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Tifosi SS26 Disc Campagnolo Potenza review

17 May 2018
Verdict:

A capable sportive machine that won’t sell you short versus better known brands

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2,500
For 
• Excellent value
Against 
• Moderately forgiving frame • Niche Campagnolo groupset

The frame and the ride

The redesigned Tifosi SS26 Disc aims to be an ideal bike for all day riding and endurance sportive events. Part of the reinvigorated brand’s ever-expanding line-up it features dramatic shaping and integration of both the frame and fork, along with 12mm bolt-thru front and rear axles.

Geometry-wise, a medium-high front end, moderate head angle, and matching wheelbase suggest endurance. However, none are taken to extremes.

We’re talking half a degree on the head angle, and a centimetre or two on the stack and wheelbase.

Simultaneously, the frame’s tube profiles, in particular, the chunky chainstays, bottom bracket area, and aero seat stays suggest it’s not inclined to hang about.

Buy the Tifosi SS26 Disc Campagnolo Potenza from Tredz here

The integrated carbon seatpost features a unique head clamp that allows for a larger than average degree of back and forth movement.

Teamed up with a 110mm stem it means the default stretch on the Tifosi is a little longer than average, although this is easily adjusted.

Once comfortably in position, the Tifosi SS26 Disc Campagnolo Potenza proved great fun to ride. The headtube maybe long, but the fork crown is tucked right into it, so the front isn’t too high.

With robust bolt-thru axles at both ends, the frame is also very stiff, both front and back. With surprisingly low weight given its reasonable price tag, it’s happy both on the flat and heading uphill, although the lowest available ratio of 34/29t did sometimes catch us out on the steepest ascents.

Coming back down the restrained geometry kept everything predictable, a facet boosted by the disc brakes and medium width tyres.

Elsewhere across prolonged sections of broken road, the Tifosi behaved itself thanks to good rigidity across the length of the bike, although riders used to the insulated ride of some uber-flexy endurance bikes might find it a little inelastic.

Of the holy trinity of light, stiff, and compliant the Tifosi does best at the first two. Not that its ride is jarring, but I suspect more of its jolt-easing ability comes from its wide tyres and semi-relaxed geometry than is native to the frame.

Still, on a long day, with lots of hills, and plenty of tricky descents the SS26 proved an excellent match. Never feeling as if any element of the course fell outside of its remit, it delivered me to the finish line in a decent time, and without beating me up, or scaring me witless.

Groupset

Available with either Campagnolo Potenza or Shimano Ultegra for £150 less I went with Campagnolo out of curiosity more than anything.

First up compared to Shimano the brakes look fantastic. With svelte levers, flush flat mounts, and diminutive floating rotors they might be enough to win over the last disc brake refuseniks.

The feel of their action is also nice, coming on slowly with lots of modulation. However, in terms of absolute power, they lag behind Shimano or SRAM. This is likely a choice.

Mountain bike brakes would blow the socks off most roadies, so brands are throttling back the power available to road users.

Still, personally, I’d rather have the power, and be trusted to use it without locking up a wheel, than be forced to pull so hard on the levers.

I was a bigger fan of the ergonomic lever shape. Although the fact that you can only shift down one gear at a time might come as a bit of a shock to riders used to dropping their way across the cassette in one go.

Otherwise, the action of the split thumb-actuated downshift and more conventional behind-the-brake-lever upshift feels great.

Pushing through the gears with a pronounced clunk, they’re also likely to be very durable.

Components

Looking to the rolling stock, the mid-depth Miche Race AXY wheels are easy to handle in crosswinds, yet just deep enough to offer the feeling of imparting some free speed.

Able to be run tubeless, the same can’t be said of the tyres which are Michelin Power Endurance models. Supplied in a 25c size they’re nevertheless top-quality treads.

Not overly wide for their stated width, they never gave the impression of running out of grip, while still remaining towards the faster-rolling end of the spectrum.

The Deda Elementi bar and stem are both solid performers from a well know brand. Similarly, the Prologo Kappa Evo will have cost a fair chunk more to spec than some anonymous alternative.

Generally well reviewed, it’s neutral in shape with a flat profile and firm padding.

Conclusion

Unless you’re a confirmed Campagnoloite I’d opt for the cheaper Shimano groupset. I prefer the Shimano brakes, and while I don’t have strong feelings regarding the gearing, the extra cash means I’d go mainstream.

Otherwise, I got on swimmingly with the Tifosi SS26 Disc. Fulfilling its brief as a sportive racer, it’s fast enough to never be boring. And with plenty of space for bigger tyres, could easily turn its hand to any other style of road riding.

Given the moderate price tag, the Tifosi’s frame is particularly impressive. There’s lots going on, with the neatly integrated fork and seatpost, dropped seat stays, and bolt-thru axles.

Then it’s topped off with a solid build kit, consisting of good wheels, good tyres, and branded finishing kit. With its bright and glitzy paint, the whole package looks cool enough to give bigger brands a fright too.

Buy the Tifosi SS26 Disc Campagnolo Potenza from Tredz here

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