While his rivals line up at this weekend's HTC Smithfield Nocturne on the latest carbon fibre road machines, Dan Craven will be aboard a prototype steel frame from sponsors Condor.
Handmade in Italy, it's not just an update of Condor's current lightweight steel road bike, the Acciaio. Instead, this triple-butted frame with aggressive racing geometry boasts up-to-date features including the same tapered (1-1/8 to 1-1/2in) head tube and Deda full-carbon fork found on the team issue carbon Leggero bike.
Condor's production director Neil Manning said: “While other materials like carbon are rapidly becoming the norm, there are plenty of riders who want the characteristics of steel in a full-on road race bike. Our new prototype is an exercise in integrating the new technology used in the race-proven Leggero to other materials. Why shouldn’t steel be used as a race bike material or tested within the ranks of the top pros?”
Namibian-born Craven rode to second at the CiCLE Classic this year after suffering two punctures. He also took victory at the opening round of the Ras in Ireland and solo wins at the Chas Messenger and Shay Elliot road races. On the subject of the new frame, he said: "First impressions have been fantastic ... At 8.3kg it might not be a lightweight, but neither is it heavy, and considering the stiffness and responsiveness, the trade-off should be well worth it.”