Condor Tempo £699.99
London-based Condor Cycles has been turning out bikes since the year dot [1948 actually - ed.], and has enjoyed successful sales with its singlespeed/fixed wheel Pista, a familiar sight on the streets of any large city around the UK.
It’s difficult to improve on the already successful Pista, but Condor has managed to expand its range with the Tempo, a bike that is half fixie, half training bike. This might be seen as a bold move by Condor, but look at the Tempo as a cross between the Pista and the Fratello and you can see the sense.
The Tempo’s design owes a lot to both the Pista and Fratello – winner of RCUK’s Winter Bike Grouptest, taking the same frame tubing as the Pista but adding to the mix some of what makes the Fratello such a cracking bike. Triple-butted Dedacciai SAT 14.5 is again used to good effect, being characteristically well finished and neatly welded.
Then we come to the looks. With a deep layer of paint and understated decals, the Tempo not only looks smart but also classy. In fact, Condor’s bikes are all looking particularly good this year.
It’s a promising start then, and continues when you take the bike for the first ride. On the roads, the Tempo is a comfy cruiser. It’s mild-mannered at low speeds, but increase the pace and it develops a sporty character. It’s not flighty like a 16lb race bike, but it delivers a high level of nimbleness in situations that require it.
On poorly surfaced roads the ride is taut but fine, with no undue thudding over potholes or cracks in the road, the frame clearly dissipating much of the road buzz that can lead to discomfort. That’s helped by the 545g Deda Nero Forza 5 carbon fork up front, a good match for the lively frame, providing enough feedback through your hands while still managing to take the edge of any harshness that can occur.
By essentially taking some elements of both the Pista and Fratello, they’ve created a more comfortable bike that’s ideally suited to longer rides and winter training. Rack and mudguard mounts have been added, creating a more versatile bike that opens its use up to more than just flitting around city streets.
The 73.5 degree head and seat angles create a fast yet reassuringly stable handling frame. The headtube has gained an inch over the Pista, now up to 17.5cm, and the chainstays have been lengthened by 2cm, bringing them to 42.5cm, providing extra clearance for mudguards and 28mm tyres. These changes have brought the ride a little closer to that of the Fratello than the Pista. Frame weight is a quoted 1.8kg.
One of the reasons for riding a fixed wheel bike is the lack of components that can go wrong, keeping maintenance to a minimum. The kit was better than expected at this price point, with a mix of Deda and Miche sourced components. Condor have close relationships with these brands and hence many of the components carry Condor’s logo. Some people might find the branding exercise a little over the top, but I think it works.
The ride comfort – even with 23mm tyres - is remarkable. Turn the handlebars and the bike responds with the same pleasing eagerness as the Fratello displayed, with the geometry perfectly poised for stable and planted riding. It’s an enjoyable bike to ride, offering a delightful combination of nimbleness and comfort, and the longer wheelbase helps create a stable platform. The riding position, as with most Condor’s RCUK has tested, is particularly spot on, with the bars falling into just the right spot for the 5’11" tester (following a swap of the 12cm stem for a 13cm item).
The headtube places the bars quite high, but Condor thoughtfully fit enough spacers to allow the height to be adjusted to suit. Condor will happily swap over any parts for a fit or to up-spec the bike, if so desired. If I’m going to be picky, it’s that the brake levers a bit too spongy when pulled hard, but they still provide decent braking performance. The wheels, built around Condor branded hubs, Miche rims and 32 spokes front and rear, offer a smooth ride.
Gear setup is crucial on a fixed wheel bike, and this test bike came with a 46x18 combination, giving a gear of 67 inches, perfect for my daily commute. If that’s too high or low, Condor will happily change the sprocket and chainring.
Compared to the Pista, the Tempo makes for an easier and gentler introduction to fixed wheel riding, should you be reading this with a view to making the leap from gears to no gears. The frame provides enough stiffness for bursts of speed, but the sweet spot is really one of cruising along at a steady tempo and finding smooth lines through the chaos of inner city life.