While some aero bikes’ tube shapes become more and more dramatic, Blue’s Axino has kept the simple truncated Kamtail design they introduced for 2014. Those tube shapes carry across the head, down and seat tubes to improve air flow while keeping it looking like a regular road bike. They also seem to save weight, and do a good job of keeping the Axino comfortable yet stiff. In other words, they deliver just what we want from a modern road bike…
We tested the size Large, which is the biggest they offer and has a 58cm top tube. That means if you’re much taller than my 6’2″ body, you’re probably sizing out of Blue’s road range. As it is, the bike came with a longer stem than I would normally use, but the fit was good and it left just about the right amount of seatpost extension for optimal aesthetics IMO. Weight for the EX build (Ultegra mech, Rotor 3D30 cranks, Fizik saddle and housebrand everything else) was 16.93lb (7.68kg). Other than the seatpost, the cockpit and rims are all aluminum, and it uses a 105 level cassette, which makes the weight good for the category and easy to improve upon.
In addition to the Kamtail shaping, a generally narrow frontal profile and wide set fork legs help out with aerodynamics. Full internal cable routing does, too.
The tube shaping extends into the seatpost. Whether it was that shaping or ultra tight tolerances or something else, the post was very, very difficult to take in and out. I ended up needing a rubber mallet to get it down far enough and then again to get it out to pack up the bike for return. Other than that, I had no issues with the bike. The shaping at the top of the head tube didn’t line up perfectly with the headset cap, but that seemed to only affect aesthetics slightly, not performance.
Little things like white cable housing and pre-installed cable bumpers and inline barrel adjusters improved the overall experience. And the bumpers were appreciated, preventing the shift cable housing from rattling against the head tube. I was also a fan of the graphics. The logo is there, but not obnoxious, and the blue paint had just enough metallic sheen to appear deeper and higher end than the price justifies.
The downtube is big, but doesn’t scream “look at me, I’m oversized!” like some. Yet it fills the entire width of the BB shell…
…then transitions into stout chainstays. The seatstays are thin, which kept the bike comfortable over mottled roads. Both the frame and the fork use continuous fibers running throughout, which generally improves a frame’s strength while keeping weight low. For the fork, the fibers run unbroken from dropout to top of steerer.
Fork legs and seatstays offer plenty of tire clearance, but things get a little tighter at the chainstays, leaving only a smidgen of extra space for upgrading from the stock 700×23 Hutchinsons.
The included Aerus Quantum AL-24 alloy rims have a shallow aero profile laced to generic hubs with bladed spokes. As a package, they get the job done and rode well enough, but the parts allowance was spent elsewhere…like a nearly full Ultegra 6800 group with Rotor 3D30 crankset with N0Q (round) chainrings.
I’ve been hesitating to use the word “surprised” to describe my reaction to the bike’s pleasant riding characteristics. After all, if a brand can survive several owners in rapid fire succession, there must be something to the bikes, right? The Axino seemed to prove that with a smooth ride and predictable handling that’d likely impress any roadie. There was no drama, and no “well, I can live with this quirk because this other aspect is so killer”, it was just a generally good all ’round road bike. The price is equally good, giving you a full carbon frame and solid build that’s very much worthy of upgrading (mainly looking at the wheels) for $3,128. Worth a look, especially considering the price is closer to what you’d find with direct-to-consumer bikes but they’re sold through and supported by a proper dealer network.