Condor is an achingly cool London-based brand but, with performances at the highest level and a heritage going back to 1948, there’s substance with the style. They’ve been building with steel from their beginnings and still assemble and weld their frames by hand.
In these days of homogenous aero profiled, deep-section carbon frames, the simplicity, straight lines and retro styling of quality steel tubing holds obvious appeal and the Acciaio – Italian for steel – is no exception. The crisp two-tone black and white paint-job accentuates the classic lines and results in a stunning-looking bike.
Dig beneath the paint, though, and this isn’t a frame lost in time. In a modern performance twist, carbon, magnesium, molybdenum and vanadium have been added to this top-end steel blend by Italian tube masters Dedacciai. The non-compact geometry is predominately classic racer but a taller headtube is a nod to all-day training and comfort. Mated to the frame is a full carbon Deda Nero Forza 5 fork that should enhance precise handling.
The groupset is SRAM’s second from bottom Rival and, although the Double-Tap shifting tends to provoke a love it or hate it reaction, it represents an excellent choice with plenty of trickle-down features from its stablemates.
The compact chainset and wide rear block is sensible for long and hilly days in the saddle, and the Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels are a solid compromise between performance and durability. The cockpit is taken care of with alloy offerings from Deda and a Fizik Ardea saddle finishes off the build.
The Acciaio is a bike that you instantly feel at home on. Your position is the perfect blend, offering something for every type of riding. On the tops, you’re relaxed and comfortable, ready to tap out tempo on long climbs. The hoods give you a lower aero but still not strained position to drive out long miles; down on the drops you feel genuinely racy.
Through early bends and kicking over a few small rises, you soon realise this is no super-compliant sloppy-framed tourer but a racer that willingly responds to injections of power. And without wishing to indulge in steel clichés, particularly accelerating out of bends it’s got a real zing to it. It’s hard to describe but it’s like a lively springiness that seems to launch you forwards. It’s responsive but in a subtly different way to the unyielding stiffness of a carbon or alloy bike. Even on horrendously surfaced roads, buzz is minimal and, in combination with the semi-sportive geometry, it delivers genuine day-long comfort.
On the climbs, you can’t help but notice the bike’s 9kg weight and you won’t be launching any explosive attacks. However, with the decent quality and reasonably lightweight wheels, you can diesel uphill at a consistent tempo. The gearing tends towards sit up and spin but, if you do get out of the saddle, the responsiveness means you never feel as though you’re dragging bricks. The SRAM kit shifts reliably and consistently, even under heavy climbing load.
Descending on the Acciaio is staggeringly good, and on steep, narrow, twisting and poorly surfaced lanes, we posted times that challenged £10K superbikes. The 100% predictable handling and punchiness out of bends allows you to push to the limit.
Contact : www.condorcycles.com