Tommaso’s entry-level offering, Imola, checks all the boxes as a perfect starter road bike. It has an exceptionally high-quality frameset (frame and fork) and a full Shimano Claris groupset. This, combined with a very reasonable price, makes Imola our recommended top choice for beginner cyclists.
Made of 6061 aluminum, Imola’s frame is lightweight and sturdy. It has endurance-type of design, where the top tube is angled towards the seat post. This means it’s perfect for long rides, as your body will naturally take a more upright position. The top tube is fully hydroformed to give it a stylish and dynamic look.
The overall frame design is time-proven and its durability will ensure you will enjoy the bike for many years to come.
The frame so well-built that it can easily handle riders over 300 lbs. of weight, but if you’re over 230 pounds you will need to make sure you use a 32-spoke wheel on the rear (more on that below).
Imola is available in three colorways – white, black and orange.
The fork used in Imola is made of SST (stainless) steel. It’s true that many of us are more used to see aluminum forks in the spec sheets of entry-level or even mid-range bikes. However, in the case of this bike, steel actually makes more sense.
See, aluminum forks are stiff and dampen the vibrations from the road surface in a less efficient way, compared to steel. Where aluminum fork wins is its weight. Depending on its design, it can be anywhere from 30 to 50 percent lighter (again, compared to a steel one with similar design).
Now, let’s calculate. Usually, an aluminum fork on a road bike weighs approximately two pounds. A 30 to 50% increase to that results in a single pound of extra weight, in a worst-case scenario.
Unless you’re a hardcore weight weenie it hardly makes any difference at all. Especially considering the fact that the frame, which contributes the majority of bike’s total weight is made of lightweight aluminum.
The pluses of a steel fork for a starter bike like Imola, however, outweigh the downsides, by far. Yes, it’s dampening capability will still be less impressive than that of carbon forks (but still much better than aluminum!), however, the durability is far superior. If you still want carbon fork – have a look at the next bike in Tommaso lineup – Forcella.
Tommaso is one of the few manufacturers that offer beginner bike with a full Shimano Claris groupset. This means that every component of drivetrain and brakes comes from the same series.
Not only it offers great quality, but it also ensures that all parts of the bike will work together like they are intended to work by engineers who designed them. Even on a lower-grade bike, Fascino, Tommaso uses full Shimano groupset, but in that case it’s a more basic Tourney.
Of course, Claris is an entry-level groupset in Shimano’s road bike lineup. However, it’s perfectly adequate for beginner use. And, it’s designed to be used on road bikes. This is especially important, as many budget road bikes are equipped with cheaper Tourney components. They work but are designed for leisure and kids bikes, rather than putting some serious miles.
Having all components coming from the same series also means easier and cheaper maintenance. In case one of the parts wears out, a new one can be easily found and replaced. And, an added bonus – it will fit like a glove. Much better than trying to find a no-name part, or replacing it with another one and experiencing all kinds of compatibility issues.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of Imola’s groupset specs:
It comes equipped with an 11-28T cassette (8 gears), which is pretty standard for bikes of this level today. We feel it’s a sweet spot of good gear range both for flat terrain and steep hills. Gear shifts will be smooth, thanks to the gradual difference between the sprockets.
And, combined with a 30/39/50T triple crankset, you have a wide selection of 24 speeds to choose for any kind of hill or flat.
Shimano Claris rear derailleur.
Combined with a 20-mm rim profile on wheels, Shimano Claris R2000 caliper-style V-brakes provide a solid amount of stopping power and perform equally well in all weather conditions.
Same R200-series Claris brakes are used on both rear and front, which means easy service and hassle-free shopping for replacement pads.
Claris R2000 front caliper brakes.
Tommaso equip Imola with their custom set of lightweight aluminum rims. As mentioned above, spoke count on them is 20 (front) – 24 (back) and they have a 20mm profile.
Tommaso Corsa TC-20 wheel.
Stock wheels can handle up to 230 lbs of rider’s weight. If you weigh more than that, we recommend considering a wheelset with at least 32 spokes on the rear wheel.
The bike comes with Kenda K152 700x25c tires, which are pretty standard at this price point, and come as standard with many similar bikes.
Please note that the maximum recommended tire width on Imola is 700x28c. These will be a bit more stable and suit city cycling more.
We also recommend paying special attention to proper wheel setup during assembly. If not done right, they will start wobbling over time.
Tommaso equip Imola with the same handlebar as it puts on more expensive bikes in its lineup, even carbon bikes. And we can say for sure it’s one of the most comfortable handlebars you can find in bikes at this price range and even slightly more.
High-quality handlebar provides maximum comfort in both upright and aerodynamic positions.
They partnered with WTB to equip the bike with Volt saddle. It’s still pretty good for beginners, but as you progress, we’d recommend replacing it with something stiffer. This seat was specifically designed for mountain bikes. Yes, for beginners it’s still more comfortable than those for road bikes, but eventually, you will want to replace it.
Pedals it comes with are standard platform flats. And again, while it’s ok to use them for the first couple of months, as you get used to bike more and gain some strength, you will feel the urge to replace them with contactless ones pretty soon. They are just more efficient and safer during climbs and regular rides.
In the Small size, Imola weighs 23.6 pounds and 24.8 pounds in XL. So, as you can see, in terms of weight, that steel fork is not a problem at all. Bike’s total weight is on par even with more expensive competitors.