Plug and play – slick urban riding on a budget
Bossi’s Link frame is the same double-butted, hydro-formed 6061 alloy with neat Ghost Weld technology as their Pilot road bike. But what’s 6061 alloy, I hear you ask? Well, aluminium alloys are given a number according to the other materials they are alloyed with. In 6061’s case, aluminium is combined with magnesium and silicon. 6061 isn’t particularly special in the alloy world – it’s light, fairly strong, and weldable.
It’s one of the most commonly-used general-purpose alloys and probably mixed into dozens of things you touch each day, from your car to your can of beer. Hydro-forming, too, is a very common process in metal shaping, where hydraulic fluid is pumped through the metal in a negative mould until it conforms to the mould’s shape.
The bike comes equipped with Sora componentry, Shimano’s nine-speed sport and recreation equipment, and it’s the best fit for this machine given its price point and likely use. To my mind, the 50/34 compact chainrings worked well, but the 11–30 cassette might be better replaced with a broader range, such as an 11–34, even if that means jumps between gears will be larger. (The Sora rear derailleur should be fine to take larger sprockets). The bike is not particularly light, so any means of making it easier to ride uphill would be welcome.
The Shimano hydraulic disc brakes are a highlight of the Link’s build, contributing a lot to its sleek aesthetic and to the reliability of the ride. During testing these brakes performed reliably and consistently. Like all disc brakes, they’re great in the wet or if you’re lucky enough to be hurtling down a long descent. In traffic, they’re always going to give you plenty of stopping power, too.
Appearances are clearly important to the Bossi team, and this bike – with its deep black rims, narrow bars, sleek saddle and aero seat post – has been designed to give a clean and aerodynamic look. It’s a little bit pro, a little bit hipster. The paint job on the red Link we tested left a bit to be desired (it reminded me of a mountain bike I bought in about 1999), but the white version of the same bike, and other steeds in the Bossi stable, look much more contemporary.
Coming straight out of the box with a neat little bell, a tube of sunscreen, and a water bottle, there’s not much left to do with the Link than screw on some pedals (if the stock flat pedals don’t suit), lather up, and jump on board. The ‘plug and play’ nature of this bike was certainly one of the highlights. I loved the ergonomic grips – I could rest my palms against them when I felt lazy and was cruising along the straight bike path, or grip them more like a mountain bike when the machine needed proper commandeering.
I was also surprised to love the stock saddle - a flat, narrow, diamond-shaped Bossi-branded piece that didn’t appear at all comfortable when I first pulled it out of the box, but which was perfect for the upright, cruisey riding I did. Despite my fussiness in the seating department, it looked great and caused no problems at all. I chose to mount Shimano SPD mountain bike pedals to the Link, but you could just as easily ride it with flats, or with road pedals, depending on your allegiances, and what you’ve got lying around the garage.
I mentioned the aero seat post. It looks good and, functionally, the concealed bolt running into the top tube worked fine. I did find, however, that the seat slipped quite a bit if the seat tube bolt was not really torqued up – so don’t be gentle.
On first taking to the streets I got the sense that the Link might be a little on the twitchy side of ‘agile’ (as Bossi describe it), owing to the very steep head angle of 72.5 degrees in the medium size. I got used to it quickly, but would suggest that for a particularly nervous or cautious rider, this might not be the first bike they consider. The Link encourages an upright position and relaxed attitude, and mounts for racks on the back are a welcome addition.
This is the perfect machine for those looking to delete car travel from the simpler tasks in their weekly schedules, and I’d have loved to have taken it down to the shops or the markets for some groceries, or into work. As it was, I rode it around coastal holiday parks, the Brisbane River Ride, to coffee, and once to uni, and the Link cheerfully accepted all environments.
In a bike frame, alloy has two things going for it: it’s light, and it’s cheap. The problem with alloy, however, is that it can be quite harsh to ride, communicating a lot of the bumps from the road through the rider’s body. This was mitigated with the introduction of carbon fibre a couple of decades ago. Carbon absorbs a lot of road ‘noise’, so carbon forks, steerers, seat posts and even seat and chain stays became popular – if not necessary – features of bikes built around alloy frames.
While most high-end bikes are completely made of carbon fibre these days, it’s still possible to have a light, comfortable alloy bike by adding a few of these extras to take the sting out of the road. I’m a great lover of alloy bikes and frequently ride them, but the fact that the Link doesn’t incorporate any carbon to offset the alloy’s stiffness made my ride jarring at times - a fact not at all helped by the wheels’ stiff 32mm alloy rims.
It’s something to consider if you’ll be taking on rougher bike paths or gravelly tracks, or if you’re just looking for a soft ride feel. The 700c disc wheels look the business, though, and they’re well paired with some good all-round Kenda 28mm tyres that leave plenty of rubber on the road for grip and a bit of comfort.
Bossi’s Link looks great, with an aerodynamic simplicity that belies its budget-friendly roots. It’s the perfect bike for someone who wants a slick steed for commuting or urban transport, or for someone looking to keep fit on the weekend. While it’s got pretty whippy handling, this is easy to get used to. While the full-alloy build can be a little harsh on the hands, for $950 neat it’s a hard package to beat.