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Condor Italia RC review

14 Oct 2015
Verdict:

The Condor Italia RC is a traditional racer with modern sensibilities.

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£1,450
For 
Very little effort required at speed
Against 
Plenty of carbon frames at this price

Condor Cycles first opened its doors on London’s Gray’s Inn Road in 1948. The shop has moved since, but there’s still only one shop and it’s still on Gray’s Inn Road, a little west of the City and just east of the bustling retail hub of Oxford Street. It’s a prime location, and the shop benefits from both passing trade and being a true destination store for out-of-towners. Condor has always built its own bikes, with the current range being designed in Britain and hand-built in Italy. Does the Italia live up to Condor’s heritage?

The frame

Condor Italia RC frame

Condor makes two framesets that bear the Italia moniker: the basic Italia, which has mudguard clearance and is intended as an audax/everyday bike; and Italia RC, which has tighter clearances, is lighter and is aimed at amateur racers. We were big fans of the previous Condors we've tested, so we had high hopes for the Italia RC. The frame is made from Columbus Airplane tubing, which is welded in Italy in the small workshops used by Condor. Instead of aluminium seatstays, the RC uses a carbon wishbone assembly that should help remove some road buzz – it also looks cool, which helps. Gear cables run externally, which is something of a Condor signature; it’s not fashionable, but you’ll be thankful when it comes to replacing them.

The Condor feels remarkably familiar – efficient when stomping on the pedals but still comfortable when cruising over rougher roads, just like the best carbon bikes.

The frame is traditional elsewhere too, with a normal BSA bottom bracket and a non-tapered 1.125in head tube. The fork is Condor’s RC carbon model, which uses a full carbon steerer tube to save weight. Geometry-wise, the Italia RC strikes a sensible balance between comfort, confidence and all-out raciness. The head tube on our size 55 bike is short enough to allow for an aggressive position and tall enough to be comfortable too. Talking of comfort, the skinny 27.2mm seatpost facilitates a lot of flex beneath the seat, boosting compliance at the back end.

Components

Condor Italia RC Veloce

It’s always a pleasure to ride a bike that’s equipped with Campagnolo components – it’s like getting into a classic sports car after driving around in a modern hire car. There’s a tautness and romance to it that the Asian brands can’t compete with. The Veloce groupset here is the most basic 10-speed iteration. The beauty of Condor is that you can spec your bike online using the Bike Builder app, so you could choose the 11-speed 105 if you preferred. For us, though, the Veloce group performed flawlessly, the brakes a particular highlight, and the shift is highly intuitive. Our bike came with racing gears – a 53/39 chainset and 11-25 cassette – which felt really good, though we’d spec a wider spread for hillier routes. The Deda bar and stem were another highlight, the bars our favourite shape for a while.

Wheels

Condor Italia RC wheels

Although you get to choose the spec of your bike, if you don’t want to make decisions, don’t worry; Condor will choose something worth having rather than the cheap option. A case in point is the Italia’s 25mm Continental Grand Prix tyres. They roll well and seem to keep punctures at bay, and the chubby carcass copes brilliantly on uneven roads. Riding a stretch of nasty cobbles near the Cyclist office, it was amazing how little effort was required to keep the Italia at speed compared with the others' narrow tyres. The 35mm-deep Campagnolo Scirocco wheels are great as well – not too heavy but still aerodynamic, with a reassuring aluminium braking surface. They’re an excellent choice for pretty much any occasion and great value at this price.

The ride

Condor Italia RC review

One thing we always comment on when we get a bike from Condor is the attention to detail that goes into the build. The levers are always perfectly positioned on the bars, the bars come set at a proper angle and the bar tape is finished with a thin strip of electrical tape. What you’re getting is a bike you can ride straight from the shop, no tweaking necessary. We like that. What’s more, Condor will fit you on your new bike in-store free of charge. If you’re new to the sport, this is a useful service; getting it right first time will save you time, money and discomfort down the line. The Condor feels remarkably familiar – efficient when stomping on the pedals but still comfortable when cruising over rougher roads, just like the best carbon bikes. Maybe those carbon seatstays really work.

The Italia is light, too: at 8.26kg, it’s mid-pack, despite the 35mm deep aero wheels and inexpensive groupset. The geometry puts the rider in a powerful position – we’d happily ride the Italia RC in sportives or audaxes and even local road races. It corners nicely – no doubt assisted by those wide Continentals – but the low BB and mid-length wheelbase encourages you to drop your shoulder into tight corners and see how far you can lean. It’s a superbly built bike that rides better than the sum of its parts – a great example of what can be achieved when an old-fashioned brand offering old-fashioned service gets on board with modern online ordering and international manufacturing.

Geometry

Geometry chart
Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 555mm 553mm
Seat Tube (ST) 550mm 550mm
Down Tube (DT) 598mm
Fork Length (FL) 372mm
Head Tube (HT) 165mm 165mm
Head Angle (HA) 73.5 72.1
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 73
Wheelbase (WB) 985mm
BB drop (BB) 70mm 72mm

Spec

Condor Italia RC
Frame Columbus Airplane 7005 aluminium w/ carbon seatstays, carbon fork
Groupset Campagnolo Veloce, 10-speed
Brakes Campagnolo Veloce dual pivot
Chainset Campagnolo Veloce, 53/39
Cassette Campagnolo, 11-25
Bars Deda RHM
Stem Deda Zero1
Seatpost Condor Carbon
Wheels Campagnolo Scirocco 35
Tyres Continenal Grand Prix, 25c
Saddle Fizik Ardea
Contact condorcycles.com

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