Riders in the market for a reliable and versatile machine for winter training, the club run, commuting, touring and the odd sportive – and lured by the exotic appeal of titanium – will find plenty to like about the Tifosi CK8 Duro.
The CK8 Duro fits that mould well thanks to a sprightly frame, with stable, relaxed handling, and, on the whole, a well-chosen build kit, though we’d soon swap the 23mm tyres for a wider, more forgiving rubber to get the best from the frame.
Because while comfort has long been the calling card of titanium and the CK8 Duro proved a good companion on long rides, it didn’t jump out as an overly plush ride against its titanium rivals or the competition of carbon fibre and even aluminium frames increasingly built to score highly on this front.
It’s easy to see why titanium remains, quite literally, an attractive material from which to fashion a bicycle frame. It’s very easy on the eye and the CK8 Duro, made from 3Al-2.5V titanium, the standard grade of titanium alloy used for most frames, is no different. The CK8 comes with full-length mudguards and also has mounts for a rear rack to transform it from a training bike to a light tourer.
It’s an understated frame with neat welds and conventional tube profiles. Tapered headtubes have started to appear on titanium frames, including the Kinesis GF_Ti V2 and No.22 Great Divide, but the CK8 Duro retains a straight-through 1-1/8″ headtube which accompanies a shapely carbon fibre fork. The downtube is mildly oversized and ovalises gently at its junction with the BSA bottom bracket but otherwise this is a classic-looking frame.
The CK8 Duro is a new addition to the Tifosi range and enters the fray essentially as a titanium version of the aluminium CK7. As a result, it shares the same compact and relaxed geometry. Four sizes, from small to extra-large, are available and our medium test bike has a 55cm toptube, 54cm seattube, and 72.5 and 74 degree headtube and seattube angles. The 173mm headtube makes for a relatively upright position well-suited to a bike like this, where you’re more likely to be cruising round the lanes on the club run, commuting or setting off on a mini-tour then getting your head down in a race.
The CK8 Duro has handled everything thrown at it during the course of our late winter and early spring test, and that’s covered just about everything apart from touring and racing. It’s a very capable winter/training bike with a lively ride quality and a stiff platform from which to pedal. it’s a willing companion on reliability rides and sportives – though riders aiming for the fastest times will invariably suffer from the extra weight of a titanium frame in its winter dress – and it’s a machine which will get plenty of use on Monday to Friday on the ride to work.
The CK8’s best attribute, however, is its versatility and dependability. The fact it comes in this build, with tried-and-tested components and full-length mudguards, suggests it’s best-suited to inclement weather but we’d wager that there’s still plenty of fun to be had if you stripped the CK8 Duro of its mudguards, changed the tyres and slotted in a lighter wheelset.
That’s thanks to a frame which is plenty stiff enough, with a sprightly feel when you climb out of the saddle and stand on the pedals. Of course, it doesn’t have the immediate zip of a lighter machine (our test bike is no lightweight at 9.17kg), or the seat-of-your-pants ride of a super-stiff carbon fibre or aluminium frame, but it’s designed for long miles and remains a fun bike to take out for a long day in the saddle. It also still climbs pretty well for a machine of this weight (though when we set out for a training ride of hill reps we probably found the CK8 Duro’s limit).
The handling is, as you’d expect of a bike like this, stable and neutral. It requires very little attention when cruising the lanes but the handling isn’t lazy or uninspiring and the CK8 Duro holds a solid line on descents. We didn’t feel we were at any great performance disadvantage as a result of having a 1-1/8″ headtube rather than a modern tapered steerer.
Titanium’s USP has long been its ‘absorbent’ and ‘springy’ ride quality but, with carbon fibre and aluminium frames increasingly geared up towards comfort, that is somewhat diminished. The CK8 Duro remains a very pleasant bike to ride over long distances but it’s not as immediately ‘absorbent’ as some of its rivals. The stiff wheels and narrow tyres don’t help, which brings us on to the build kit.
Tifosi is the house brand of Chicken Cycle Kit – one of the UK’s key distributors of cycling goods – and so the CK8 Duro is something of a show piece for Chicken’s brands. That’s no bad thing as, by and large, the component package is well-suited to a machine of this ilk.
What we would immediately change – and what we’ve already alluded to – are the 23mm Vittoria Zaffiro tyres. We suffered no punctures during the course of our test (so the tyres get a thumbs up in that regard) but it’s a stiff and harsh rubber – and tyres play a key role in the overall comfort of a bike. The CK8 Duro has clearance for 28mm tyres and it seems like a missed opportunity to spec it with narrow tyres like these. Instead, make use of the extra room afforded by the frame with a 25mm or 28mm tyres and enjoy a plusher ride and increased contact patch with the road.
The Campagnolo Scirocco 35 wheels are also pretty stiff but remain a good choice if paired with a more forgiving tyre. They’re a reasonable weight – a claimed 1,725g – considering the 35mm rim depth, which in itself is advertised as aero. We can’t vouch for that but the wheels do look good, are responsive under acceleration and handle well in blustery conditions.
All the groupset components except from the brakes come from Campagnolo’s entry-level Veloce groupset. Campagnolo’s shifting has a distinct clunk and Veloce is a little more agricultural than the Italian firm’s more upscale offerings, but the shifting is reliable and precise, and the compact chainset and 11-25t cassette provides a good spread of gears. Whether you prefer the one-button-one-shift mechanism of Campagnolo over the soft click of a Shimano STI lever or SRAM’s DoubleTap setup is down to personal preference. The Miche long-drop brakes provide plenty of bite and well-modulated braking.
The finishing kit comes from Cinelli, with an aluminium handlebar, stem and seatpost. Tifosi have opted for a 27.2mm seatpost and the narrower diameter helps deal with road buzz, but an upgrade to a carbon fibre post should further improve that. We’d also prefer a thicker tape wrapped around the handlebar.
Finally, the SKS Bluemels mudguards are a key component in the build package and really mark the CK8 Duro out as an all-weather machine. They’re sturdy and provide excellent coverage – the two key qualities you want from a mudguard.
All in all, the Tifosi CK8 Duro is a good example of a titanium machine as well-suited to the demands of British winter riding and commuting as it is to light touring and the club run. It’s a pleasing machine on the eye and an engaging bike to ride, with a frame which provides a stiff platform and predictable handling. Titanium remains an expensive metal and there’s a premium over similar machines built from other materials but the CK8 Duro remains a versatile machine if you want one bike to cover a number of bases, even if a couple of minor changes to the off-the-shelf spec would further improve comfort.
UK distributor: Chicken Cycles