Con­dor Potenza rid­den and rated

Tested by: Vern Pitt |Miles rid­den: 467 Weight 7.5kg | Size tested: 52

Cycling Weekly - - Contents -

If you’ve ever been af­ter a great rac­ing bike with the ku­dos of a his­toric Bri­tish brand name on the down tube at any point over the last 60 years then Con­dor would have been high on your list. The Potenza comes in as the cheap­est full car­bon of­fer­ing by the Bri­tish mar­que.

Frame

The cur­rent Potenza de­sign has been in pro­duc­tion for two years now but the bike ac­tu­ally started life as a Scan­dium alu­minium model in the early 2000s and was dropped when Con­dor stepped up its move into car­bon-fi­bre.

The cur­rent ver­sion has ben­e­fited from some trickle-down from its more ex­otic sister bike the Leg­gero. The rear tri­an­gle is bor­rowed from an older ver­sion of the Leg­gero, the fork is an adap­ta­tion of the Leg­gero’s and the bike’s over­all ge­om­e­try is iden­ti­cal.

Potenza is Ital­ian for power so it’s fit­ting that this bike sports a suit­ably chunky down tube to erad­i­cate any flex back-to-front, which also looks like it’s prob­a­bly fairly good at cut­ting through the wind. It also comes with a BSA bottom bracket, es­chew­ing the vogue for pro­pri­etary stan­dards in the pur­suit of power gains, while up front it uses a ta­pered head­set to help keep things solid.

At a claimed weight of 1.5kg for the frame and fork (size 55cm) it’s not the light­est but it’s re­spectable.

You could pre­tend that what it looks like doesn’t mat­ter, but if you’re think­ing about buy­ing a Con­dor rather than just plump­ing for one of the mas­sive global brands that you can prob­a­bly eas­ily lay your hands on in your lo­cal shop, chances are you want it to stand out on the start line or club run.

On that level the frame is cer­tainly a win­ner, with a very classy matt fin­ish (I con­fess I’m a sucker for any­thing in matt grey) and a crisp green paint job — you can also get it in blue if green’s not your thing. The peacock in me cer­tainly got a kick out of look­ing down from the sad­dle at the el­e­gantly ta­per­ing top tube on more than one oc­ca­sion.

Spec­i­fi­ca­tion

You can choose what­ever you want from Con­dor, which means you can even have your Potenza with Cam­pag­nolo’s Potenza groupset if you want ex­tra-cool points, but our test rig came built with Shi­mano’s ever-pop­u­lar Ul­te­gra me­chan­i­cal groupset

with all the smooth shift­ing prow­ess it’s known for. It also has Mavic’s stal­wart Ksyrium wheels and 25mm Yk­sion Elite tyres — all a good base from which to judge the frame.

Ride

The first im­pres­sions out on the road were that the bike was a bit on the twitchy side: even with a 120mm stem the front wheel seemed über-re­spon­sive and I had to ad­just how I rode out of the sad­dle to stop it wan­der­ing on steep climbs.

How­ever, af­ter a few rides that re­spon­sive­ness turned from be­ing un­nerv­ing to in­spir­ing. You can re­ally throw the Potenza into a turn know­ing you can flick it round an un­ex­pected pot­hole with the slight­est of move­ments.

It’s not a bike to re­lax on though: if you let your at­ten­tion drift, the bumps in the road that can throw any bike’s front wheel off line can feel more pro­nounced on the Con­dor Potenza. De­spite this racy han­dling, the rear of the bike is sur­pris­ingly com­fort­able, tak­ing the worst of the buzz out of Sur­rey’s ne­glected back lanes. The same can’t be said for the front though, with the bars giv­ing plenty of feed­back. How­ever, even af­ter three or so hours it wasn’t a huge prob­lem. If there was one downside to our test set-up it was prob­a­bly the wheels. Though the Ksyri­ums are great, solid wheels the whole pack­age felt like it was scream­ing out for some­thing a bit more sprightly to give the ac­cel­er­a­tion zip that would match the snappy han­dling, es­pe­cially up­hill. For just an ex­tra £160 you can spec it with the Ksyrium Elites, save a bit of weight, and very likely im­prove the over­all feel of the bike.

Value

This isn’t the cheap­est way to get a mid-level car­bon frame­set; some can be had from more bud­get brands at a lot less. But it is on par with many of the big brands: for in­stance £1,350 will get you a Gi­ant TCR Ad­vanced Pro or with an ex­tra £50 you can buy a Trek Emonda SL.

Ital­ian flair fused with Bri­tish her­itage

Ul­te­gra adds an ex­tra layer of class

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