Condor Acciaio

As I'm sure many of you know, I recently purchased a new bike. It was a decision iv ummed and ahhed over for quite some time, and I looked at quite a few different bikes. I wanted something a bit unique, I did actually look seriously at a Canyon CF, and whilst is represents amazing value for a super specced off the peg bike, it wasn't actually suited to the main kind of riding I do, which is long days in the saddle.
I decided I would like to try a material other than carbon for my next bike, so many carbon bikes these days have a super aggressive riding position, and to be honest I'm really not overly keen on the looks of certain 'relaxed geometry' carbon bikes. I have had a steel fixed pista for a good few years now which I originally bought for commuting but is n ow relegated to pootling about to the shops. I always loved the feel of the ride on the pista, and used to commute 16 miles a day on it more than happily. So that got me thinking about steel as a material that might yield the right kind of ride quality I was looking for in this next build.
I looked around at various steel frames, and decided I needed to look at a modern tubed frame that wouldnt be akin to riding something made out of cast iro, and would allow me to at least make a build of around 8kg - I must confess iv not been much of a weight weenie before, in fact my carbon bianchi punched in at 8kg exactly, so that was my target weight. I knew maybe psychologically id always expect a steel bike to be heavy and maybe talk myself into feeling it more on climbs, so mny reasoning was to get a bike lighter than the bianchi, then I would have no excuse to ever think i was riding a 'heavy steel bike'.
And so I found the perfect frame to fit my needs...... step forward the Condor Acciaio! A few years ago, I must confess to being very blasé about condor bikes. I found that while they were nice bikes... they were just 'nice' bikes. The decals and paintjobs were a bit on the bland side, and to be honest they didnt have the 'oooooh' factor. But that was a few years ago, and in my very humble opinion, the brand has seriously come on leaps and bounds in that time. I had a good neb at all the bikes in August of 2010 at the Earls Court Cycle Show. Having a good natter with brand manager Claire I became super impressed at the variety of bikes and also the many special editions they were upto (such as the mavic bike and the beautifully crafted Paris frameset). Designer Ben has taken the bikes in a wicked new direction, and as I stood gawping at the amazing 'Steely Dan' prototype frameset made especially for Dan Craven I couldn't help thinking how fresh and exciting they were compared with just a few years earlier. 
Upon seeing pictures of Phipsy's completes Acciaio build (he had his custom finished in Italy at the Condor factory) I began thinking it would be really cool to take this frame as the heart of the bike and build a kind of modern looking ride using modern components, but with this lovely rear lugged steel frame at the centre. So Condor very kindly let me take their showroom bike in 52cm (what are the chances) out for a good long test ride. I hammered it directly to regents park, and upon the first pedal stroke I knew I liked the bike, but by the last pedal stroke i knew i loved this bike! The bike felt so responsive, my bianchi felt sluggish in comparison. Every pedal stroke translated through the bike incredibly well, and the roll across to Regents felt smooth and fast. After a few fast laps around the park I swung off and proceeded to take the bike up Haverstock Hill starting from Chalk Farm. I was initially worried I would be aware of the weight penalty of riding a steel bike up a hill but i was again pleasantly surprised as the bike performed admirably, and in fact I felt noticeably more comfortable climbing in the saddle when opposed to my carbon bike.
Upon heading back to the store, I spoke with Sammy about colours and decided that I actually loved the stock option he showed me, and thought it was a nice nod to the celeste colour that graced my beloved bike brand for many a year.
I then had a fitting on Condors fitting jig, with poor old sammy having to adjust between a 52 & 49cm bike constantly as I fettled over which size to plump for. I went for the 52 in the end, as there was minimal difference in top tube but I was able to get a slightly higher headtube with this size, again perfect for comfort over long distances.
I then gathered up different components for the build and dropped them off with Condor who did an amazing job with the final build. I tried to choose componentry that was fairly lightweight but also within my budget. The final weight currently is 7.8kg, but with a few upgrades over the summer the weight should be down to about 7.5kg.
Planet X ultra-light CNC brakes grace the front and rear. So far they have performed quite well, and were super cheap for a feathery 200g.
Deda finishing kit was selected to keep the weight down and to match those all important cuffs & collars. Rather than match the ultegra gunmetal to the similar coloured deda kit I chose to go with the black for a bit more subtle look.
Iv been a diehard Fizik aliante rider for quite some time now, its the perfect saddle for me, offering a comfy hammock style effect, but I thought it was time to give the antares a try. The saddle is actually pretty comfy, certainly a marked improvement on the arione, which as a girl iv got to say i hated! So yeah, got a good deal on an antares, saved a handful of grams so all good. I had the bars doiuble wrapped for comfort, which feels nice in small hands have to say.
FSA compact bars sit up front, and at some point will be upgraded to a lighter model, but I cant seem to get as comfy in any other shape than these...
Cute little lugs sit at the rear of the frame, and look very smart indeed.
The finishing touches on the frame are very nice, I parictularly love the simple decals and the colour.
I upgraded the fork to Condors more relaxed wave fork, great for climbing and long kilometeres. I found this combined with the steel frame has made it a very comfortable ride indeed. Im still tweaking a few things like position, but overall I'm super happy with the results, and my poor old bianchi b4p is sitting in the corner just not getting a look in as a weekend bike anymore.

