Tifosi Scalare Ultegra review
Imported model with Continental connections. Tom Isitt tested the Tifosi Scalare Ultegra
A feather-light frame with great detailing and an Ultegra groupset, this is an excellent sportive bike
Sounding for all the world like an Italian brand (the Italian word ‘tifosi’ means an ardent supporter of bike racing), Tifosi was actually established a little over a decade ago by Chicken CycleKit, the UK importer of assorted cycling brands including Selle Italia, Campagnolo, Deda and Cinelli.
Made in the Far East to Chicken CycleKit’s specifications, the Tifosi Scalare Ultegra features fairly race-orientated geometry and is complemented with finishing kit from Chicken CycleKit’s stable of imported products. Though not aimed specifically at the sportive market, it makes a few concessions to comfort.
Featuring internal cabling and a luscious matt black and red colour scheme, the Tifosi’s frame is pretty compact, even by today’s standards.
With a stack height of 540mm and a reach of 395mm (on size Medium version, roughly 54cm), the stack-to-reach ratio comes out at 1.38, which is pretty aggressive and stretched out.OK, it’s not TT bike territory, but less flexible riders might struggle.
A 160mm head tube keeps the front end low, and at the back the seatstays are flattened to allow a certain amount of flex to aid comfort.
Among bikes that cost £1,550, it’s unusual to find Shimano Ultegra. Admittedly, costs have been cut by speccing Miche Primato brakes and cranks. Braking may not be quite on a par with Ultegra stoppers, but the Miche do a very decent job both in terms of power and feel. Unusually at this level, the rear brake calipers are mounted beneath the chainstays, near the bottom bracket shell.
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You would expect Chicken CycleKit, as the UK importer of Cinelli, to spec finishing kit from this venerable Italian brand, and that’s what you get — Cinelli DNA bars, stem and seatpost.
Because Chicken is also the importer of Deda and Selle Italia, you also get Deda bar tape and headset, and a Selle Italia X1 saddle. It’s all good-quality equipment and creates a European feel and look.
Miche is the wheel of choice, again for obvious reasons. The Scalare uses Miche Race 707s, with a 20-spoke radial at the front and a two-cross 28 at the back (with bladed spokes). They ride well enough, and are probably quite robust, but they are almost 2kg without tape or skewers.
The cheap-as-chips 25mm Vittoria Zaffiro tyres add another 700g (plus inner tubes) and are fairly horrible (only 26tpi). As a result, the wheels and tyres somewhat blunt the Scalare’s edge. As a pair of winter training wheels, they’re fine, but a sensible upgrade would pay dividends.
On the road, the Scalare is really rather good. The riding position is definitely on the racy side, but the frame does a decent job of smoothing out the worst of the road bumps and vibes. The steering is quick but not twitchy, and the low front end complements the direct-mount rear brake and bladed spokes while giving an aero nod.
The 11-speed Ultegra groupset is lovely, with smooth, slick changes, but there is a slight sluggishness in initial acceleration as 3kg of wheels get rolling. Better tyres would enhance the ride quality. All in all the Scalare performs very well, and with a decent set of wheels and tyres would be a very impressive bike indeed.
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