Tifosi Scalare Ultegra review£1,550.00

A shining frame in a slightly muddled build

BikeRadar score3.5/5

Named after the freshwater Angel fish (no, we can’t see the connection either) Tifosi’s Scalare has a compact carbon frame that looks small at first glance. Under testing though, we found it was surprisingly spacious and gave us an almost perfect position.

The 145mm head tube offers the chance to get racy. Yet the complete package doesn’t quite conform to the race weapon stereotype.

    It may have less frame tubing length, but what's there is on the large size. The head tube area is huge, there’s a giant down tube, a PressFit 30 bottom bracket, deep chainstays and bridgeless seatstays.

    All cabling is internally routed via some very neat ports in the head tube area, exiting around the bottom bracket, or above the rear dropout. Altogether it gives the frame a clean, businesslike look.

    A classy cockpit from deda:
    A classy cockpit from deda:

    A classy cockpit from Deda

    Those bridgeless seatstays are also brakeless, with the rear stopper being mounted beneath the chainstays. It’s hard to say whether this is done for heel clearance for the tight rear triangle, aesthetics, or to reduce rigidity in that area, but it succeeds in being reliably unobtrusive.

    A seat clamp with twin 3mm bolts holds the 31.8mm Deda RSx02 alloy post and its Selle Italia X1 saddle, which crowns an unusual Italian and Japanese component mix.

    Shimano Ultegra shifters and derailleurs deal with the chain swapping. The crankset though is a pretty Italian Miche Primato, with cutout spider arms and Miche chainrings in a very traditional 52/39 combination. At the back is a Miche 11-27 cassette turning Miche Primato Race 707 wheels, shod with Vittoria Rubino 23mm rubber.

    Braking is dealt with by the Italians up front, with a Miche caliper, and Shimano’s 105 direct mount brake bolted beneath the stays at the rear. A classy Deda Zero1 stem and RHM01 bar complete an eclectic spec, but one with a lot of promise.

    Immediately, the Scalare shows why the brake was dropped below the stays, as the rear end feels supple everywhere and active in the bends, doing a great job of ironing out road vibrations. Rolling along on the flat, the frame feels responsive and nimble (no mean feat for a relatively heavy bike) and maintains a good lick without too much effort.

    As the road rises, progress slows, almost imperceptably at first, but then the legs start to complain, and gears need to be shifted. We don’t have the data to get scientific here, but the forged Miche cranks appear to lack the ultimate stiffness of Ultegra or SRAM Force items. This becomes more apparent when you're heaving out of the saddle, but it's still less intrusive than the wheelset, which is the main culprit.

    Unfortunately, once you get into hilly territory the scalare's sluggish rolling stock proves to be a real drag:
    Unfortunately, once you get into hilly territory the scalare's sluggish rolling stock proves to be a real drag:

    Unfortunately, once you get into hilly territory the Scalare's sluggish rolling stock proves to be a real drag

    As a comparison, we weighed the Tifosi's wheels next to those of the Cube Agree GTC race we tested it alongside, complete with tyres and cassette. We found the Miche set to be 450g heavier than the Mavic Aksiums on the Cube, which include a giant 11-32t cassette.

    At 28 hole rear, and 20 hole front, the Miche hoops are packing a few more spokes, but it’s more than that. They just feel sluggish, to the point that we stopped to check the brakes weren’t rubbing. This is a shame, as the bearings are free running and smooth.

    The Vittoria tyres don’t escape criticism either. The compound seems soft and fast wearing, lacking cornering confidence, seemingly squirming and occasionally pushing us wide at speed.

    Importers Chicken Cycles offer this frameset in a few build options, so alternatives are available – and the excellent frame deserves better.

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

    Robin Wilmott

    Tech Writer, Tech Hub, UK,
    Robin began road cycling in 1988, and with mountain bikes in their infancy, mixed experimental off-road adventures with club time trials and road races. Cyclocross soon became a winter staple, and has remained his favourite form of competition. Robin has always loved the technical aspect of building and maintaining bikes, and several years working in a good bike shop only amplified that. Ten years as a Forensic Photographer followed, honing his eye for detail in pictures and words. He has shot at the biggest pro events since the '90s, and now he's here, drawing on all those experiences to figure out what makes a bike or component tick.
    • Age: 45
    • Height: 178cm / 5'10"
    • Weight: 75kg / 165lb
    • Discipline: Road, cyclocross, time trials
    • Beer of Choice: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

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