Neil Manning, Production Director
In short, the Super Acciaio is a race tuned performance steel frame, with an oversized bottom bracket and tapered internal headset. This highly praised frameset is unique and original.
The design and production team are so proud of their efforts they challenge you to find a finished production frame anything like this one. Originally released at the 2011 Cycle Show, the Condor Super Acciaio was the first steel race bike available for retail featuring an oversized head tube and bottom bracket. The bike was extensively tested in 2010 and 2011 by Rapha Condor Sharp riders (now Rapha Condor JLT).
Condor returned to that tried and tested research format and created a better version of the frameset set for release this autumn.
The prototype frames were first tested in a factory environment in December 2012 before various incarnations were passed to former pro rider, Tom Southam, and Rapha Condor JLT lead rider, Kristian House, for review, while Rapha Condor JLT sprinter, James McCallum, used a version of the new Super Acciaio during the 2013 Tour Series.
Twelve months on after more exhaustive testing and prototyping we have sat back down with Super Acciaio Designer Ben Spurrier and Production Director Neil Manning reflect to reflect on the Super Acciaio version one and the new version two built in partnership with Columbus.
What is the bike's background?
Neil Manning: Five years ago there were a number of steel bikes in the range but nothing that was comparable to the carbon models being ridden by our and team and their competitors. The idea of a steel race bike was created on a whim. Could we make a bike light enough to be raced, stiff enough to perform while retaining the characteristics of steel? We did, and then it snowballed.
How was the original idea received?
Neil Manning: Once prototype one was built and painted we mentioned it to the team riders who are old enough to have started their careers on steel -Kristian House, Dan Craven and Tom Southam. Their response was really positive, they all wanted to ride it. Dan Craven rode the second prototype at the Smithfield Nocturne. He asked to take it to Italy, for the mid season break.
On his return to England he rode the bike named ‘The Steely Dan' and placed 2nd to Kristian House in a Premier Calendar one day race, a good podium for the bikes and team.
What makes the new Super Acciaio special?
Neil Manning: As an industry we've all learnt that a tapered headtube improves stiffness, especially when sprinting but also enables better control through tight twisting descents and on race finishing circuits.
We have taken a tried and tested formula and refreshed it. The latest incarnation retains the tapered bottom bracket and the frame is now 200g lighter and uses a carbon fork which is 50g lighter than the previous model.
What are the underlying themes in the design, both the frame shape and livery?
Ben Spurrier: When designing a new colour way for the second generation Super Acciaio we wanted something bold and fresh but timeless and in keeping with the Condor family. Fluorescent Red is a colour that was used on Condor steel race bikes in the 90's and looks as good now as it did then. The bike carries a blend of simple classic elements which are complimented by some more contemporary graphic devices reflecting the cutting edge race machine the Super Acciaio is.
Why partner with Columbus?
Neil Manning: Columbus is one of the oldest and most reknown steel tubing makers, they are a progressive company always looking to innovate and like Condor they are a family-run business too. In the 1930s they made steel-framed furniture designed by people like Marcel Breuer and Mart Stam. Columbus were the first to build a chair that had an enitrerly continous construction, this was only possible thanks to the seamless steel tubing they had developed.
In the early 1980s Columbus developed SLX and it was more advanced than any steel tube previously in existence. It became the choice of tube for any professional road racer because of the ingenious reinforced fillets added to the butted sections of the tube. This made the tube much stiffer and enabled it to be lighter, importantly it could take way more abuse.
Working with a company with such a strong pedigree is great because they are up for a challenge.
2013 marks a historic milestone for our Fratello model: its tenth birthday. Self-styled as the original super bike, it is a frameset that we couldn't be more proud of.
In 2002 the Pendio was a UK built frame using a mix of Reynolds 631 and 725 steel tubing. It wasn't an out-and-out tourer, but a niche frame for those who wanted to ride over a long distance at speed, commute, or take part in an audax on a spritelier steel frame.
By 2002 sales of the Pendio were significantly outstripping the rate at which they could be built in the UK. To meet demand, the Fratello was introduced to the range. The Fratello would be built in Italy and conform to the similar fast audax, lightweight tourer properties of the Pendio. Thus, it was given the name Fratello, which means brother in Italian.
The first batch of ten soon turned into forty, then one hundred within a year. From the very beginning, the Fratello garnered plaudits: "a classic looker that combines comfort and performance" was the verdict of Cycling Plus magazine in 2005.
