(Not interested in the ‘how the Dura Integra came to be’? Jump to the actual review)
Earlier this year, while at the LBS for some preparations on my Sensa Trentino, I was going through the latest brochure of Sensa Bikes.
However, I quickly found out that this meant I couldn’t (comfortably) ride any serious mountain stages, so I got the Trentino. And as it also didn’t quite fit the profile of a true TT bike, the pages in the brochure with Sensa’s TT and Tri bikes, caught my eye.
Sensa offers two bikes in that segment: the Dura Integra and the Dura Triathlon. While I figure(d) the triathlon bike will offer a slightly more comfortable geometry and position because of the length of the courses you will ride with that, I didn’t quite like the look of it.
Not that it would matter much, because surely there was no way in hell the boss would allow the purchase – or even trade in – of my just over a year old Giulia, right?
I have often mentioned that I’m not sure how I even deserve any of it, but also in this case she just nodded and told me that since it was my hobby, I should go for it.
Now, obviously, form an economic point of view, this is probably as unsound as it can be, but I figure that as long as our donations to good causes * don’t suffer from it, we’re good…
So, I decided to trade in my Giulia, because keeping it would serve little purpose, ordered ‘my’ Dura Integra and hoped it would arrive in time for the Knipscheer Tijdrit (TT) Almere by the end of March.
Unfortunately, there were no frames available at all and as the open mould frame is in high demand, it would take a while before they’d have one for me.
I tried to get Sensa to do a special paint job for me, to get rid of the white decals, but alas – as was the case with my Trentino, the paint job as featured in the brochure is the only available option.
Shortly after the TT, where I actually encountered a Dura Integra b.t.w., we went on a holiday during which I got the signal that my bike had arrived at the LBS.
I picked it up April 14th and went for a first ride. As I thought I was already – more or less – accustomed to the ‘TT position’, I didn’t expect much of a problem riding my new steed.
As you can see in the picture, the aero bars on the Dura Integra are quite a bit closer to each other and – less visible – there are quite a few lifters more on the Dura as well.
This takes some getting used to, but I suppose it’s worse if you have never been riding a bike with this type of cockpit.
And after some 20 – 30 kilometers, I also concluded I would need another bike fit, because I was tearing my hamstrings apart, since the saddle position was set according to the fit for the Giulia…
Luckily, I could be fitted a few days later and after that, and apart from moving the saddle (lower and backwards a bit), I have only had to the slightly adjust the upward angle of the bars.
Obviously, that is not the most comfortable position either, but I will only adjust it to the even less comfortable TT mode when actually doing a (sub 50K) time trial.
So, how does it behave on the road?
I am not much of a material geek, nor do I have any idea what tech terms like aerodynamic drag and yaw angle mean, but my experience is best captured in one word: wow!
Yes, I did have to get used to it, but now that I am – I’ve cycled over 2,000 kilometers with it, including a century or two (yes, 100 miles – there is no such thing as a metric century), I can only say that it has met my every expectation.
As it is equipped with 53/39 – 11/25, the (rear) sprockets are closely stacked, shifting is ‘snappy’ and the power transfer is impressive.
It’s extremely stable when going straight and where I at first would go from aero to holding the handle bars while cornering, I have since mastered going through roundabouts (near) full speed while staying in aero position.
Obviously, for ‘slow’ sharp corners I will shift my position, not in the least because I will need to brake, but that grip was already very familiar to me.
As far as braking is concerned, it doesn’t disappoint either. The front brake may look a bit ‘odd’ positioned where it is, but as I understand it, this actually increases the brake force.
The rear brake is out of sight near the bottom of the frame – I guess that position either also increases the brake force, or perhaps is just more aerodynamic that way…
I have no idea whether or not I would like the standard Supra RA Pro wheels that come with it, because I swapped those for the RFC 55’s from my Giulia.
The only downside of that, is that I now ride with blue brake pads, as my LBS could not get those needed for carbon rims in black anywhere (over 10 week estimated delivery time with Shimano).
You may notice that I have also swapped the brake handles from my 3T Vola cockpit, because besides the white decals, I really loathed the shiny aluminum handles that come standard with the Dura Integra, even if they do offer more grip.
One of the first pictures I posted (on Facebook and Sensa’s timeline) was captioned: ‘Happy like a little kid in a candy store’.
That feeling hasn’t gone, even if my stem needed to be replaced because of a production flaw (I think: ask them if you need to know).
That flaw caused my handle bars to tilt down gradually, no matter how tight (8 Nm max) I would fixate them.
As annoying as that was, it has been neatly fixed – as it should – and it didn’t really spoil the pleasure of riding the bike to be honest.
All of this comes at a price of course, but if you are willing to spend money on a TT bike and Sensa is available in your area, I’d highly recommend you consider the Dura Integra.
At a base price of – probably less than – 3,499 Euros, you get a fantastic bike.
The optional RFC 55 wheel set will set you back another 699 Euros, but I cannot honestly tell you if that’s worth it – I love them, but the RA Pro set may well be all you need.
* Or the ‘holidays’ to the sun, which she enjoys as much as I do riding my bike…