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Condor Bivio review

21 Feb 2022
Verdict:

A near-perfect example of a fast, ‘classic’ gravel bike, with wheel-size and luggage versatility to boot

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Fast • Sharp handling • Versatile
Against 
On the heavy side

The Condor Bivio is an adventurous gravel bike with a plethora of mounting options. The frameset pairs a triple-butted Columbus Spirit steel frame with a carbon fork, offering 42mm of tyre clearance for 700C tyres and 47mm clearance for 650B tyres. 

It has a nimble handling geometry and a smooth, zingy ride quality that makes it fun to use over both road and gravel.

However it is a little on the heavy side, coming in at 10.3kg for this £4,200 build using Shimano GRX. Condor offers a frameset only only option for £1,499.99 for customers that want to build the Bivio up themselves.

Condor Bivio frameset

I couldn’t have tested two more different breeds of bikes recently. If the Spoon Vars is an Arabian thoroughbred, the Condor Bivio is a Hackney – a horse best known for carriage pulling and long-distance hacking. Like the Hackney, the Bivio is designed to go most places, to go all day and to happily deal with being laden.

To achieve this, the bike has mounts aplenty. I should imagine the only thing you can’t bolt to the Bivio is another Bivio, albeit the most up-to-date frameset now has a third set of bottle bosses on the top tube, Condor having listened to customer feedback here. And while that might sound like a small point, it’s indicative of from where this bike pitches up.

The tubeset is Columbus, coming from the HSS (High Speed Steel) family but being custom rolled for Condor; the tubesets are made into frames in Italy by a small batch fabricator, or as the Italians call it, a terzista, or ‘contract builder’.

That allows Condor to make such running changes to design as adding bottle bosses, but it also speaks to the sensibilities of this bike – it’s the closest off-the-peg ride you’ll get to being custom.

Steel does tend to have that kind of quality, though. You can see its TIG welding, producing joints that are neat but not uniformly smooth like a carbon frame’s; you can see the paint, which neatly – but not perfectly – laps up against the shoreline of the brazed on, polished bird insignia on the top tube.

I like it, it feels right for a gravel bike. Steel feels right for a gravel bike, or at least this kind of gravel bike, because gravel now has sub-genres, and the Bivio I’d say sits in the category ‘classic gravel’.

Condor Bivio geometry and sizing

The Bivio will take 650b wheels with clearance for up to 47mm tyres, but to me this feels like a bike best suited to 700c wheels. The reason is that the geometry leans more towards a road bike, with a shorter head tube to accommodate a longer fork without adversely raising the front, plus a head tube angle and BB height similar to a road bike.

As Condor’s Claire Beaumont says, ‘The aim was to retain more of the handling characteristics of a road bike while instilling confidence and being comfortable off-road.’

That’s the ‘classic’ bit. The Bivio rides like gravel bikes did at the beginning, much more like a road bike designed to go off-road than many of today’s existentially troubled grountain bikes.

Don’t get me wrong, I like such bulldozer gravel bikes. I enjoy being able to thump tyres measured in inches over all manner of obstacles.

I appreciate the longer, stable geometry for gnarly downhills where you might occasionally become unceremoniously airborne. But in the Bivio I found a kind of gravel ride feel I’ve been missing.

Condor Bivio build

This isn’t a basic bike. The GRX groupset is top-tree Shimano and is impeccable, its electronic shifting precise, its lever shapes superb in the hand for off-road riding – chunkier and more pronounced than their road brethren.

The clutched rear mech helps a lot with chain slap and drop; wheels are of course tubeless ready, and cabling is minimal if not hidden.
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Riding the Condor Bivio

But the heart of the Bivio feels stripped back. The steel tells out. Pushed hard in a road sprint I could feel it begin to give, and at around 10.3kg (2.1kg for the frame), the Bivio and I will not be winning the Catford Hill Climb.

But all that I can forgive for the Bivio’s happy smoothness and zingy comfort – classic steel qualities most carbon frames have only read about in books.

In fact, a word to that steel: it’ll take a beating, and this frame even has. It’s a test bike, it has been around the block and it has a little dent in the top tube from some misdemeanour or other.

But I guarantee that dent took a serious whack to achieve and I’m certain it will never cause this bike a problem. A carbon frame would be different. Such is steel.

However, the true charm of the Bivio is the way its road bike genes mingle with the rough side of the tracks. Time and again it made a transition from pavement to trail without missing a beat.

Condor Bivio: Verdict

Compared to some gravel bikes – the 650b-based Stayer Groadinger UG springs to mind – I’d feel less comfortable smashing the Bivio over singletrack jumps, and its bigger wheels make it feel less reactive, but at the same time I’d rather pedal the Bivio across long fire roads or up a tarmacked Alpine pass where speed was my goal.

As such, the Bivio is not perfect because it’s not do-it-all, but no gravel bike is – by definition it can’t be, because both metaphorically and literally, the deeper into the forest you go the further you get from the road.

But what the Bivio does do is occupy a wide space in the middle of the road-gravel crossover. That should appeal to any roadie looking to hit the dirt.

  • Buy the Condor Bivio now from 

Pick of the kit


Wizard Works Lil Presto Barrel Bag, £65, wizard.works

In the last year or so Wizard Works has become one of my favourite brands. Its products stick out as being simultaneously fun yet no-nonsense, and this bar bag is a case in point.

It is a semi-rigid cylinder that attaches via the very simplest bungees. It has one zip for its main section, two open side pockets and some useful loops for mounting lights or lashing your flipflops to it, as various summer rides can attest.

This is one robust piece of kit that I’ve been using for a year and it shows no signs of stopping.

Condor Bivio alternatives

Condor Gravel Stainless

While £3,799.99 for a frameset is a heap of cash, the Condor Gravel Stainless is as good as a steel gravel bike gets, made from Columbus XCr stainless steel, lauded for its light weight, high stiffness and smooth ride.

• Buy the Condor Gravel Stainless from Condor (frameset £3,799.99)

Condor Super Acciaio Disc

The Super Acciaio Disc takes the same Columbus HSS steel alloy as the Bivio but recasts it in a racy mode, albeit with room for 28mm tyres to cope with bridleways too.

Buy the Condor Super Acciaio Disc from Condor (frameset £1,699.99)

Condor Bivio spec

Frame Condor Bivio Thru-Axle
Groupset   Shimano GRX Di2
Brakes Shimano GRX Di2
Crankset Shimano GRX Di2
Cassette Shimano GRX Di2
Bars Deda Gravel100
Stem Deda Zero1
Seatpost Condor Strada
Saddle Selle Italia Flite
Wheels Condor handbuilt gravel, Continental Terra Speed 40mm tyres
Weight 10.3kg
Contact condorcycles.com

All reviews are fully independent and no payments have been made by companies featured in reviews

Price: 
£1,499.99 frameset, £4,200 as tested