Key to the frame's success is our determination to keep the material current by continually evolving and pushing what can be done with steel. The current frame has a tubing shape designed by Condor and drawn by Dedacciai. The down tube begins ovalised and becomes hexagonal towards the bottom bracket; the squarer shape makes the tube stronger at a point where the stress is greatest, without adding material unnecessarily. The result is tubing with the same torsional strength as Reynolds 853 at a more affordable price.
"In 2005, we approached Dedacciai, a steel tubing manufacturer, to help us further refine the Fratello, create our own tubing shapes based on the feedback from riders, make the frameset lighter, more comfortable, smoother and just as strong as the Reynolds tubing we'd started out with" explains Grant Young, Managing Director.
The introduction of a 1-1/8" head tube with integrated headset in 2006 was one element of the Fratello's frame design that bucked the trend among steel frames of the time. It was a technology consistently found on aluminium and carbon bikes, but not afforded to steel. A wider diameter head tube was stiffer, especially when climbing out of the saddle. Some tubing makers weren't as willing to evolve their steel tube sets and it meant that steel couldn't compete against aluminium for performance, making it less popular. Except, for Condor, it was still a key material and when this technology was applied to the frame, the handling quality was immediately on a par with aluminium frames of that design.
The larger diameter head tube provided an increased contact surface area to join the top and down tube, providing additional strength with only a minimal weight penalty. The internal headset also made it easier for riders to maintain their bikes; bearings can be popped into the head tube without needing specialist tools.
The Fratello has nearly always featured a carbon fork at the helm. More recent versions of the fork are Condor designed to be fitted in tandem with our deep drop brake, allowing users to fit a wider 28c tyre for tough winter conditions but also keep using their full mudguards. The use of our own deep drop brake ensures that the quality of braking is maintained no matter what groupset brand is chosen. The fork features a full carbon steerer to lighten the overall weight of the frame.
"Finally in 2008 we were able to bring to market a change in rear stays. After thorough testing over the previous seasons, unique curved rear seat stays were introduced to enhance comfort for the rider, without lost of feel."
The frame had a tough fight on its hands in the first five years of existence. Mid noughties mainstream opinion had branded all steel boring; an unadventurous technology compared with the space-age carbon and lighter aluminium frames. But riders soon realised that not all aluminium frames are particularly lightweight and if the frame was cheaply produced the ride quality suffered.
Selecting a suitable frame for a particular type of riding will always go down a storm. That's just what we did. The number of Fratello riders grew organically, based on reputation and the trust customers placed in our sales team to sell them a bike suitable for their needs.
From the early models to our current offering the bike has kept to its true identity and offers riders versatility when they can't or don't want to own a stable of bikes. In 2012 Cycling Plus agreed: "It'll easily tackle commuting, sportives, fast endurance riding and light touring during the summer without mudguards, commuting and training during the winter with. The frameset is available at £599.99, and it's easily good enough to deck out with some seriously spangly wallet emptying kit."
Whether it's in glorious burnt orange, elegant light blue or slate with subtle sparkles, there is no denying our most popular frame has held strong with Cycling Weekly calling it a frame for life in their 2010 Christmas issue: "You really can walk out with something that will outlive an army of Duracell bunnies", awarding their test bike 9/10.
There are many more years to come, so, happy birthday to our brother, the Fratello.
You've poured untold hours, miles and sweat into your passion and now Condor delivers a bicycle frame in a material that will lift your experience of cycling to new heights; which makes you want to go out and ride again and again. We're dedicated to bicycles built with passion, innovation and purpose. Are you?
Acciaio Stainless is a new model in the 2013 Condor range and it uses the highest grade of steel available.The Acciaio Stainless is Condor’s most expensive frameset to date; the raw material is notoriously difficult to work with, complicating and extending manufacturing times, but the end result is a stunning ride which melds top-tier performance with the ability to be ridden all day, into one, single, purebred bicycle.
“Welds are flawless, that can only be achieved through tireless work of human hands with great time and care, and of course a little passion for the product.” Stu Bowers, Cyclist Magazine
Stainless steel has unique ride properties with some similarities to carbon, creating a lively ride that reacts instantly to any pedalling input or changes in direction, at the same time harnessing the age old fundamentals of a steel bike, which feels the road but doesn't feedback harsh bumps into a weary riders' arms.
