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Steel bikes: Condor Acciaio review

3 Oct 2018
Verdict:

A lightweight long-distance luxury that transports you at speed and with a feeling of security

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2,250

The Acciaio (which is pronounced ach-ow, in case you were struggling) is pitched as a bike built for longer rides and even mountainous terrain.

Claimed to be stiff, lightweight and responsive, yet with a higher head tube and longer wheelbase than Condor’s racier bikes, all the ingredients required for hitting the brief are present and correct.

Frameset 

The Acciaio’s frameset is custom-made for the British brand by Italian manufacturer Dedacciai, as an alloy of steel, carbon, magnesium, vanadium and molybdenum, to create a lightweight frame which Condor says weighs in at 1,800g in the frame size we tested.

Buy the Condor Acciaio bike from Condor Cycles

Triple butting is employed in order to add stiffness to key areas while keeping the weight of the material down in less critical places.

It’s worth mentioning here that the TIG welding employed throughout creates some impressively neat junctions. A taller headtube (175mm on our size 55 bike) than Condor’s race models is intended to give a higher degree of comfort over longer rides.

Chainstays of equivalent length to the Cinelli provide a punchy rear triangle to the frame, while raked out carbon forks extend the wheelbase to 1004mm, tempering any twitchiness inherent in the fairly steep steering geometry.

All of the Acciaio’s cabling is carried externally, which does make adjustments and routine maintenance a little easier, but also requires you to keep more of an eye on cable condition if you’re riding in all weathers.

Condor also sells this frameset separately, for £1,099.99, if you want to build a bike to your own spec.

Groupset

Condor has blessed their lightweight steelie with a Campag Potenza groupset. Its logo is found on the compact, 50/34 chainset, shifters, rim brakes and the front and rear derailleurs.

An 11-29 Campag cassette gives this bike a forgivingly easy lowest gear at 34-29, backing up the firm’s claim that you could indeed aim this bike up a hill with little fuss.

Finishing kit

An 110mm Deda Zero 1 alloy stem grips a set of compact drop Zero 1 handlebars. The bars’ 400mm diameter makes them narrower than other bikes we've tested in equivalent-sized frames, but offer a more comfortable ride.

Condor’s own-brand Strada seatpost wears a Fizik Aliante saddle. Its supportive scoop and decent padding make it good for a whole day in the saddle (although we do understand that saddles are very much a personal preference so what suits us might not suit you).

Wheels

We’re huge fans on Campagnolo’s Zonda wheelset – it’s as close as you’ll find to perfect compromise between durability and performance in a set of training wheels.

They’re not exactly featherweight, but they’re easy to live with, their bearings are home-serviceable, and they’ll take tyre sizes up to 28c. The rubber fitted on them here, however, is a pair of Vittoria Corsas in 25mm guise.

Forget for now their classic tan-wall looks, and concentrate on the fact that they feel ridiculously quick when you push on, proved utterly puncture-resistant, and grip well in both wet and dry conditions 

On the road

Deep, lustrous Ferrari-red paint marked by a Condor logo on the downtube and an almost apologetically small ‘Acciaio’ painted on the top tube lend this bike an air of utter class.

This bike engenders a feeling of pride in what you’re riding. Hefting it on to our scales also reveals our 55cm-framed test bike is a very respectable 8.68kg.   

From the off, there is an overwhelming sensation of smoothness to the Condor’s ride, promising a comfortable afternoon in the saddle.

This doesn’t fade – at all – and it's safe to say the Acciaio has nailed the ‘comfort at speed’ remit. Even running seatpost with less exposed material than a taller rider might, there’s barely a hint of vibration from the rear end, and the cockpit is not only an ergonomically brilliant place to rest your hands but also a comfortable reach and height for a long ride.

Condor’s business model is such that you can specify your final spec of groupset and finishing kit, but the Potenza 50/34 chainset fitted to our test bike is right on the money for mix of rolling and downright hilly roads we’re riding.

Stiffness comes to the fore when we go for one local climb in the big ring, as the Acciaio comes to life, making climbing something approaching a pleasure.

Even rolling on pressures in the region of 100psi, the Vittoria Corsa tyres provide a useful blend of ride comfort and willingness to accelerate along rolling backroads, while even poor road surfaces struggle to make a dent in our enjoyment of the ride. Combined with the excellent Campag Zonda wheelset, they bring this bike to life.

The Acciaio’s fairly rangy wheelbase lends it a security in cornering that only adds to the sensation of fuss-free progress at reasonable speed.

You probably won’t find yourself laughing like a maniac as you swing through downhill corners, leaving the brakes alone and relying on available grip and a rapid rate of turn, but you’re guaranteed more than the odd knowing grin as the Condor transports you round corners with an assurance that it has everything in hand.

The whole package feels totally planted, and the grip available from the tyres is a huge bonus. It’s worth reiterating that flat-out racing is not this bike’s raison d’être, however.

It absolutely excels in its aim to provide a comfortable riding experience over many hours of pedalling, and for that reason we’re smitten.

The Condor Acciaio stands out as a bike we’d happily put our hand in our pocket for in the certainty that it would ably tackle whatever we threw at it for many years to come.

Looking for a ride that’s capable of thrilling at times, but better employed as a do-everything tool for sportives, Sunday rides and enjoying the simple beauty of legs-out summer riding? Beat a path to Condor and build your own version of this exceptional machine.

Buy the Condor Acciaio bike from Condor Cycles

RATINGS

Frame: Impressively light and sprightly for a steel frame. 9/10 
Components: Campag Potenza kit is an all-round star. 8/10 
Wheels: Zondas are impressive all-round training wheels. 8/10 
The ride: Assured handling inspires great confidence. 9/10 

Verdict: A lightweight long-distance luxury that transports you at speed and with a feeling of security.  

Geometry

                                     
Top Tube (TT) 552mm
Seat Tube (ST) 550mm
Stack (S) 567mm
Reach (R) 385mm
Chainstays (C) 405mm
Head Angle (HA) 73.5 degrees
Seat Angle (SA) 73.6 degrees
Wheelbase (WB) 1004mm
BB drop (BB) 70mm

Spec

Condor Acciaio
Frame Dedaacciai Zero Replica triple-butted steel frame, Condor Acciaio Slim carbon forks
Groupset Campagnolo Potenza
Brakes Campagnolo Potenza
Chainset Campagnolo Potenza, 50/34
Cassette Campagnolo, 11-29
Bars Deda Zero 1, alloy
Stem Deda Zero 1, alloy
Seatpost Condor Strada, alloy
Wheels Campagnolo Zonda, Vittoria Corsa 700 x 25 tyres
Saddle Fizik Aliante
Weight 8.68kg (55cm)
Contact condorcycles.com

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