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Tifosi CK7 Gran Fondo

17 Oct 2016
Verdict:

The Tifosi CK7 is fully-equipped and built for comfort.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£999
For 
Fun and practical
Against 
Fork could be stiffer

Despite the Italian name, Tifosi is a thoroughly British brand, designed for British conditions. Featuring what Tifosi calls ‘comfort geometry’, the CK7 Gran Fondo is claimed to be a quick and reliable bike on which to undertake a whole year of training, commuting and sportives. For a winter bike, we’d gladly trade a little speed for reliability, so if the claims ring true, the Tifosi could be on to a winner. It even comes with Flinger full-length mudguards as standard, and dips just under the £1000 mark into the bargain. 

Frameset 

The Tifosi sports a 7005 double-butted alloy frame, using largely round tubing but with a curving top tube and ovalised down tube, which adds stiffness. A 145mm head tube is short enough to continue the feeling of stoutness to the whole machine and leads to a slender carbon-fibre fork with a sizeable offset for extra comfort, albeit at the expense of directness. As well as the mudguards, there’s also mounting points for a rear rack, lending the bike even more practicality. A steering head angle of 72.4° combined with a seat angle of 74.6° forces you forward in the most comfortable way possible, and ensures that quick response is there when you need it. Cables are entirely externally routed, so you’ll need to keep an eye on cleaning. Anti-corrosion primer, plus two coats of paint should ensure frame durability though.

Groupset 

Campagnolo shifters and brake levers are exceptionally comfortable in use, and work well with the Miche 50/34 chainset. It’s not slick, it just works, and we’d argue that’s exactly what you need in a winter bike. The 10-speed, 12-26 cassette may lack the 28-tooth cog of other bikes of this type but it doesn’t suffer unduly. 

Finishing kit 

The Italian theme is continued into the good quality Cinelli finishing kit and the Selle Italia X1 Plus saddle, which is particularly comfortable, is well padded yet supportive, with just the right amount of flex in its body.

Wheels 

Miche’s Reflex 7 rims with bladed spokes are matched to Miche hubs with cartridge bearings. Overall, they’re not too weighty, which helps the bike to make the most of its agility. Cartridge bearings won’t require any maintenance – perfect for just getting on with the job of riding. Vittoria’s Rubino Pro Endurance are tyres we’d gladly ride all winter. They’re comfortable, provide confidence in cornering, and are unlikely to spin on greasy hills.

The ride

We were a little surprised to find that, within five miles of riding, the Tifosi revealed its lively side – in a good way. For a bike designed to take on nasty weather and rubbish roads, the CK7 is surprisingly happy to punch out of corners like no bike with full-length guards has any right to. 

Whether you favour Shimano or Campag is a matter of personal preference, but on the few occasions we’re sent a Campag-equipped bike to test, we’re always blown away by the comfort the Italian firm’s brake hoods lend to a ride. The Tifosi’s frame geometry puts you more over the front of the bike than you might normally expect of a more upright winter trainer – a 74.6° seatpost angle is responsible, and it puts you in the correct position whether you’re attacking false flats in the saddle or grinding up a climb. Climbing on a bike that weighs more than 10kg is a far cry from the 6.8kg superbike experience, but the CK7 acquits itself well on our local lumps and bumps, its 50/34 chainset meshing well with a 12-26 cassette to provide ample choices of ratio. The pronounced jumps between the cogs of the 10-speed block are typical of Campagnolo groupsets, as are the positive clunks from the finger and thumb shifters. Our only gripe is that the flexibly mounted finger shifters are hard to engage positively when wet, so if you’re wearing winter gloves, it’s a good idea to make sure they’ve a grippy pad on the first two fingers. Frame comfort is far better than the alloy rigs of old, with very little vibration reaching either our hands or posterior. It is on the more ‘performance’ side of stiff, though. Selle Italia’s X1 Plus saddle offers good support, too, and all-day comfort.

The key word here is confidence. It’s there in abundance. Power transfer afforded by the oval-profiled down tube’s junction with the bottom bracket is more than good enough for winter training drills, while the geometry up front is perfectly comfortable; but moving the three 10mm spacers above the stem transforms the bike into something more aggressive, giving you the confidence to get low down and attack corners with gusto. The wheelbase is well under the magic metre, which lends the whole package a lively feel. Miche’s brake callipers aren’t the strongest we’ve tested, but adequate enough to scrub speed off when entering blind downhill corners, and the bike’s performance once cranked over and tracking a line is excellent. The slender carbon fork isn’t the stiffest, but does a great job of soaking up road imperfections. In brief, the bike is quick when you want it to be, a willing training partner, but robust enough to deal with a British winter. We like!

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 535mm 535mm
Seat Tube (ST) 460mm 460mm
Down Tube (DT) 628mm
Fork Length (FL) 382mm
Head Tube (HT) 145mm 145mm
Head Angle (HA) 72.5 72.4
Seat Angle (SA) 74.5 74.6
Wheelbase (WB) 980mm 983mm
BB drop (BB) 67mm

Spec

Tifosi CK7 Gran Fondo
Frame Double-butted 7005 alloy frame, carbon fork
Groupset Campagnolo Veloce
Brakes Miche
Chainset Miche Team, 50/34
Cassette Campagnolo Veloce, 12-26
Bars Cinelli Vai, alloy
Stem Cinelli Vai, alloy
Seatpost Cinelli Vai, alloy
Wheels Miche Reflex RX7
Saddle Selle Italia X1 Plus
Weight 10.24kg
Contact tifosicycles.co.uk

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