"It's an endearing ride, but tough to describe, except to say its subtle differences from a carbon bike are apparent. It's got a spring in its step that's hard not to enjoy." Cyclist Magazine January, 2013
There are no tapered head tubes, integrated headsets or oversized bottom brackets. The shape is purposefully traditional, using narrow tubes from Columbus - a classic material built by craftsmen. The superior strength of stainless steel negates the need to oversize the tubes to increase strength.
The Acciaio Stainless is built to order. The small batch production technique we apply ensures that utmost precision is applied during the build. This also means you can decide on your geometry: choose an aggressive position akin to the Leggero and Super Acciaio, or more of a climbing position used on the Baracchi and Acciaio. Riders will be invited to have a bicycle fit and can select a stock geometry from our standard steel range.
The final task is to select a finishing colour. Our colour palette has 50 hues to choose from. We show it in midnight blue, but all the colours are available to view in the store.
Each bicycle frame is built by our craftsmen in
The Acciaio Stainless is available as a complete bicycle build or as a frameset only.
Stuart Bowers, Deputy Editor, Cyclist Magazine
Simply the Italian for "steel".
Utilising our knowledge in all frame materials, each model in the performance steel range is focused on delivering a lightweight and responsive frameset that will take you further faster and allow you to push the limits of your fitness. The Acciaio is a long standing model that has existed as our performance steel frame since 2002. It has spawned three unique framesets that have built upon the success, technology and praise of the original Acciaio.
The models in the Condor performance steel range are:
All steel frames are built in our our factory in northern Italy and painted just down the road before being flown to London, where frames are built up by our mechanics into bicycles. Performance steel has an equal footing alongside materials like carbon and aluminium, as long as the design and application is right. We work with all types of material and various grades in each, which highlights the positives about each material and the characteristics that each can deliver to a ride.
The performance steel range excels over long stretches of broken tarmac, fast winding descents and your local training ground. The models have clearly defined tasks:
The 2013 range was previewed in Birmingham at the Cycle Show in October. The range featured revisions to popular models and the introduction of Columbus tubing, electronic cable integration on our carbon bikes, and an entirely new stainless steel model.
The 2013 range bursts with colour and commands your attention. The technology and performance of our frames is paramount and we never make a compromise for a colour, but a bicycle to us is not just a machine. When you see a bike we want both its shape and colour to grab you, offering function, form, aesthetic delight and motivation for the rider.
Our head of design, Ben Spurrier, and production director, Neil Manning, talk through the palet used on this year's bike range, which is now available in store and through our stockists.
Click on the images below to discover the technology in each of the frames and see more pictures.
Condor Leggero | Performance Race Bike | Frameset: £2199.99
Condor Fratello | Audax and Commuting Road Bike | Frameset: £599.99
Condor Lavoro | Performance Track Bike | Frameset: £499.99
Condor Tempo | Touring Single Speed and Town Bike | Frameset: £599.99
Condor Terra-X | Performance cyclo cross bike | Frameset: £799.99
Condor Acciaio | Steel performance Road Bike | Frameset: £749.99
Condor Potenza | Everyday Fixie and Entry Level Track Bike | Frameset: £499.99
At the heart of a bicycle is the frame. It is the soul of the machine. It is one of the most expensive parts and the part that will give your ride its character, its feel and its purpose.
At Condor the frameset is extremely important to us; it has and always will be. That is why after sixty five years we still make all our frames by hand to our specifications in our production facility.
If we go back to when Condor started we used the most famous tubeset in the world; Reynolds 531.
Every frame used to be built using 531 but through the years as people strived to lighten their bikes naturally people turned to the frame. Our Baracchi frame was lugless and had fillet-brazed joints reducing the weight a little bit. We then moved on to butted tubes, having less material where it wasn't needed.
People were using steel frames for road racing at the time and then aluminium appeared in the late eighties. There were some hideously 'blob-welded' frames but when aluminium took off it changed everything. Even if you were proficient in working with steel, it didn't necessarily mean you could work in aluminium. We had proper craftsmen who could make handmade steel frames but working with aluminium required a different set of skills.
