The Porsche bike RS: Its most expensive part? The badge on the front

i drive

PORSCHE BIKE RS

Price: £4,999

Weight: 9kg

Frame: Carbon fibre

Groupset: Shimano XTR

Wheels: Crank Brothers 29in

Top speed: Greater than you'd think

The car is dead. Or dying. Or at least declining. We reached "peak car", as transport policy wonks call it, some time in the past decade, when fewer of us started driving shorter distances, less often. Bad news if your business runs on petrol and four wheels, which is perhaps one reason why car manufacturers, spluttering as they are towards a gloomy horizon, are reviving their links with the bicycle. Ding ding!

When cars rolled on to our roads more than 100 years ago, bike shops began stocking them. In some cases bicycle manufacturers such as Armand Peugeot thought there might be something in the combustion engine. By the late 1920s, Peugeot had cast off its bike arm and, while the name appeared on frames until recently, it was a rare reminder of the entwined histories of the bicycle and the car.

Now the bike is in the ascendant and, in a symbolic reversal, cars are being shifted across showrooms to make way. Last month a BMW dealer opened a bike shop inside a London branch. Several manufacturers that have put their names to bikes (even Hummer has dabbled) are now giving them greater prominence. They include Porsche, which this month offers two high-end hybrids. The RS, which I was given to test for a weekend, is striking. Most striking is its price. At £5,000 you might expect an engine and heated seats. It costs more than the sum of its parts, the incongruous Porsche badge up front being its most expensive component.

But the carbon-fibre frame will turn heads. The top tube sweeps in an arc from the headset but its grace is consumed by its girth, reaching tree-like proportions at its upper end. The forks complete the muscular look and offer enough clearance above the fat Schwalbe tyres to stick a fist through. It's beautifully built and finished, but won't please those who seek elegance in bikes.

But it's quick, responsive and unforgiving, and at times feels as if it needs to be reined in like the wild horse of the Porsche logo. But don't expect comfort from the racing saddle or rigid frame as it passes over even tiny bumps. Do expect fun. The RS offers total control and its weight helps it to fly uphill. But, while I enjoyed the spin, I also found it to be deeply flawed. This is a bike with an identity crisis, offering the racing credentials of a road bike (but none of the right bits), the bulk of a mountain bike (but with no suspension) and the semblance of a hybrid (without the comfort or practicality). It is a missed opportunity for Porsche, which might have complimented the RS's cheaper (still £3,000) sister, the S – a sporty hybrid in aluminium – with a pure road bike as pretty and as refined as its sports cars. Instead we have a fudge for rich people who don't know much about bikes. If the car-bike balance is tipping back towards two wheels, I fear the RS will do little to nudge the scales.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Pre-Press / Mac Operator / Artworker - Digital & Litho Print

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: With year on year growth and a reputation for ...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Manager - Live Virtual Training / Events

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Manager is required t...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Group has been well establishe...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Group has been well establishe...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003