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Condor Leggero review

27 Jun 2016
Verdict:

London-based Condor has forged an Italian partnership for its Leggero, the latest aero road creation.

Price: 
£2,500 (frameset)

What do you get if you cross a London bicycle company, whose near 70-year heritage includes having made bikes for the likes of Tom Simpson and Bradley Wiggins, with a highly-respected Italian bespoke carbon framebuilder? Answer – the new Condor Leggero. It’s the latest carbon model in Condor’s stable, with an aero focus, created in direct collaboration with carbon masters Sarto in Venice. 

‘Condor’s relationship with Sarto is built on trust and understanding from working closely together for around 12 years,’ says Condor’s head of design, Ben Spurrier. He insists this is not a simple reworking of the previous model; this latest Leggero has undergone a substantial redesign, with the stays, seat tube and the seatpost, plus a new straight-bladed fork, completely new for 2016. As a result, the new model is both lighter and substantially more aero than its predecessor.

Condor Leggero seat tube

Make no mistake, this is not just a rebadged Sarto. You cannot buy this bike from Sarto’s portfolio. It is a proprietary build and entirely exclusive to Condor. 

London-Venice-London

Spurrier explains in a little more detail just how the partnership works: ‘The design is always ours in the first instance. We send over our design ideas, the proportions, shapes and ride feel we would like to work to and then Sarto comes back with what it feels is feasible and physically possible to create, rendering something as close as it can to what our original requirements were. In the case of the Leggero the render was actually very close to our original plans, as those plans were by no means outlandish. The Leggero was well within the bounds of Sarto’s possibilities.

We have deliberately not gone so far out for aerodynamics that it would begin to look more like a Cervélo. We really wanted it to retain the Leggero character – refined and classic.

‘We worked on the overall look to make it more contemporary. We wanted it to be a little more aggressive than its predecessor while maintaining the classic poise that Condor is renowned for. We hear from our customers all the time that they appreciate the classic look. We have deliberately not gone so far out for aerodynamics that it would begin to look more like a Cervélo [S5] or the Specialized Venge, for example. We really wanted it to retain the Leggero character – refined and classic.’ 

Personally I have always preferred a road bike with more of a traditional appearance over complex amalgamations of wavy and bulbous tube forms, so the Leggero wins favour with me on an aesthetic level. That said, while it doesn’t shove its aero credentials in your face, it’s undeniably a sturdy-looking construction, with a fair bit of girth in some of its tubes. 

Condor Leggero race number

When I pressed Spurrier on the frame design, it appears the Leggero’s aero stylings are based less on wind-tunnels and CFD and more on Sarto’s extensive experience plus feedback from Condor’s pro riders (the eagle-eyed might just spot the race number holder still on this test bike behind the rear brake calliper as proof of some pro peloton action). Spurrier emphasises that the Leggero is about more than just aerodynamics, and was always designed to be a bike that’s a pleasure to ride all day – something I would wholeheartedly agree with having done exactly that.

Life saver

Often it takes a number of rides to get used to a bike – to feel completely at home – particularly when it comes to handling. On the Leggero, though, I felt entirely at ease from my first pedal strokes. It remained poised and stable whether I was pitching into high-speed turns or simply taking a hand off the bars to rummage in a jersey pocket while travelling at speed. On one particular ride its composed demeanour possibly even saved me from a nasty incident. While descending at upwards of 60kmh, the dappled sunlight on the road surface disguised a cavernous pothole, such that I didn’t see it until the very last second. With a riding buddy tucked in right behind me, it needed some quick reactions to both whip a hand off the bars to point out the crater and take evasive action myself (in the form of a bunny-hop). It all happened in a split second, but the Leggero handled the situation with aplomb. Not jittery or nervous, just planted, predictable and, well, safe. 

Condor Leggero frame

After only a short time on the bike, I stopped instinctively wincing at the sight of a bumpy stretch of tarmac ahead. On most aero bikes, I find myself tensing up whenever I approach bumpy ground, as I expect to have shockwaves surge through my body, but not so with the Leggero. The level of comfort it delivers for a bike in this category is excellent. It soaks up a good percentage of the road buzz and dampens larger bump strikes well too, despite an aero-profiled seatpost that doesn’t look like it lends itself to being a comfy perch. To whatever extent the 25mm tyres played a part in this, the fact that there’s actually room for 28s gives scope for even more plushness.

It’s not the lightest of bikes, however. Our size 56cm was close to 7.5kg, which means that committed weight-weenies might take one look at the pricetag and then shop elsewhere. I daresay you could build it a fair bit lighter with a few choice spec alterations (and a heap of extra cash), but I probably wouldn’t deviate far from Campagnolo’s offering for the groupset though – it just seems fitting and right to keep things in the Italian camp. In any case, I wasn’t aware of it being on the portly side very often, except for those few occasions when I was duking it out against a really steep gradient.

Condor Leggero review

The Leggero does a lot of things well, and it’s hard to pinpoint any real weaknesses. I’d like to think that, given the combined wealth of experience of this bike’s two creators, there is perhaps a more elegant solution to be had for the front mech mount, rather than the unsightly lump of unpainted aluminium literally bolted to the seat tube, but that’s hardly a deal-breaker. The integrated seatpost clamp also seems a little unrefined, and once tightened ends up jutting slightly proud of the top tube. It would look so much better if it all finished neat and flush, but again that’s nit-picking.

If you choose your next bike like you might choose a life partner, the Condor Leggero could be the one for you. It combines the unflappable composure of the Brits with just a touch of Italian fire. What more could you ask for?

Spec

Condor Leggero £5,500 as tested
Frame Condor Leggero
Groupset Campagnolo Chorus
Brakes Campagnolo Chorus
Chainset Campagnolo Record
Cassette Campagnolo Chorus
Bars Fizik Cyrano R3 
Stem Fizik Cyrano R1
Seatpost Condor Leggero
Wheels Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40 Elite
Saddle Fizik Arione R3 K:ium
Weight 7.41kg
Contact condorcycles.com

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