For more than 60 years, London based Condor has built its reputation on a strong Italian connection. With a light blue Bianchi Celeste-like paint scheme, the classically proportioned Acciaio wears its ‘Made in Italy’ badge with pride.
The frame is beautifully built, an impeccably TIG-welded triangular section Dedacciai steel tubeset with beefy fastback seatstays. They keep the rear end surprisingly harsh, although the ride quality is tempered by slightly bigger profile than normal rubber in the form of 24mm Continental Grand Prix tyres.
The Condor’s relaxed handling means good high speed stability when you’re screaming down country lanes, but it’s a little confrontational when you’re wrestling it around trying to get to the front of a large unruly peloton; it doesn’t immediately grab you by the jugular, and left us wondering where the ‘zing’ was.
Though a bit harsh for a steel frame, the Condor is a bike you could probably learn to love, especially if you’re a bigger rider with a more powerful pedalling style. Just let it take over the handling responsibilities of keeping it pointed straight while you thrash around in the saddle.
Available to buy as a frameset or built up to your own spec, our test bike came with a zero-offset seatpost and a 10cm stem. We increased the cockpit length for a racier position by changing to an 11cm stem and a layback seatpost. The Dedacciai seat-tube allows for a 27.2mm seatpost, which is always a good thing when wanting to dial in a bit of extra comfort, and there’s a wide choice of posts available.
The SRAM Rival components are quite excellent, with good chunky shifts, while a compact drivetrain with a 34x27 low gear provides plenty of climbing grunt for wannabe mountain goats. The Deda bar is superb, and the Double Tap controls have what are probably the most comfortable hoods around, with no sharp pressure points on the hands. Mavic provides the wheels in the form of Aksium Race – a rung or two on the ladder below Ksyriums; they’re a bit more basic when it comes to tech and execution, but hardly the worse for it.
There’s lots of mythologising taking place with steel as a material at the moment, and a tendency to let nostalgia influence opinion; the urge to re-visit the past through rose-tinted lenses is a powerful one. Without allowing it to cloud our judgement, it’s important to remember that regardless of frame material, the expected magic doesn’t always materialise. For the Condor Acciaio, we really wanted it to, but we’re still waiting.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.