Tifosi's CK3 Giro Claris is being marketed as a first race bike, or a sporty bike for riding purely for pleasure. It's been completely overhauled for 2016.
Affordable alloy artistry
The British-designed Tifosi's revision makes full use of aluminium's ability to be manipulated even at this modest price. And while our test model featured Shimano's Claris, the CK3 is also available in Sora, 105 and Campagnolo Veloce builds.
Traditional tubing has been ditched in favour of a huge D-shaped down tube, and the head tube has been revamped to a tapered design for greater stiffness and better handling. The top tube is large and ovalised where it meets the head tube, flattening and slimming dramatically before joining the seat tube.
Not long ago, carbon forks were a rare sight on bikes at this price
The oversized chainstays are designed to provide a direct feel through the pedals, though their profile did mean an occasional heel-clip when pedalling hard and leaning into a corner.
The short chainstays and long front end result in a low, aggressive riding position, and with its sub-1m wheelbase it's a nimble and agile bike, especially when descending, where it reacts positively to direction changes.
It may take a while to ascend, and we crested our biggest climb nearly three minutes slower than our PB. But on the descent the CK3 was within three seconds of our fastest time, topping out at 46.5mph – which also goes to show our confidence in its handling.
Firm but fair
The ride is on the firm side. It's not harsh, and no vibrations get through to your hands, but if you're used to comfortable cruisers you may find the CK3 a bit of a brute.
Some of that is down to the wheels. The Weinmann/One combination isn't heavy, but the rims are narrow and the weighty Schwalbe rubber feels slender despite being nominally 25mm wide. The KGuard puncture protection is great for trouble-free commuting but numbs road feel, dulls acceleration and makes it hard to judge grip.
The Shimano Claris drivetrain looks classier than its price suggests, the 50/34 crankset and eight-speed 12-28 cassette offer a decent range of gears, and shifting was accurate.
The compact crankset pairs well with the 12/28 cassette
Braking is a bit of a mixed bag. Tektro's dual-pivot brakes have a decent action and their one-piece non-cartridge pads are better then the hard waxy affairs you often find on budget bikes. The sticky compound bites well, but when you apply a bit more pressure they do have a tendency to grab, though you adjust fairly quickly to their quirks.
Credit to Tifosi, though, for the often-overlooked contact points. Its One SL compact bar has a shape that encourages movement between the hoods and the drops, and the cotton-like tape offers excellent comfort. The Selle Royal Seta saddle is long, like Fizik's Arione, but more plushly padded and the shape allows you to move around in the saddle.
Tifosi's CK3 has obviously been put together by riders, and it shows in its character. We'd have preferred a better crankset, for increased responsiveness, and rims with a more modern profile, but we'd happily use this for winter training – with clip-on guards – or daily commuting throughout the year.