The company might be named after the passionate Italian cycling fans, but Tifosi is a well-established, UK-based brand. The Italian connection is continued right through the componentry of this distinctive machine, making it one of the few sub-£1,000 road bikes available with Campagnolo gears.
- Pros: Sharp-riding frame with Italian component flair and Continental handling
- Lows: Heavy wheels and wooden-feeling tyres restrict responsiveness and dull the ride
- Buy if: You want a real taste of Italian race bike character and don’t mind upgrading the wheels
Campagnolo equipment still has a well-deserved reputation for shrugging off mileage better than other transmission gear. The Ergopower levers on the Tifosi also got masses of praise from our testers for their intuitive and positive-feeling swing lever upshift and push button downshift actuation. The Miche chainset turns the chain with reasonable purpose too, and the Tifosi felt like it was losing less power than some of its price rivals when we turned up the heat for village sign sprints or got out of the saddle on steeper hills.
The double-butted, narrow tubed Columbus frame helps towards a reasonably low 9.34kg overall weight. Unfortunately, the quite weighty Miche wheels and 300g Vittoria tyres mean the powerful, punchy potential of the frame only gets as far as the hubs before taking a big hit in terms of on-road responsiveness. The wheels also underline the already notably firm ride of the CK3 with a distinctly unforgiving feel that proved jarring on rougher roads. Swapping wheels immediately gave it the pep it deserves, but that’s a fair amount of investment to make the most of the bike.
The super-narrow handlebar also gives a very distinctive handling feel. It’s very stable, with steady nerves coming into their own on twisting descents, as long as you’re swinging through corners rather than steering aggressively. You can get the limited leverage cockpit and narrow frame tubes to really flutter and flex if you chuck it about, though, and while it always came back into line (if we left it), that can be a bit hair-raising if you’re running out of road between you and a dry stone wall.
The moulded rubber – rather than cartridge – brake pads leave the Miche brakes decidedly underwhelming in terms of stopping power too, particularly when you’re trying to manage high speeds. There are generic bikes where these noticeably component-based issues would be enough to push them off the shopping list entirely, but the Tifosi has definitely got enough spirit and sprint speed to make it a potentially rewarding machine with a genuinely Italian feel if you’re not averse to upgrading over time.