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Condor Super Acciaio Disc review

15 May 2020
Verdict:

A steel bike with classic looks, classy finish but a racing bent, the Super Acciaio is a wonderful all-rounder

Cyclist Rating: 
For 
Great handling • Confident at speed • Spectacular paint • Fast and agile wheelset
Against 
Dropouts could be prettier • Ultegra mechanical levers lack ergonomics of Di2

It’s probably not news to you, but it was to me: the fastest bird in the world – nay, animal on the planet, is the peregrine falcon, top speed 389kmh. By contrast, a Condor flies at an almost stately 88kmh. Nowhere near the fastest animal, then. Yet surprisingly, when it comes to bikes and one specific descent, there is nothing I have tested thus far that has gone as fast as the Condor Super Acciaio Disc.

I say ‘surprisingly’ because, while I have high hopes for any Condor bike, I do not usually associate steel with top-end speed. And steel is exactly what the Super Acciaio is made from, albeit a fairly special kind, says Condor’s Claire Beaumont.

‘We work closely with Columbus to produce custom-shaped Spirit HSS tubes, rather than building from its standard catalogue,’ she says.

Thus while the steel alloy material is the same for the Super Acciaio as it is for any Columbus Spirit HSS tubed bike, you’ll not see tube profiles quite like these elsewhere.

That fact alone does not a fast bike make, of course, but it is indicative of the level of detail that goes into the Super Acciaio. That is, while Condor does use a third-party contract builder in Italy, it still designs everything itself, from the geometry to the custom-made rear dropouts to the paint.

On that last note, while the fabrication here is top notch (Condor’s builders are held in high regard within the industry, and rightly so), special mention should go to the paint scheme, which strikes a wonderful balance between classy and punchy, refined but head-turning. I daresay whatever trends are afoot, this bike will age well.

In pure construction terms, though, the top tube is ovalised (wider than it is tall) in a way designed to promote vertical flex but resist twisting, so too the seatstays flattened. Up front is a 44mm head tube and below is an oversized down tube and chunky chainstays.

At a claimed 2.1kg for the frame, Condor hasn’t scrimped on material, but those extra grams seem to have been put to good use. Out of the stalls the Super Acciaio has the feeling of an excited buck rather than a stately mare, and on the climbs the extra weight is mostly unapparent thanks to the front and rear stiffness on offer. Gradients above 10% do highlight the extra weight, but I’ll happily accept that for the way the Acciaio descends.

Confident customer

If the Super Acciaio has one standout strength, it’s handling. At low speeds the bike feels just fine but, like all great descenders, when the road plummets the handling becomes more responsive, the overall feel of roadholding that much more assured. I reckon it’s for this reason that I achieved a PB down one particularly fast and sinuous descent that I take all test bikes on.

On arrival at the descent I normally ease off at the top and dab the brakes here and there, but on the Super Acciaio I felt secure in carrying good speed over the crest and not touching the brakes once on the way down.

It’s not an inherently fast bike, in that it’s not designed to be aero and isn’t super-light, but it’s easy to go fast on this bike because its handling and planted feel inspire confidence to push the limits of speed.

Of course, a bike is more than its frame, and thoughts need to be spared for the Super Acciaio’s components. The Fizik finishing kit has been around for a while and for good reason – it works, both functionally and ergonomically – while the Ultegra mechanical disc groupset does a fantastic job of the tasks handed it, especially when it comes to dependable, well-modulated braking. So far, so to be expected from these established brands. The Mavic Cosmic wheels were a nice surprise, though.

For a long while Cosmics were a go-to wheel for upper-tier bikes and upgrades, but various brands and industry trends have made the Cosmics look outdated.

Buy now from Condor Cycles

For these latest-generation wheels, though, Mavic seems to have rolled back the years (or finally caught up, depending on how you look at it) to offer wide, blunt-nosed rim profiles and a very competitive-for-a-45mm-deep-wheel 1,490g weight (claimed). 

It did have a little help from its friends, mind, as the Mavic Yksion Pro tyres are made in conjunction with fellow French brand Hutchinson, using its 11Storm compound to deliver a tubeless tyre that rolls fast and feels grippy.

Regardless, the wheelset is a fine choice for the Super Acciaio, mirroring the bike’s steadfast feel and augmenting its speed and acceleration with aerodynamic finesse.

Many wins, few losses

If you can’t tell, I really like the Super Acciaio. It ticks a huge number of boxes, from the most subjective of all – looks – to elements inescapable, such as performance.

We spent most of a grubby winter together and shared some miles that would have been much more soul-searching were it not for the bike. Yet there is room for improvement.

First up, as functional as the Ultegra mechanical groupset is, I just can’t abide the bulbous nature of the hoods. Yes they have to fit in the mechanical gubbins plus the hydraulic fluid reservoir, but stacked up against their Di2 counterparts they look positively gawky and don’t feel nearly as tactile.

This is easily changed – at a cost – because Condor offers the Super Acciaio as a custom build so you can spec the parts you want, and I’d want Ultegra Di2 instead, or if I was set on mechanical, a Campagnolo Chorus or Record gruppo. Less easily changed, though, are the dropouts.

I’d stop short at calling the Super Acciaio’s dropouts ugly, but they are very functional and, being fairly sizable pieces of solid machined steel, I can’t help but feel they add unnecessary weight and limit comfort.

It’s not that the bike is uncomfortable, it’s just that it could be more comfortable if the entire length of the chainstays was a tube. This could be achieved (and is by a few other brands) by using 3D-printed dropouts (simply welding disc mounts onto a regular steel tube is structurally problematic).

Yet 3D printing isn’t without its own cost, and arguably that could undermine the Super Acciaio’s other great attribute – that for under £2,000 you get a frameset that performs exceptionally well but also oozes the finish and looks of a custom steel bike costing twice as much.

As ever, it’s a trade-off, but at least with the Super Acciaio, what you forgo will feel negligible to what you gain.

Buy now from Condor Cycles

Spec

Frame Condor Super Acciaio Disc
Groupset Shimano Ultegra Disc
Brakes Shimano Ultegra Disc
Chainset Shimano Ultegra Disc
Cassette Shimano Ultegra Disc
Bars Fizik Cyrano R3 
Stem Cyrano R1
Seatpost Cyrano R1
Saddle Fizik Antares R3
Wheels Mavic Cosmic Pro Carbon SL UST Disc, Mavic Yksion Pro UST 25mm tyres 
Weight 8.65kg
Contact condorcycles.com
Price: 
£1,899.99 frameset (approx £5,500 as built)

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