Bicycling Magazine Review: Latigo RS1-D

The Custom Franco Latigo RS1-D Is Everything—and Anything—You Want It to Be



AUG 31, 2018

Price: $10,735 (as tested), $7,750 and up (complete, depending on build), $4,950 (frameset)
Weight: 16.75 lb. (L)
Style: Road
Material: Carbon
Drivetrain: SRAM Red eTap
Tire clearance: 31.5mm
The right bike for: The dreamer who not only wants an amazing bike, but also wants complete control in the creation of it.

Even with so many smartly spec’d bikes on the market—some that satisfy your every desire right off the shelf and some that, with a few upgrades down the road, can easily become your dream bike—sometimes it’s nice to be in control right from go. Franco gives you that power. Its bikes are sold direct and built to order, and each project begins with a conversation. Things the folks at Franco and I talked about when putting together the Latigo RS1-D (reviewed here): what I like and dislike about my current bike, the type of riding I mostly do, my cycling goals, my component and brand preferences, and whether or not I’ve ever had a professional bike fit (I have, so I shared that information, as well).

The name Latigo comes from Latigo Canyon Road, a popular climb in the Santa Monica Mountains near Franco’s headquarters in Newbury Park, California, which is where the Latigo frames are designed and complete builds take place. The frames are actually handmade in Italy. There are five stock sizes available, from small to extra large, but for a $1,000 upcharge, Franco offers custom geometry.

Every Latigo frame is handmade in Italy, but designed and built by Franco in California.

The size-large RS1-D I tested is a carbon, race-inspired, disc-equipped road bike (there’s a rim version, too, called the RS1). Of the 10 build kits (three each from SRAM and Campy, four from Shimano), I chose the $9,950 SRAM Level 1, which includes SRAM Red eTap with HRD (hydraulic road disc), Zipp SL Speed stem and seatpost, and a Zipp SL70 Ergo handlebar. I did upgrade from Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon wheels to SL USTs, and the Fizik R3 saddle for the company’s Antares 00, bringing the total cost to $10,735.

When the RS1-D arrived, assembly was a breeze: Install the wheels and eTap batteries, clamp the bar to the stem, and insert the seatpost—the latter two of which were conveniently marked with my exact measurements. From the initial phone call to final delivery takes about three months, whether you choose a stock size or custom geometry.

The first clickable button you see when you search the Latigo RS1-D on Franco’s website reads: Start the Dream. It couldn’t be more accurate. It was clear from the first ride that this bike was tailored for me.

The Latigo Family

There are two Latigo models: the rim-brake RS1 and the RS1-D, the disc model tested here. Both are available in sizes small through extra large, as well as with custom geometry—a $1,000 upcharge and an uncommon option for carbon frames. The RS1-D is available in four colors: Team Blue (tested), Brilliant Silver, Racing Red, and Sapphire Blue. The RS1 is available in Team Blue, Racing Red, and Stealth Black.

The RS1-D if offered as a frameset for $4,950 and in 10 complete builds—three each from SRAM and Campagnolo, four from Shimano—ranging in price from $7,750 to $12,950. At the lowest end, you can choose between SRAM Force 22 and Shimano Ultegra; at the highest, you get Campy Super Record EPS. The RS1 is available in three builds: Shimano Ultegra Di2 ($6,500), Shimano Dura-Ace ($8,500), and Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 ($9,500).

The RS1-D I tested has Team Blue paint with yellow and gold accents. Other colors include Brilliant Silver, Racing Red, and Sapphire Blue.

Proven Standards

The Latigo RS1-D has an integrated seat clamp, and takes a standard 27.2mm seatpost and English BSA bottom bracket (which, unlike the Italian style BB, is reverse threaded). It also comes with ports to accommodate both mechanical and electronic shifting, depending on the option you choose. Tire clearance tops out at 31.5mm, which allowed plenty of room for the 28c Pirelli PZero tires that came with the bike. Modern-standard, flat-mount disc brakes with either 140mm or 160mm rotors and 12mm thru-axles round out the package.

Looks Matter

I love riding bikes. I also love looking at bikes. Instead of putting the Franco away after each ride, I found myself lugging it back up to my office after lunch rides or displaying it in easy-to-admire spots at home. In addition to the clean lines of the frame and fork, it’s clear that the understated, monochromatic blue paint with small hits of yellow and gold, as well as the size and placement of the logos, are the works of a true graphic designer. There’s no denying that a bike needs to ride well, but it should also perform visually. The Latigo RS1-D does both.

Small details, like these gold stars, just add to the RS1-D’s aesthetic appearance.

How It Rides

I could go on and on about the high-quality components and how powerful the disc brakes are. How stable this bike is at speed, in corners, and when accelerating. I could talk about the comfortable yet aggressive position it put me in that is equally ideal for all-day adventures as it is for all-out sprints with friends. Or how, though it’s most suitable for pavement, it’s also plenty capable on dirt and gravel. I could do that, because every bit of it is true. As it should be for a high-end bike at this price that was built to my spec. But there’s more to how a bike rides than just the technical aspects of it. There’s how it makes you feel, too.

1 comment

  • I can attest to this review completely. Mine rides like a dream ❤️❤️

    Trevor Gonzalez

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