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by Matt Wikstrom
February 4, 2014
In this article CTech Editor Matt Wikstrom rides and reviews the Storck Aernario.
Markus Storck began working in the bike industry in the ‘70s. His parents owned a small shop in Frankfurt and it gave him the opportunity to explore the industry. By 1986, he was bringing US brands such as Trek and Cannondale into Germany for the first time. He established his own company called Bike-Tech a couple of years later as he consolidated his importation business.
Bike-Tech also served as a platform for Storck to formally move into design and production. Early Bike-Tech products (brakes and cranks) were designed for the MTB market and by the early ’90s, the company was offering its first downhill bike and Power-Arms carbon cranks. During this time Markus also co-founded Eurobike and the Association of German Bicycle Importers.
Bike-Tech embraced carbon fibre as it endeavoured to develop strong, lightweight parts. The company was one of the first to produce a carbon road fork, unveiling the Stiletto in 1995. The company also launched the Storck brand at Eurobike in 1995, and by 1998, Storck was offering complete bikes.
Storck’s first carbon road framesets, the Scenario C 0.9 and C 1.1, were released in 2003 and since then the company has been refining and expanding both its road and MTB range. Along the way, Storck has amassed a multitude of design awards, opened a new headquarters, and established concept stores in Germany, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and the UK.
Storck’s current road catalogue comprises eight platforms: two entry level bikes (Visioner and Visioner C), one high-end aluminium bike (Scenario Pro), two mid-level carbon bikes (Scenero G2 and Scentron), three high-end carbon bikes (Fenomalist, Fascenario, and Aernario), and a TT/tri rig (Aero2).
The company overhauled its road range in 2012 such that all but the Scenario Pro now feature a PressFit 86 bottom bracket and internal cable routing for both mechanical and electronic groupsets. At the same time the Aernario was unveiled and the new frame now serves as the flagship for Storck’s road catalogue.
The Aernario is built as a monocoque and the diameter of the maintubes and seat stays are varied to match each frame size in what Storck labels “proportional tubing”. Another process, “sectional aerodynamic shaping”, was used to refine the frame’s aerodynamic performance resulting in vertical teardrop profiles and a hidden seatpost clamp.
Uni-directional carbon fibre (labelled CFR/UD by Storck) is used throughout the frame, including the PF86 bottom bracket and rear-entry dropouts. Cable stops are moulded into the frame for internal routing of all cables and the seat tube accepts a standard 31.6mm post.
The Aenario utilises a tapered headtube with a standard 1.125-inch upper bearing and 1.25-inch lower bearing in the headset, which is mated with Storck’s Stiletto 300 carbon fork.
The Aernario is a lightweight frameset — the frame starts at a claimed 890g, while the fork weighs 300g — but there is a Platinum Edition that is both stiffer and lighter but availability is limited.
Storck is coy about where their frames are manufactured, preferring to emphasise that all of the design, engineering, testing and quality control takes place in Germany. Close reading of the material on their website reveals that carbon manufacture occurs in both Asia and Germany.
The geometry of the Aernario is race-oriented with relatively short head tubes at every size. There are six frame sizes from which to choose and all of them feature a sloping top tube. See the full geometry table here.
A size 55 frameset was provided for review by the local distributor as a custom showcase build with a Campagnolo Super Record EPS groupset and Lightweight Mielenstein Obermayer wheels. It’s a striking build designed to catch the eye of boutique shoppers. The seat-tube cluster and the hidden seatpost clamp are beautiful and the frameset benefits from very clean lines.
Two things stood out immediately as I started handling the bike: first, the rear-facing dropouts demand the chain be handled when removing or installing the rear wheel, and second, the matte white finish gets grubby very quickly. Moreover, the matte surface resists a quick wipe and I had to resort to a degreaser to restore the crisp white finish.
At present, the Aenario is offered in Australia as a frameset (frame, forks, seatpost, stem and bars) for $6,426 or as a complete bike with a mechanical Super Record groupset and Mavic Cosmic Carbone SLE wheels for $13,816. Buyers have a choice of two finishes: matte white/matte black (as tested) or matte black/gloss black.
The Aernario works beautifully but don’t be fooled by its asking price or boutique appeal: this bike is a pure racing thoroughbred.
From the very first pedal stroke, the Aernario was exceptionally responsive, thanks no doubt to a synergistic combination of the bike’s low weight and its impressive stiffness (and perhaps its sectional aerodynamic shaping too). The smallest effort makes the bike move and from there it seems to defy the laws of physics, just like a puck on an air hockey table.
The frame’s stiffness was abrupt at times, however I never found it harsh or uncomfortable. I didn’t experience any road buzz through the handlebars or the saddle, even when tackling some very uneven terrain. However, this is not a bike that will suit an unpadded carbon saddle, thinly wrapped bars, or narrow tyres.
The Aernario’s steering and handling was near perfect. The steering in particular was incredibly precise — just pick a line and the bike follows it. I never had any trouble holding a fast line through corners when descending, and I always seemed to exit with a lot more speed than I was used to on my regular bike. The steering is close to quick so less experienced riders may find the bike a little nervous at high speeds.
The Lightweight Mielenstein Obermeyer wheelset complimented the Aernario — light, stiff and efficient — but what happens to an already-responsive bike when you fit wheels that add to its responsiveness? It’s like hitting the fast forward button on a remote — everything happens much quicker — and the Aernario transforms from a racing saloon to a Formula 1. Perfect for race day, but on any other day, it’s like trying to walk an eager dog.
There were other drawbacks to the wheels: firstly, crosswinds troubled the high-profile rims; and secondly, they were fitted with 22mm tubular tyres, an aggressive racing width ill-suited for regular riding. I spent most of the review period riding on my own alloy clinchers (Stan’s Alpha 340 rims, DT 240s hubs, and 25mm Bontrager tubeless R2 tyres), a little heavier and less performance-oriented, but they did little to hamper the responsiveness of the bike.
The low weight and responsiveness of the Aernario chassis were intoxicating and addictive, and indeed, worked in my favour when heading into the hills for longer rides. My riding buddies called it form, but I’m convinced it was the bike. I doubt I could demonstrate that it provided any more than a marginal gain, but there’s no denying my sensations: this bike was a lot easier to ride than my regular, heavier and less responsive bike.
Campagnolo’s EPS worked perfectly throughout the test period, even when I headed off-road for some very uneven and sandy paths. As a long-time Campy user, I was immediately comfortable with the arrangement of the shift buttons on the levers. I also appreciated the firm, positive action of each button; there was no mistaking or missing a shift, all that was lacking was the usual effort of shifting thanks to the system’s powerful motors.
There were times though when I was frustrated with the pace of rear shifter; I still prefer the efficiency of the mechanical system when it comes to quickly dumping a few cogs for a sudden change in terrain or pace.
The rest of the bike performed well over the course of the test period. Potential buyers are likely to already have their own preferences and/or requirements for the handlebars, stem and seatpost so that frameset package may not hold much appeal.
For example, I swapped out the seatpost for something with a lot more setback to suit my riding position. Similarly, after a few years on handlebars with flattened tops, I never really savoured the all-round Storck bars.
My experience with the Aernario will serve as a new benchmark, not just for the bikes I review but also for my cycling. This bike is now the definition of responsiveness for me, and while I have no need for it on a daily basis, I’ll never forget the extra power, ability and confidence it afforded.
The Aernario has a very select appeal but it has little to do with its asking price. This is not a bike for well-heeled middle-aged men — look elsewhere for a trophy bike, because the Aernario demands an experienced rider that prefers an aggressive race position. It is a pure racing machine and buyers can count on it delivering an exceptional performance.