Of all the bikes in the test, this is least like its stereotype. It confounds all expectations by being the smoothest-riding of the four. It’s not 100 per cent aluminium because it has the carbon fork and wishbone to take the sting out of the bumps, but it’s still a shock — or there’s a distinct lack of shocks — that it feels so plush. It isn’t super-stiff compared with modern race bikes, but it has bags of liveliness and feels fast and exciting. This is the lightest on test, and the snappy-shifting Athena enhances that sensation — a very good bike.
Lightest on test
Plush ride quality
Welding isn't pretty
Condor boss Grant Young told CA that in the Nineties, when aluminium frames began to arrive from the Far East, he didn’t think road cyclists would accept the blobby welds.
Yet they did, and steel began to fall out of favour. Condor had to adopt the new material or go under. Young found a factory in Italy and the same factory hand-builds the Italia RC today.
Made from Columbus Airplane 7005 tubing with an oversize, profiled-down tube and top tube, topped and tailed with a full carbon fork and carbon rear wishbone — something not often seen these days. Its geometry is racy, though not aggressive, especially if you’re in between sizes and go for the bigger one. Our size 58 has a head tube that’s 19.5cm tall (including the internal headset housings), hardly a back-breaker.
Athena is a cut above all the other groupsets here; classified as Campagnolo’s entry-level 11-speed groupset. This shows the increased buying power an aluminium frame can lend you. The Italia RC with Campag Centaur — the top 10-speed groupset — would have come in at £1,450.
The good-quality finishing kit continues the Italian theme: Deda bar and stem and Fizik Aliante saddle on Condor’s own carbon seatpost. The all-black groupset and components against the white and black panels of the frame give a striking, monochrome look.
Campagnolo’s Vento wheels have been redesigned for 2014 with an asymmetric rim that offsets the spokes towards the non-drive side. This slightly evens out the effect on spoke tension of the considerable ‘dish’ of modern rear wheels, and ought to make the rear Vento more responsive. It picks up well and feels lighter than you’d expect from its 1,640g.
Conti Gatorskin 23mm tyres are a good choice, though there may not be enough clearance at the rear for fatter, 25c tyres.
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