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Condor Super Acciaio review

Condor Super Acciaio review
1 May 2015
Verdict:

In a world dominated by aluminium and carbon, the Super Acciaio sets out to show steel bikes can still be raced.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2,150
For 
Stiff and comfortable
Against 
Heavy

London-based Condor Cycles first showed off this bike in 2010 when then Rapha Condor rider Dan Craven rode a prototype version in criterium races. He liked it so much that this earned the bike the nickname Steely Dan before its official launch in 2011 as the Super Acciaio. Handmade in Italy with customisable spec and a choice of colours, it even comes with a free bike fit thrown in.

Frame

Condor Super Acciaio fork

Steel has a reputation for comfort. The thing is, most people who tell you that haven’t ridden a steel frame in 20 years – or, if they have, the bike they rode was 20 years old. Back then, models had narrow gauge tubing, a one-inch headset, quill stems, low-profile lightweight rims and undersized handlebars. No wonder they were comfortable. In the last two decades tube profiles have expanded, head tubes have increased in diameter and become tapered, and the bottom bracket has stiffened.

Forget everything you’ve ever read about steel; the Super Acciaio is different.

Condor has taken these innovations and applied them to custom triple-butted steel (strengthened internally at the joints without adding weight), creating a bike that is nothing like those of previous eras. The head tube is a sculpted tapered unit, a rarity in steel, and houses a tapered 1.5in to 1.125in carbon fork from Columbus. Likewise, the bottom bracket is an oversized modern pressfit design – in this instance BB30. The bearings, which press directly into the frame, are cheap to replace but they need to be refreshed more often than those of most bottom brackets. A good thing about the design is the increased weld area for the down tube, which boosts stiffness. The model comes in 46, 49, 52, 55, 58 or 61cm, but as it comes with a bike fit, choosing the right size isn’t an issue.

Components

Condor Super Acciaio components

Given that the frame and fork cost £1,399, the budget for parts was somewhat restrained but, with an all-in cost of £2,150, we think we got a good build. Instead of Shimano’s stalwart 105 groupset, we chose SRAM’s third-tier 22-speed Rival – it looks great and once you're acquainted with the DoubleTap mechanism (push once to drop down the cassette; keep pushing to move it up), the shift is crisp and predictable. The alloy levers feel great and riding on the hoods is a real pleasure.

Our bike was built with Deda bars and stem (both desirable aftermarket parts), Condor’s own carbon post and one of our tester’s favourite saddles, the Fizik Aliante. It’s worth noting that, coming from a well-respected shop, the attention to detail in the Super Acciaio’s build was a notch above what we'd normally expect. The way the bars were taped (pulled taut, evenly wrapped to the logos near the stem and finished with trimmed electrical tape) and the position of the hoods inspired confidence from the off, and allowed us to simply hop on and ride.

Wheels

This was where the constraints of our budget really took effect. Mavic Aksiums are by no means bad but, at 1,774g, they’re neither light, wide or aero. They are however tough and reliable, so they’re a good training choice. Aksiums would normally be supplied with Mavic’s own Yksion Elite tyres, but Condor upgraded those to ultra reliable 25mm Continental GatorSkins. This isn’t a wheelset we’d choose to race on but they're stiff, so when you sprint for a sign or launch an attack uphill, they respond quickly and efficiently. The tyres are grippy enough and, above all, resilient.

The ride

Condor Super Acciaio frame

Forget everything you’ve ever read about steel; the Super Acciaio is different. First, let’s talk about the weight: it’s not light. In fact, Condor reckons the frame weighs 1,800g, 600g more than the aluminium bikes in this review. But weight on the frame is hard to notice on the road. What is evident on the road is just how stiff Condor has made this bike. It lunges like a caged lion at the mere sniff of acceleration and it needles you on group rides, trying to seduce you into launching an antisocial solo attack. The miracle is that it's not uncomfortable, given that there’s plenty of space to run 25mm tyres. It corners confidently and, when the inevitable happens – you reach for the drops and start sprinting – the front end is rock solid.

The only thing we’d change is the unnecessarily tall top cap of the headset, which we’d swap for a racier flat version – but overall we have a soft spot for the Super Acciaio, no doubt partly thanks to a couple of decent results on hilly circuit races on the 55cm version we tested in the past. We reckon it's a good option for the self-financed racer who wants a bike that will last, is easy to work on and that can perform at the highest level. More than anything though, in a world of bland carbon fibre, the Super Acciaio makes a good argument for being different.

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 537mm 533mm
Seat Tube (ST) 520mm 525mm
Down Tube (DT) 590mm
Fork Length (FL) 370mm
Head Tube (HT) 135mm 135mm
Head Angle (HA) 72.0 72.8
Seat Angle (SA) 74.0 73.0
Wheelbase (WB) 969mm
BB drop (BB) 73mm

Spec

Condor Super Acciaio (as tested)
Frame Condor/Columbus triple-butted steel, Columbus Grammy fork
Groupset SRAM Rival 22
Brakes SRAM Rival
Chainset SRAM Rival, 52/36
Cassette SRAM, 11-28
Bars Deda RHM
Stem Deda Zero1
Seatpost Condor Carbon
Wheels Mavic Aksium
Tyres Continental Gatorksin, 25c
Saddle Fizik Aliante
Contact condorcycles.com

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