Condor celebrates its 70th birthday this year: what better way to pay homage to the London brand than by testing a steel Condor Super Acciaio frameset?
In 2018 London bike brand Condor celebrates its 70th birthday. We decided it would be fitting to test the Condor Super Acciaio – a race bike constructed from classic steel but with a thoroughly modern performance that’s hand made in Italy.
Condor says the Super Acciaio frameset has been developed for the racer and that if you’re looking a steel, race-ready machine you should choose this over the Condor Acciaio, which uses different tubing, fork and is slightly higher and longer than the Super Acciaio we have here.
Condor Super Acciaio Frame
The frame is made from custom triple-butted tubing from Columbus, weighing around 1,800g in a size 55cm, painted. This isn’t exactly a race-ready weight by carbon-fibre standards but in terms of riding performance the Super Acciaio does very well and feels nimble and edgy, quite unlike typical steel framesets.
To help it achieve this it has a tapered head tube that is wider at the base to increase lateral rigidity and front end stiffness, aiding corning precision and that nimble feel.
A modern BB30 bottom bracket has been fitted along with a full carbon fork (weighing around 300g). The tubing is shaped with flat surfaces – the top tube has a decagon profile – all adding up to create not only stiffness without increasing weight but helping the frame dance a little more through the corners and feel a little livelier than its weight might suggest.
Our Condor Super Acciaio frameset has been dressed in the lovely Campagnolo Potenza groupset, which I have totally fallen for. The ergonomics of the hoods and the mechanical feel of the levers give the frame extra kudos. However, the loss of the function where you can ‘dump’ multiple sprockets, so loved on Campag mechanical in the past, is a shame.
Condor’s own seatpost, Selle Italia saddle and Deda Zero bar and stem all are inoffensive components that complement the frameset and the ride.
The wheels are from Campagnolo and are the Ventos, which do nothing particularly exciting other than continuing the Italian theme. You could easily find some lighter and zippier wheels to help the ride improve. The Continental Grand Prix GT tyres are robust and grippy though this frame will not allow for anything wider than 25c tyres, which could be limiting in the future.
As I’ve already indicated, the ride of the Condor Super Acciaio is surprisingly impressive. Instead of being met with sluggish, dull riding that can be typical of frames of this weight and material, I enjoyed zippy rides where I felt like I wanted to push on.
I found Condor’s claim of “race ready, performance steel” to be fairly on point. It danced nicely out of the saddle, mostly thanks to that modern BB30 bottom bracket keeping flex in this area to a minimum. The decagon top tube along with the tapered head tube and Columbus Grammy full carbon fork gave a nice, lively feeling when up to speed and allowed for some exciting cornering to be done with a decent amount of feedback in the bends.
That fork has been ‘performance tuned’ by Condor which only adds to its racy credentials and helps it nail the corners.
Sadly for me weight is an issue: at 8.61kg complete, at times it felt like hard work lugging it around around the Kent lanes – remember this frame is a size 52 and a fairly small frame. It was at those moments when I felt I could swap ride quality, feel and the pride in a hand-made Italian frame for a few kilos off to help me up the climbs.
However, spending a little more on a flashier set of wheels could help the Super Acciaio climb faster: if any of my races took me up any sort of climbs I would feel disadvantaged.
Steel tends to be a little more comfortable than your aluminium or carbon frame and this is true with the Condor Super Acciaio. Road buzz is minimal and riding for longer spells really isn’t an issue for the shoulders, hands, back or bum. The fear here is a dead ride and that isn’t what you get here. You really do feel racy with this bike.
The price of the frameset is currently discounted by £200 – down from £1,499.99 – so be quick if you are keen to buy one. For that price you’ll be getting a hand-made Italian frame that’ll be good for all your road riding needs. Steel will stand the test of time, gain admiring glances and, if the horrible happens, can be repaired fairly easily.
I wouldn’t say that the Super Acciaio was for the pure racer as you’ll certainly be able to get similar handling bikes at a lighter weight, but if you’re a rider looking for a racier steel bike with a a bit of edge this is a great choice.
The Condor Super Acciaio steel bike is a great buy for those wanting classic looking and feeling road bike. The British brand calls it "race ready, performance steel" and ride-wise it feels just that but, as expected, it weighs a little more than your aluminium or carbon frame.