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Condor Acciaio Stainless review

22 Apr 2022
Verdict:

The Condor Acciaio Stainless is the kind of bike you will never tire of, simply because it just rides so incredibly well. Sublime

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Ride feel • Handling • Stiffness • Longevity • Braking
Against 
Weight

Condor’s Acciaio Stainless Disc takes centre stage as Condor’s most expensive steel frameset, and it shows.

Full custom paint and cable routing options as standard and tried and tested race geometry are one thing, but what sets this bike out in the Condor range, and indeed in the bike world at large, is just how brilliantly it rides.

Handling and comfort conspire with that ineffable steel spring to create a supremely lively bike that will shine in any scenario, so long as you’re not trying to win a hill climb.

‘It’s Condor’s most expensive bike to date – but this brilliant steel machine truly deserves to be.’ Thus spake my erstwhile colleague Stu Bowers back in January 2013. (I miss you, Stu.)

The bike in question was Condor’s Acciaio Stainless (‘acciaio meaning “steel” in Italian and pronounced A-Cha-Yo, imagine an Italian sneezing’ – thanks again Stu). It cost £2,800 for the frameset and it blew my young mind.

Nine years on the Acciaio Stainless is still very much alive and has been joined by this disc brake version. Price has increased drastically – frames are now £3,799.99 – but this might be more illuminating than shocking.

Speaking to brands over these past few years, inflation plus Brexit plus myriad other factors means bikes just cost more. Everything costs more. I could buy a pint for under a fiver in 2013.

That’s not to excuse the cost – it’s a serious wedge – but for the cash you’ll get a bike that will make you wonder why you ever bothered riding anything else. It just feels that good.

Condor Acciaio Stainless frameset and build

Head-to-toe this is a classic racer’s race bike. Its tubes are steel and round, the groupset and wheels are Campagnolo, the geometry is racy and the frame is handbuilt in Italy.

Yet this isn’t an old-school steed. There are the discs, obviously, the head tube is oversized at 44mm (up from the traditional 1 1/8 inch), the down tube 42mm (up from 38mm), and there’s clearance for 32mm tyres. And, says Condor’s Claire Beaumont, there are many options besides, all included in the price.

‘Full custom paint is standard, including things such as fades and stripes. If you choose an electronic or wireless groupset, we can customise the frame bosses to suit, and we also offer internal routing.’ 

All Acciaio Stainless bikes are handbuilt to order in Veneto, northern Italy. If this bike were mine I’d opt for a different colour to the Mercier team/Raymond Poulidor-inspired paintjob (poor Raymond, ever second, and not much matches purple), and I’d look to hide as many hoses as possible. Yet I doubt I’d opt for electronic gears.

The Chorus groupset features Ultra-Shift, where a sweep of the thumb dumps the chain through five sprockets more rapidly than any electronic group out there, all with a satisfying thunk.

But more than that, mechanical groupsets seem to complement this bike, because this bike is all about unfiltered cycling experience.

Condor Acciaio Stainless performance

There are more aero bikes, there are lighter bikes and there are stiffer bikes. The Acciaio Stainless is not going to win a WorldTour race.

But honestly, the differences aren’t as much as you might think. This frame is plenty stiff enough for anyone not competing in a Cat 1 crit, and it winches itself up climbs in a way that belies its 8.6kg (of which 1,700g is frame). Truly, that weight just doesn’t much tell on the road.

The tyres play their part for comfort and grip, but it’s the way the frame flexes subtly that is so crucial. With Campagnolo’s latest disc brakes – still my favourite-feeling on the market – the Acciaio Stainless can be thrown into corners with abandon.

Brake late and the frame scrubs speed with the feeling that if anything’s going to give, it’s you. Lean low and the frame tracks undulations and feeds back in a way that says you can lean even lower. The grip is immense.

Then there’s the just pedalling along, a pursuit that comprises most rides and which the Acciaio Stainless carries out with aplomb. How does it do it? It’s the material and how it’s used.

This is Columbus XCr, which is stiffer and stronger than Columbus’s top-tier regular steel, Omnicrom. Omnicrom’s ultimate tensile strength (the point at which if pulled it breaks) is 1,300MPa, its yield strength (the point at which if bent it stays permanently deformed) is 920MPa. By contrast, XCr is 1,450MPa and 1,000MPa respectively.

Thus, marginally less material is needed to achieve the same strength and stiffness as a non-stainless bike, which helps the Acciaio Stainless scrub around 300g off Condor’s near-identikit Super Acciaio frame, which is 2,000g and made from Columbus HSS, an Omnicrom steel.

There’s a little more to it than that – for example, the Super Acciaio boasts a wider 44mm down tube – but still, Columbus XCr helps the Acciaio Stainless feel that touch lighter. And being stainless, it won’t corrode.

Condor Acciaio Stainless verdict

Yes, the trade-off over a carbon bike is gaining grams and eschewing aero-ness, yet I’m still magnetically drawn to this bike. It is a simple, exquisitely well-made race bike.

Its looks are classic so it will age gracefully, it will live forever and its ride quality can’t be bettered.

It is – and I don’t say this lightly – a contender for the bike I’d choose if I could only have one bike, and the reason is simple: the Acciaio Stainless is a pure joy to ride. Technology and taste may change, but that fact never will.

Pick of the kit

Maap kit, £135/£235


Maap kit, £135/£235, maap.cc

Maap’s Evade jersey is as comfortable a race-fit jersey as I’ve ever worn. The arms are a honeycomb mesh, which aids stretch no end, while the Lycra-smooth body is tight but not overtly so.

Down below, Maap’s Alt_Road Cargo Bibs (£235) might be gravel-intended, but I find the two thigh pockets incredibly useful on any ride, though I’d consider sizing up compared to Maap’s road bibs.

What I like most is that I tore this jersey badly on the sleeve, but for a couple of quid my local tailor at Leenaz Dry Cleaners stitched it back up. Reduce, re-use, keep cycling and all that.

• Buy the Maap kit from Maap

Condor Acciaio Stainless alternatives

Condor Leggero SL Disc

The Leggero SL Disc (£3,699.99 frameset) is Condor’s lightest disc bike, with a claimed 850g frame weight. Round tubes blended with competitive weight and decent stiffness make it a sublime ride.

Condor Super Acciaio Disc

The Super Acciaio spawned the Stainless, which shares its geometry and racy-steel ethos. However, since this Acciaio Disc is made from regular Columbus HSS steel, the frameset is half the price at £1,699.99.



Condor Acciaio Stainless spec

Frame Condor Acciaio Stainless
Groupset   Campagnolo Chorus Disc
Brakes Campagnolo Chorus Disc
Chainset Campagnolo Chorus Disc
Cassette Campagnolo Chorus Disc
Bars Deda Zero100
Stem Deda Superleggero
Seatpost Deda Zero100
Saddle Deda Zero100
Wheels Campagnolo Shamal Carbon Disc, Continental GP5000 28mm clincher tyres
Weight 8.6kg (55cm)
Contact condorcycles.com

Products reviewed by Cyclist are independently selected and tested by our editorial team. Cyclist may earn an affiliate commission if you make a purchase through a retailer link. Read our reviews policy.

Price: 
£6,864 (£3,799.99 frameset)

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