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Tifosi SS26 Aero review

20 Apr 2017
Verdict:

Balances speed, comfort and good looks - at a price

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£3,999

Like the standard SS26, the SS26 Aero – despite its racy appearance – is designed to be an all-rounder. Tifosi says it has ref ned the geometry to make sure that it’s as stiff and light as possible, ‘whether chasing down Strava segments or entering 180km sportives.’

We’ve thrown the kitchen sink at the £999 frameset to see if the extra outlay really is worth it. Whether you want to be ‘that guy’ who turns up for a century ride on 50mm deep-sections or not, well, we’ll leave up to you...

Frameset

The SS26 Aero’s frameset is an object lesson in purposeful aerodynamics. An oversized Toray carbon down tube features five edges, tapering almost to a point at its trailing edge, while a top tube so straight you could put a sight-glass in it, fill it with oil and use it as a spirit level, extends from a fat, aero profiled head tube.

The head tube is the same height as the rival Trek Domane SL5 Disc’s, so it never feels like you have your hands wrapped around the front spindle – it’s a more easy-going riding position than you’d think.

Combined with a measured head angle of 71.9°, the geometry at the front end isn’t as racy as it looks. The steep seat angle, meanwhile, positions your body over the front end, to promote control and quick direction changes.

Deep-section chainstays meet the rounded-profile seatstays at the rear axle, while an aero carbon seatpost is adjusted via a bolt hidden in the top tube.

Groupset

Campagnolo’s Chorus groupset provides all the moving parts that stop and effect gear changes on the SS26 Aero.

The carbon 53/39 chainset stands out in this test. It works in unison with an 11-29 cassette, while Campagnolo’s skeletal Chorus brake callipers run carbon-specific pads in this package, to grip the carbon braking surface of the Tifosi’s deep-section wheels.

Finishing kit

Despite the Italian-sounding name Tifosi is an English brand. However, the illusion of Italian parentage is compounded by the SS26’s finishing kit.

A Selle Italia SLR saddle offers a lightweight yet amply supportive seat (we’d be happy on it between feed stations), which sits atop an unbranded Tifosi carbon seatpost.

At the front end, Deda’s Super Zero 420mm diameter handlebars have an aero-profile top, compact drop and are gripped to the steerer by a 130mm Super Zero stem, which we found offered a good fit for our size 52 frame.

Wheels

Campagnolo’s Bora One carbon clinchers, in a 50mm section, grace this build. Yes, they’re quick; yes, they’re flashy. And yes, they’re pricey.

At just over £1,700 for the set, it’s clear where the extra cash has gone on this bike. Asymmetric spoke lacing balances out pedalling forces at the rear, plus their 24mm rim width allows the fitment of wider rubber like Michelin’s 25c Power Endurance.

They’re grippy, and wore well throughout testing, leading us to believe they’re all the tyre you’d need for a whole season of sportives. At £35 each, they’re not prohibitively expensive, either. Campag's Zondas make for a worthy alternative if you want a shallower wheelset.

On the road

The Tifosi is certainly a stunning looking bike – it’s amazing what a classy paintjob can do to transform a bike, and the colour scheme here is just beautiful.

Even more importantly, the bike is nowhere near as harsh to ride as it looks. Neither does it require stacks of commitment to get the best from it, as the first five miles of our loop demonstrated.

The Tifosi might look like a race bike, but as a package it actually lets you to wring every last drop of performance from it, and allows you to shine.

Campag’s Chorus shifters have a very positive, almost clunky operation, but are faultlessly precise in their engagement, allowing us to short-shift through the block to almost get as far as the 53x11 before reaching the foot of a hill that starts our loop.

Setting off the speed-warning sign entering the next village, we hold on to our 25mph speed through a flat, straight drag between stone cottages.

As the road ramps up towards rolling country B-roads, the sheer quickness with which the Bora 50s spin up is exhilarating. There’s nothing like the ‘whump’ of a deep-section rim to make you feel ‘pro’!

The frame announces its stiffness as we stomp uphill, comfortable halfway up the cassette in the 39-tooth chainring. Although a 53/39 chainring is generally seen as the choice of racers, we had no problem maintaining our pace with minimal fatigue, thanks to the wide-ratio cassette at the rear.

The SS26 Aero’s comfort is genuinely surprising. Michelin’s 25c tyres absorb much of the road buzz, the carbon seatpost isolates vibration, and the cockpit set-up features deeply padded bar tops that are very comfortable to rest your hands on when not riding on the hoods.

Which, à la Campag since the year dot, are ergonomically pleasing, rubberised works of art.

Handling

While the SS26 has a more relaxed head angle than you’d think, this lends it stability to temper the short wheelbase of 977mm in our size 52 example.

Whether you’re cornering on the drops, or taking it more steadily riding on the hoods, the Tifosi tracks a line through the tightest turns.

As with any 50mm rim, the Boras do become affected by crosswinds, causing us a couple of moments of concern on more exposed roads.

On balance, though, the benefit we felt from their lightweight full carbon construction is something we’d accept at the cost of occasional windy iffiness.

Campag’s super-effective Chorus callipers slow the bike with real aggression if you’re ham-fingered, and show just how far carbon-on-carbon braking has come.

With a squeal, they’ll haul the SS26 up into downhill corners, allowing you to carry as much speed as possible to the apex, while the confidence we took from the Michelin rubber surpasses anything we’ve experienced in dry conditions in a long time.

This bike is exciting to ride but still provides a surprising level of comfort. If you want to get around your next sportive with the best balance of speed and comfort and have a little extra cash to spend – you don’t need anything more than the SS26 Aero.

Ratings

Frame: Aerodynamic, and yet surprisingly comfortable. 9/10
Components: Superb Campag Chorus is used throughout. 9/10 
Wheels: Deep-rimmed Campag Boras help this bike fly. 9/10 
The Ride: Exhilirating without it ever feeling like it's hard work. 9/10

VERDICT

Want to get around your next sportive with the best balance of speed and comfort? Got a little extra cash to spare? Then the SS26 Aero is for you.

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 535mm 535mm
Seat Tube (ST) 520mm 524mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 605mm
Fork Length (FL) N/A 373mm
Head Tube (HT) 145mm 145mm
Head Angle (HA) N/A 71.3
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 74.1
Wheelbase (WB) 977mm 977mm
BB drop (BB) N/A 67mm

Spec

Tifosi SS26 Aero
Frame Toray carbon fibre frame and fork
Groupset Campagnolo Chorus
Brakes Campagnolo Chorus
Chainset Campagnolo Chorus, 53/39
Cassette Shimano 105, 11-29
Bars Deda Super Zero
Stem Deda Super Zero
Seatpost Tifosi Aero Post
Wheels Campagnolo Bora One 50
Saddle Selle Italia SLR Team Edition
Weight 7.24kg (52cm)
Contact chickencyclekit.co.uk

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