the headset spacers to carbon (purely cosmetic :wink: ). Recouped the money for the cassette by selling it on.
  • majormantra
    majormantra Posts: 2,094
    Nice review, and nice photos too. Thanks for posting them. A bike like this is on my long term list of things-I'll-buy-when-I-have-rather-more-money.

  • i didn't mean to imply that you couldn't get a planet-x in a custom build
    with every component specced individually, but for a few people that probably is
    important, and the £1k deals don't allow it.

    The last full dura-ace build i saw was around £1600, and at that price there
    are other bikes i'd look at as well.

    Personally, i'll be getting some racier tyres in summer and then upgrade other bits
    when they wear out.
  • I love those Planet x's not really my kinda thing full carbon jobbies but i do like this one alot, however, steel is still real! :D
    Carbon fibre, it's all nonsense. Drink beer. Ride a steel bike. Don't be a ponce.
  • NWLondoner
    NWLondoner Posts: 2,047
    kevin69 wrote:
    i didn't mean to imply that you couldn't get a planet-x in a custom build
    with every component specced individually, but for a few people that probably is
    Important, and the £1k deals don't allow it.


    ahh ok that clarifies it a bit :D

    But for a £1000 you would have to be mad to moan. But i guess that is a roadies prerogative :twisted: