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Bike Test – Condor Squadra '05

Squadra

Condor are one of the few remaining true UK bike brands with a deep-set tradition in racing. They have been building bikes for the UK’s best bike riders for 57 years in Grays Inn road, London. Condor are unusual in that they supply customers with the bike they wish for and unlike mainstream manufacturers they can specify pretty much any brand component you want – which is a great advantage should you have a saddle, bar or pedal preference. There’s a proud tradition of building bikes in the Condor workshop which, under the legendary eyes of Monty Young, is well respected. All Condor bikes receive the personal touch (you can be fitted and measured at their showrooms) and although they have a ‘range’ these bikes are all individually assembled.

Condor still build a fair amount of bikes from steel, but have now ventured into aluminium and carbon. In fact their full range was regarded by many at the recent London Show as being one of the most comprehensive and attractive brands on display.

Frame and fork
Scandium is marvellous stuff to build frames with. Anyone who has ridden one will recognise immediately the feel and response it creates. It’s as close as you’ll get to a steel ride with the added benefits of an aluminium chassis; lightweight, strong and responsive to pedal input – which is why top pro riders choose it.

Dedacciai Tubing are a company that branched off from Columbus about ten years ago, they have taken tubing to new levels of excellence and can now offer custom sets to suit the builder and their needs. This grandly named Dedacciai SC61.10A K.E.T. tubeset is Condor’s signature set, very thin tube walls with custom drawn profiles, the frame is built by an Italian builder who has a very close relationship with Condor, so they can do custom sizes too, but do expect to wait if you are ‘out size’. The frame is heat treated and the rear mono-box features carbon seat and chain stays.

Condor bikes have always had a twist of tasteful style and the ’05 Squadra oozes class. Neat touches to the decals and paintwork provide an exclusive finish and one that attracts a lot of envious attention. Most ‘compact’ frame designs have gone a little less extreme in the past year or so and I welcome this as I always found them far too long and low at the front. The Squadra did still feel a little low to me, it could be solved by going up to the next size, or going custom.

Ride-wise the Squadra is a racing bike with ride all day comfort added in and yes, you do really notice the added carbon in the rear end. It certainly helps the bike behave when taking off a rain cape in the saddle or eating a Powerbar, it’s a stable and predictable bike which is something not always associated with compact frame designs. That comfort you expect from carbon is noticeable but in a subtle way that just takes the edge off the road shock and the full carbon back end helps dig the rear wheel into the road when sprinting or climbing. A full carbon fork would take a little weight off the front wheel, but the Squadra’s aluminium/carbon front end is certainly sturdy and provides plenty of confidence to the controls, you could upgrade and save a little weight.

Wheels
Not much wrong with Campagnolo Scirrocco wheels. They stay true, have a great braking surface skimmed onto them and with Campag’s G3 spoking they look good too. The hubs roll in that familiar Campagnolo way and the QR levers work as Tulio intended. They could do with going on a diet though as with many deep section aluminium wheels, they weigh a bit more than a set of quality handbuilt racing wheels.
Vittoria’s Rubino tyres are a good choice for all round training and racing use. They cope well with big mileage but are susceptable to flats on winter gritty roads.

Components
Braking was sharp and precise, very sharp at the back when you are used to differential braking or Shimano brakes. We had a few problems with a slipping seatpost, probably because the frame’s seat tube had been properly reamed out and the carbon seatpost was very smooth, but it was soon sorted out,.

Ten speed for all
The Centaur group is third in line in the Campagnolo command. You wouldn’t notice the difference if you shut your eyes (obviously don’t try this) as the shifting is just as slick.The drivetrain is the part where the Centaur group saves some cash. Compared to the Chorus or Record groups it’s a cheaper look and not the same power to weight ratio as the better set ups would offer. A full Dura Ace version will set you back a mere £1999.99 and the Record equipped Squadra would be £2099.99.

Contact points
The bars and saddle wouldn’t be my choice, but Condor has a long list to choose from. The bits and extras on this test bike are all good choices and the carbon seatpost adds into the complete carbon finishing kit idea. The overall attention to the details like this you’ll rarely get from a larger supplier of complete bikes, so just consider what you prefer and give them a call.

Conclusion
It’s remarkable that this Scandium/carbon bike costs about the same amount as some similar ‘big name’ frames do, yet it performs just as well and I’d say it rides better than many too. When a bike is this good a performer it’s hard to describe exactly where it wins outright; it climbs well, sprints, cruises and descends impeccably, the gears worked perfectly, the cables were the right length and the bar tape was applied with precision. Put simply Condor assemble a bike to exacting standards and the Squadra had ticks in all the right boxes. It was pretty hard to find a problem with it, possibly that the front end was a little low for me, but this could be tweaked and solved by careful sizing choices. And then there was that slipping seatpost, but we’re splitting hairs now. This bike was the first to leave the office bike shed each day we had it, everyone wanted to have a go. Few bikes turn heads like this one, it’s such a pity it had to go back.






Good:
Condor build quality and attention to the details



Bad:
Weighty wheels. Deserves a lighter set and a ‘better’ groupset.

Performance:

5/5

Value:
5/5

Overall:
5/5

Specification
Frame sizes: 46, 49, 52, 55, 58 & 61 (compact)
Size tested: 52 (which measured: 48 c to c & 54 cm top tube)
Frame tubing: Dedacciai SC61.10A K.E.T. aluminium
Fork: Carbon with aluminium steerer
Headset: Condor Integrated Aheadset
Crankarms: Campagnolo Centaur 172.5 mm
Chainrings: 53/39T
B/B: Campagnolo Centaur
Pedals: none supplied
Chain: SRAM Ten speed slotted PC-89
Freewheel: Campagnolo Centaur 10 speed 11-23
F/D: Campagnolo Centaur 10 speed
R/D: Campagnolo Centaur 10 speed
Shifters: Campagnolo Centaur 10 speed
Handlebar: ITM Carbon Super Over 42cm
Stem: ITM Carbon
Tape: Condor
Brakes: Campagnolo Centaur
Wheels: Campagnolo Scirocco
Tires: Vittoria Rubino 700x23c
Saddle: Fizik Pave
Seatpost: Smica Carbon
Colour: French Blue, Gloss black and Gloss grey

Weight: 19.0lbs/8.6 kgs less pedals
Price: Complete bike as shown £1399.99 prices from £1149.00 (Veloce 10spd)

Contact: Condor – 020 7269 6820

www.condorcycles.com

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