› Can Con­dor’s Ital­ian-made alu­minium beauty com­pete with car­bon?

Cycling Plus - - ROAD TEST -

It’s of­ten said that if you’re pay­ing around a grand you may get a bet­ter bike buy­ing alu­minium rather than ‘bud­get’ car­bon. But might that also be true when you up the ante and splash out over £2000? If first im­pres­sions of Con­dor’s Italia RC are any­thing to go by, that could be yes. It looks fan­tas­tic and, like the Rose, it has the high­est-level Cam­pag­nolo groupset of our cy­cling sex­tet, along with qual­ity wheels and tyres, at a weight on a par with a lot of sim­i­larly priced car­bon bikes.

Con­dor dates back to 1948 when Monty Young started pro­vid­ing be­spoke bi­cy­cles, later rid­den by the likes of Tom Simp­son and Bradley Wig­gins. The Ital­ian link is deeper than just stick­ing the ‘Ital­ian’ name on a Far East­ern frame, with the RC hand­made in Italy to Con­dor’s own de­sign us­ing Con­dor-spec­i­fied 7003 alu­minium tub­ing.

Con­dor’s cus­tomi­sa­tion also ex­tends to com­po­nent choices, and with the frame­set cost­ing £799.99, this al­lowed us to fit a com­plete Cho­rus groupset, Cam­pag­nolo’s Zonda wheels and 25mm Con­ti­nen­tal Grand Prix 4000S II tyres and still hit a bud­get of £2400. Okay, far from ‘cheap’, but this looks the prover­bial mil­lion dol­lars. The only cost-cut­ting com­po­nent was the sad­dle, and that’s be­cause our tester is a fan of the Charge Spoon; you could go for any of the Fizik sad­dles if you pre­fer.

It’s alu­minium, but this is no harsh-rid­ing old-school heavy­weight. The new ver­sion of the Italia RC frame is triple-butted from lighter tub­ing than be­fore, has a 1 1/8- 1 1/2in ta­pered head-tube for bet­ter han­dling and takes its ge­om­e­try cues from Con­dor’s ‘racewin­ning car­bon Leg­gero’. Our 55cm model is a shade over 8kg, and a swankier sad­dle would nudge it un­der that mark. There was still some con­cern that alu­minium paired

The Ital­ian link is deeper than just stick­ing the ‘Ital­ian’ name on a Far East­ern frame

with the over­sized 31.6mm seat­post might be harsh, es­pe­cially when the light­weight Zonda wheels favour tight­ness and speed over com­fort, but from our first ride this proved not to be the case.

There’s a great im­me­di­acy to the Con­dor’s ride, and you’re not in­su­lated from the road like you can be with more ab­sorbent car­bon. This con­nect­ed­ness is em­pha­sised by the feed­back you get from the Cho­rus shifters, which of­fer a pleas­ing re­sound­ing click. It’s a ride that never ceases to ap­peal – smooth, poised, pol­ished and with eas­ily enough com­fort for tack­ling all-day sportives or equally chal­leng­ing rides. It climbs nim­bly, which is when its low over­all weight and light­weight wheels come into their own; the stiff frame and wheels mean that changes of di­rec­tion are in­stant, con­trolled and with a di­rect point-and-shoot na­ture. The asym­met­ric down-tube, deep chain­stays and Deda fork re­sist flex, skin­nier seat­stays and the car­bon seat­post con­tribute com­fort.

The Con­dor proved to be the most sur­pris­ing of our Cam­pag­nolo con­tenders. The weight is rea­son­able for the price, re­gard­less of ma­te­rial, the ride qual­ity is first rate and it’s a thing of beauty. We’d like to see a frame weight a lit­tle lower than 1600g, which would liven things up, and 28mm tyres would be a tight squeeze even though the bike is de­signed for them, but Con­dor’s su­perb all-rounder shows alu­minium and Cam­pag­nolo at their finest.

Be­low Feed­back from the Cho­rus shifters in­creases your con­nec­tion to the road Bot­tom Cam­pag­nolo Zonda rims and Con­ti­nen­tal tyres are a good match

The ride never ceases to ap­peal – smooth, poised and with enough com­fort for all-day sportives

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