Condor Super Acciaio review£3,410.00

Stylish steeler with fire in its belly

BikeRadar score4/5

Condor’s shop on Gray’s Inn Road, London, has been a cultural hub for everyone from cycle couriers to Continental pro riders since 1948 and has been producing stylish machines for just as long.

The Super Acciaio blends that timeless style and experience with the fruits of its long relationship with Italian tube master Columbus to produce a sporting steeler.

    Frame and equipment: deliciously detailed UCI-approved chassis

    If you didn’t know about the rich racing history of Condor – most recently in cahoots with Rapha and JLT – there are some clear clues in the Super A frameset. It’s gone through the lengthy and expensive process needed for UCI approval and the international racing clearance that provides.

    A tapered head tube keeps a firm (for steel) hold on the light Columbus Grammy Slim fork, it uses an oversize BB30 bottom bracket that is almost unheard of in steel bikes and stout, kinked chainstays end in oversized cowled dropouts. You’ll feel a different cross-section wherever you grab the triple-butted tubes too, with everything from round to oval to octagonal to rectangular and every permutation in between used for maximum power transfer and precision.

    The oversized pf30 bottom bracket is a rare sight on steel steeds:
    The oversized pf30 bottom bracket is a rare sight on steel steeds:

    The oversized PF30 bottom bracket is a rare sight on steel steeds

    The seatstays are flattened to flex subtly below the Condor-embossed brake bridge and there’s delicious detailing, from the contrast paint inside the double-sided reinforced dropouts to neatly shaped cable guides and multiple 3D versions of the Condor logo on various tubes.

    In the UK, a full bike fit at Condor HQ (or nine other regional Condor stockists) is included in the frame or complete, multi-option bike builder price and if none of the six broadly spaced 46-61cm sizes feel right custom geometry (and paint options) are available – with an eight-week wait. The bike builder also allows your personal choice of parts but you’d not go far wrong with Condor’s own pick of mid-range Campagnolo groupset and top end wheels here.

    Ride and handling: sparky steel steed

    While artistry and custom spec potential help justify a serious bike purchase, it’s how a frame feels on the road that really lights your fire. We're pleased to report that the Super A is is pretty damn flammable in that respect.

    The stiff, short chainstay frame stokes the lightweight Campagnolo Shamal wheels up to a scorching pace with minimal effort for a steel bike. The 8kg weight means it’ll ignite with equal enthusiasm on any steepness of incline or village sign sprint and it’s a standout bike for riders who love to look over their shoulders and prod the pace of a group ride.

    The super acciaio is an eager climber:
    The super acciaio is an eager climber:

    The Super Acciaio is an eager climber

    Even with the wheels swapped it’s still got a noticeable edge over the Enigma's otherwise similarly sporting steeler, the Elite HSS ST when you’re twisting the bar tape off at max torque. The steep steering makes it a quick-witted companion, and it’s as eager on twisting roads as it is on climbs.

    Perhaps inevitably, enhanced power transfer and precision comes at the expense of subtle shock damping and there’s a fair amount of clatter and chatter from either end of the Condor. Bear in mind too that tight clearances make even 25mm rubber a close fit.

    A relatively tall head tube takes pressure off your hands though, and with the extra filter of a skinny Fizik carbon seatpost under the Aliante saddle there’s enough spring to float a big gear over staccato road sections and keep the steel spark alive.

    This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

    Guy Kesteven

    Freelance Writer, UK
    Guy started filling his brain with cycle stats and steaming up bike shop windows back in 1980. He worked the other side of those windows from '89 while getting a degree in “describing broken things covered in mud" (archaeology). Dug historical holes in the ground through the early '90s, then became a pro bike tester in '97. Guy has ridden thousands of bikes and even more components the world over since then and can remember them all in vivid, haunting detail. Can't remember where the car keys are, though.
    • Age: 45
    • Height: 180cm / 5' 11"
    • Weight: 68kg / 150lb
    • Waist: 76cm / 30in
    • Chest: 91cm / 36in
    • Discipline: Strict sadomasochist
    • Preferred Terrain: Technical off-piste singletrack and twisted back roads. Up, down, along — so long as it's faster than the last time he did it he's happy.
    • Current Bikes: An ever changing herd of test machines from Tri bikes to fat bikes and everything in between.
    • Dream Bike: His Nicolai Helius AM custom tandem
    • Beer of Choice: Theakston's Old Peculier (not Peculiar)
    • Location: Yorkshire, UK

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