Buying a bike is, much of the time, a decision made with either the heart or mind. A battle of the two: which one wins out depends on many factors. Aspects such as its colour, its origin of manufacture, the brand’s history, its design, the spec, all influence a decision before the credit card is duly handed over to the bike shop.
With this in mind, the Condor Leggero Team Issue, the very bike currently being piloted to much success by the Rapha/Condor race team, is a bike that can be bought with the heart. It ticks a lot of boxes on the way too, not only because of the race connection mentioned already, but because it’s designed in good ol’ Blighty by a bike shop with a long history of supplying top-end race bikes. And its looks? Well, it’s a feast for the eyes, make no mistake.
The carbon-framed Leggero has a lot going for it, then. It’s no less impressive when you actually get up close and climb aboard. At its heart beats the Dedacciai DCS Superlight frame, made from hand-cut and hand-wrapped high-modulus tubing. Its sumptuous curves flowing seamlessly from one join to the next and draped in the glossiest black paint you’ll ever see.
The frame is designed by Condor and hand-made in Italy, and follows fairly conventional lines – no bad thing in this increasing age of unnecessary curviness, allowing the few curves to shine. There’s some subtle bulging along the downtube, a sturdy bottom bracket junction and, out back, a Deda Drive Box and Tail seat and chainstay configuration. The chainstays are flared and the seat stays end in a wishbone.
Condor use a carbon wrap method for the front triangle, in which layers of carbon fibre sheet are laid in place over mitred and butt-bonded joints. Frame weight is a claimed 1,035g for a medium, which while not as light as some of the waifest frames available, is certainly no heavyweight. It does make you wonder where the few extra grammes are hiding though. Maybe it’s in the paint?
Meanwhile, in service up front is a 360g Deda Wave fork, which features a distinctive curve that grabs your attention. Those curves may not serve any beneficial purpose, but they do look good and complete the frame and fork package nicely. Well-styled it is.
For a bike destined to be the workhorse of a hard-working race team, you’d expect a top-drawer groupset, and that’s exactly what Condor has chosen. There’s no shortcuts here, all good honest gear. Like Shimano’s Dura-Ace, itself much race-proven to be faultless and dependable in any circumstance. Wheels are the new Carbon 1380s, complementing the frame to perfection. Many of the Rapha team, such as Dean Downing, opt for deep-section rims when racing, but for most mere mortals, the 1380s are a good, all-round, versatile choice. Not only are they light, they’re also responsive. They get up to speed impressively quickly and their tautness and lack of weight is especially noticeable when climbing.
Continental provide the confidence-inspiring Force and Attack tyres, with a 22mm front tyre matched to the 24mm rear tyre giving good traction and great speed. Deda supply bars and stem and there’s a Condor branded carbon seatpost propping up the pink-striped Fizik Arione saddle – the veritable icing on the cake. A pair of Condor’s excellent logo’d carbon bottle cages completes the spec. You’ll be paying out £2,800 for this little lot, which does seem good value for money. The Leggero is available in less expensive builds however, so you can get a slice of the action at a more affordable price.
My biggest surprise when first riding the Leggero was just how much it looked after me. Any expectations I had of an uncompromising ride(we all know racers like their bikes as stiff as possible) were quickly diminished after a good few outings getting to know the Leggero. The geometry is classic Condor so fast and accurate handling and sure-footedness are guaranteed, and the fit was about perfect. Condor tweak the geometry on the smaller and larger sizes(we tested a 55cm) to better suit. And they’ll happily swap any bits to tailor the fit. I for example requested a longer stem and one was duly fitted.
Knowing the Rapha team have raced all over the UK, and knowing how bad the roads are even on the RCUK patch, it’s easy to see how well the Leggero will have looked after the team riders. I thought at first that maybe it’s too soft, too comforting, but to dismiss it too soon would be a mistake. This is the Leggero’s beauty, it’s supple and handles road roughness with impeccable manners, but show it a tight and twisty circuit and give it some speed, and its race pedigree is apparent. It may not be the stiffest frame out there, but you’ll be hard-pushed to detect any lack of race pace.