Many thanks to all at Condor and especially Claire for the super slick bike build and for putting up with my fettling!

20 comments:

chr15 said...

Ok. So now I am totally jealous. I have just ordered a new bike and having thought exactly the same as you about Condor didn't investigate further.

I love the styling of the frame and like you the idea of a modern/traditional/classic type of approach. I hope let us know how it performs.

BTW I am a huge fan of the Antares too.

Andy Waterman said...

Skinwall = thumbs up

That colour is perfect. Even better in the flesh imo.

Jeff said...

That's a sweet looking ride. Love the colors. I have an Antares saddle as well that I really like. Never tried the Arione.

Stefan R. said...

very nice paint. but that frame need a nice "thin" and simple campa crankset, or maybe shimano 7700, this crank set looks like big monster on small frames.

Cykelhimlen said...

Nice to see that you stepped one step further back than just chosing a frame made from aluminium. The colours and the the composition of the bike looks great! And I really like those Vittoria tires...

By the way, I hope you do know that your handlebar will explode because of the other brand than the rest of your cockpit ;)

/ Mats (from Sweden)

Anonymous said...

Great, great bike Gem. Love the colour and stiletto fork. The black Fizik logo tape is also THE tape right now! When we riding then? Matt B (5)

Simon said...

Nice ride. What are the rims and tyres?

Chris said...

Grats! Looks lovely and I'm sure it rides lovely.

Anonymous said...

I was looking at a Canyon CF too but ended up with a custom Mercian 953.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-zmSulptMY0E/TbUje_1w3LI/AAAAAAAAA4g/l_MB-bwSrTE/s1600/7041711_3.jpg

Great choice.

Anonymous said...

What a terrific bike and good to read that you have found the love with steel.

As you have experienced, weight has nothing to do with ride quality. It's all about geometry and fit. Getting the right frame builder is essential. Pro steel machines were not always light but always, always rode well due to their good geometry. A top end 10kg steel machine will fly up the hills just as easily as a 6kg carbon. It's all in the mind. Not only that, but steel machines roll far better on the flat.

Tim

Bianchista said...

some great comments here - glad the bike has been so well received!
It was a bit of a project as I used some compensation money that just came through after having all my teeth smashed out my a driver around 4 years ago, so I guess this is a bit of a labour of love and teeth :)

The ride of steel and the fit is so great, it made me realise just how bad I actually fit on my old bike. The rise in comfort is something I couldnt really put a price on so needless to say im pleased as punch.

Condor were fantastic, and really made me feel like a vip, always having time to yarn to me about it and the extensive (and painful for poor sammy) fit process where I agonised over the smallest things!

I love the bike and its a kind of fun twist on an old school steel frame, Im really happy with the way it turned out. Stefan you definitely have a point the crank isn't as refined as it could be, but its fairly light and whilst something a bit skinnier might look nice (the carbon record crank would look great if I could find something similar compatible) Its a case of I will make do for now (I drained my little bike fund for now, perhaps nearer winter I could save for a rotor crank or something.

Id seriously recommend anyone in the market for a new bike to pop down to condor and see what they have, Im already eyeing up the next one for 2012 (thinking single speed commuter or cross bike)

Stefan R. said...

Gem, then go for the campa record or chorus group, more classic look when it come to crank set.

Anonymous said...

Great build, and good to see more people going back to steel. I'm hoping they release that prototype that Dan Craven has been riding soon!

Bianchista said...

anon - my spies at condor tells me they have something very special in the pipeline built in steel... watch this space, hopefully il secret squirrel some snaps off them in the future

Michael said...

That would be great. I dropped em an email and whilst they did say the frame would be released, they didn't give anything else away.

Ta Michael

Anonymous said...

I have just bought a 2010 acciaio , i fitted it out with sram rival . The wheels are a little heavy but are super strong for the bumpy roads here in devon.....hope pro 3's with 32 hole mavic open pro's...all silver with stainless spokes , the saddle i really love and is good to ride even in unpadded shorts ....selle concor lite...brilliant , vittoria tyres , frame is a beautiful creme. overall it is one pound lighter than the carbon mess i had ,a willier mortirollo .the ride is beautiful , much much better and responsive than a carbon frame , the sram is way ahead of the campy , ive tried em all and will always use sram,......shortly when i retire i may get it resrayed by condor and maybe get them to fit a chrome steel fork and upgrade to sram red and some top end wheels...the frame is the heart of a bike and its light and beautiful thank you thank you thank you condor , the force is obviously with you ,

Anonymous said...

Good stuff - I'm seriously considering a steel frame too - this post has me thinking...

Cheers

Bianchista said...

anon - go have a test ride and speak with them. It was the test ride that hooked me, it rides so well.... the more miles im putting in on mine the more i love it!

Anonymous said...

I too am considering the Acciaio, lovely bike - and I would also like to get the build to around 8kg. Was hoping to do this with a reasonable quality groupset - but would definitely be interested to know what components you used and what weight you think you saved over a standard group set? Also what wheels?

Anonymous said...

and I also am looking at the acciaio, I think they are going to do a black version..
So with sram rival gropo and some magic wheels I think I have a great bike.

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