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Tifosi CK3 Giro 1.1 review

24 Mar 2017
Verdict:

Great fun to ride and only a set of race-day wheels away from being legitimately fast

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£850

There’s a certain type of race-oriented bike nerd for whom the arrival of the RJ Chicken & Sons catalogue represents a genuine event.

For years, they’ve imported all sorts of exotic European bikes and equipment to our frequently grey island.

Tifosi, the Italian word for sports fan, is the company’s house marque. Having built a solid reputation for no-fuss bikes among the country’s club riders, we were excited to see just how quick their budget racer might be.

The frame

A lot of work has gone into shaping the Tifosi’s various tubes. The underneath of the large down tube is flattened, as is the uppermost part of the top tube, presumably to improve their torsional stiffness.

The chainstays are short and chunky. A relative lack of length ensures the rear wheel stays tucked-in towards the seat tube and keeps the wheelbase to a minimum for quick turning.

Their burly profile resists twisting under pressure from the pedals. Terminating at a pair of neat clamshell dropouts, the shape of the chainstays provides a sizeable area for the junction weld between the two, further increasing stiffness.

Welds across the frame are neat and functional, as is the finishing. Fitted with a tapered aluminium steerer, the fork’s carbon blades exhibit no noticeable side-to-side movement.

The cable routing mixes aesthetics and practicality. While the rear brake line remains outside of the frame, the gear cables are neatly routed internally, entering just behind the head tube and leaving through a neat port just before the bottom-bracket shell.

Groupset

Most of the slots on the Tifosi’s groupset are filled by Shimano’s ultra-reliable and extremely competent 5800-series 105 components.

As is fairly standard practice, a couple have been substituted with an eye to keeping the bike’s retail price down.

Chief among these is the crankset. The second priciest component, after the integrated shifter-brake levers, it’s a bit of a shame to miss out on Shimano’s excellent cranks and chainrings.

FSA’s Gossamer model is a capable enough stand-in, although not quite as stiff, pretty or smooth shifting.

Tektro R312 callipers take on braking duties. These are affordable enough to swap, and even Shimano’s most basic models would boost stopping power.

Finishing kit

The Selle Royal Seta saddle is long and flat, making it easy to shunt yourself back and forward along its length.

This suits the character of the bike, which rewards regularly changing position. The bars are also a nice shape, with the hoods and drops both within easy reach.

The seatpost is a secure and easily adjustable two-bolt model. At 31.6mm in diameter it’s unlikely to do much to deaden juddering from the roads though.

Wheels

Bikes at this price tend to stick with fairly conventional wheelsets, and the Tifosi is no exception.

However, with a reasonably sparse 24 conventional spokes bracing the lightweight, relatively narrow Weinmann rims there’s certainly no unnecessary flab.

Even with wire-bead tyres fitted they gain speed easily. Schwalbe’s Lugano rubber are exactly the sort of tyres you’d expect to find on board.

Tough and grippy enough, swapping them for something lighter and more flexible would be the single easiest and most cost effective way of improving the speed and handling of this bike.

The ride


The Tifosi looks racy both on paper, due to a short wheelbase and steep head angle, and in the flesh, thanks to its radically shaped tubing and aggressive paint job.

Leaning down to grab the bars, it instantly felt as if we were getting aboard a proper race bike, something our brain normally associates with more expensive machines. Which is silly because a bike’s angles needn’t have any effect on its cost.

Happily, initial acceleration seems to tally with the bike’s racy credentials. On the road With a tapered carbon fork up front, housed in a squat head tube, the CK3 Giro is low and mean.

This instantly drops the rider into a fairly flat-backed position that’s designed for faster riding.

The comparatively light wheels and unyielding frameset mean there’s little stopping it from propelling the rider forwards.

At first glance, the Tifosi’s variably profiled down tube is large enough to be mistaken for carbon.

Made with what feel to be quite thin walls it appears to dampen vibration at the front end, yet resists twisting from efforts at the bars.

While the bottom half of the bike is brawny, the upper part (seatstays and top tube) is noticeably skinnier.

The idea here is to absorb impacts and increase comfort. It works well enough and the bike certainly isn’t uncomfortable, but the ride is definitely firm, something which is added to by the oversize seat tube and post.

While the marketing might say ‘sportive’, there’s definitely a good chunk of racer DNA in the Tifosi’s makeup.

Not that that’s a bad thing, although we’d rather ride an hour-long crit race on it than a 100-mile epic.

Definitely a bike that’s happy to accelerate, it’d be reassuring to be able to stop equally quickly. Unfortunately, the brakes require a fair squeeze to elicit much stopping power.

They also feature far stronger return springs than the equivalent Shimano models, which left our hands aching on prolonged descents.

The tight geometry and low front end mean the Tifosi is happy railing around flat corners as tightly as the traction provided by the relatively basic tyres will allow.

The fairly aggressive geometry makes keeping hold of it tricky if you don’t have decent flexibility, while its nippy handling would best suit an experienced and conscientious rider.

That means if you’re looking for a bike to build fitness from a low base, rack up big miles or attempt a first sportive, you’ll likely be better served elsewhere.

However, those looking to jump in at the deep end, or younger, more flexible riders with competitive aspirations but limited budgets, will find a bike that’s great fun to ride and only a set of race-day wheels away from being legitimately fast.

Ratings

Frame: In a word: stiff. Underlining its racy credentials. 8/10
Components: Mostly Shimano 105 although not the crankset. 8/10 
Wheels: Slender Weinmann rims add pace not weight. 8/10 
The Ride: Lively. Could be a bit much for an inexperienced rider. 8/10

VERDICT

Fast angles means a fast ride on this budget rider that’s just a set of race-day wheels away from being genuinely speedy.

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 547mm 545mm
Seat Tube (ST) N/A 505mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 628mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 382mm
Head Tube (HT) 155mm 150mm
Head Angle (HA) 73 73
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 73.5
Wheelbase (WB) 977mm 980mm
BB drop (BB) N/A 69mm

Spec

Tifosi CK3 Giro 1.1
Frame TFX ULTRA Aluminium, carbon bladed fork
Groupset Shimano 105 5800, 11-speed
Brakes Tektro R312
Chainset FSA Gossamer, 50/34
Cassette Shimano 105 5800, 11-28
Bars ONE Sport Compact
Stem ONE Sport
Seatpost ONE Sport
Wheels Weinmann Flier/ONE KT
Saddle Selle Royal Seta
Weight 9.08kg (size M)
Contact tifosicycles.co.uk

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