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!