We had to start our own production facility using aluminium but we knew we couldn't do it here in the UK. We looked to Italy as we didn't want to go to the Far East. We are a UK company and wanted to keep production in Europe if we could. It was at that time a lot of Italian bike brands moved production to Taiwan, which meant that they were leaving behind many craftsmen who could actually work with aluminium.
What they can see in that frame is craftsmanship. You do need a craftsman to produce a frame like that.
Our ethos to craftsmanship passes onto our carbon framesets. We are proud all our framesets in the Condor range are finished in Italy. The carbon tubes of the Leggero are hand wrapped and hand cut. Layers of carbon are built up to create the frame and the carbon is held together with nano resins. The same manufacturing process is used to create our current carbon Baracchi frames.
We build almost everything out of almost anything. Millimetres translate into performance, and our meticulous attention to detail can be seen in every bike.
We do not compromise, designing our frames so they can be built by the unskilled and a machine, before passing to another worker to carry out another monotonous task. We know our craftsman build with the knowledge of the joy the frame will bring to the rider. That bike could carry someone to a life changing victory or used to ascend the tallest peaks in the most spectacular landscapes.
The fabricators and designers of Condor framesets continue to innovate with unique ideas, use the newest technologies and refine accepted techniques. Production methods become more sophisticated year on year but we continue to make frames and create bicycles that respect the ethos of craftsmanship.
Sections of this article are taken from a book about Condor, Past Present Future
Black mountains of Wales again play host to the Merlin Sportive on the 1st of July.
Leaving from the idyllic National Botanic Gardens four routes spread out across the climbs and road of Carmarthenshire offering superb scenery and testing gradients.
We rode 'the Merlin' in 2011 under a blistering sun and loved the organisation, route and atmosphere so we are heading back there again to take on the 104 mile long ride and we hope you will join us.
To enter click here
The ride details:
- Four routes, 23, 57, 70, 104 miles
- Timing chips for all participants
- F ully marshalled route and Motor cycle escort by Dyfed Powys Police
- Mechanical assistance
- Feed stations and water points
- Free photographs for participants
- Free recovery pasta meal at the finish
- Free entry to the National Botanic Gardens
- Changing facilities
- Trade village with Condor, Cervelo, Trek and Wilier
Date: Sunday 1st July
Location: Starts from National Botanic Garden of Wales, Carmathen, SA4 0TX
The Merlin Sportive raises money for McMillan Cancer Charity, Wales Air Ambulance and Ty Hafan Children's charity.
Capo was founded in the US in 2004, offering technical socks and soon after expanded the product collection to men & women's apparel. The Capo jerseys, shorts and jackets available at Condor are all manufactured in northern Italy at their factory near Varese.
The devil is in the detail, and Capo jerseys are functional performance garments. Take the mid priced Dorato jersey, silver fibres are woven into the fabric, for what we politely call anti-odour protection, while the majority of the jersey is constructed from Carbon E yarn, a term Capo use for their signature fabric. Carbon E is a technical, dual-knit microfiber polyester with a visible antimicrobial carbon thread running throughout that helps expedite moisture transfer and drying time, while also keeping you effectively shielded from harmful UV rays.
Capo is bold with its designs, celebrating the distinctively styling in its range of jerseys through to bib shorts, vests, and jackets.
We like the SC-12 bib shorts, the item is anything but your average bib short. Gary Vasconi describes them "a race fit bib, lightweight and constructed from high-gauge (HG) Lycra, giving the material a dense feel." The Capo founder explains that the material provides muscle compression for greater comfort and abrasion resistance for durability. At the gripper where material meets the leg, Capo use a doubled-over layer of laser-cut HG Lycra with a light silicone treatment. "The generous width of the band makes the grip gentle, while the two layers limit stretch."
The short material is treated with coldblack® a proven technology also used by Rapha in their Pro Team range. The treatment reduces heat build-up and provides effective protection from UV rays.
The full Capo range is available now from subtle classic styles to fabulous Euro White. Sizes run from Small to XX-Large.
You are invited to join the Rapha Condor Sharp team ahead of their summer race season at our classics weekend in Henley-on-Thames on the 14th April.
The weekend will be a chance to meet and ride with the next generation of Rapha Condor Sharp riders, talk candidly to them and support the team in their new direction of developing younger riders. The bikes, clothing and cars the team use will also be available to test.
The weekend will begin with a supported two hour ride on Saturday morning into South Oxfordshire, returning for a free buffet lunch, informal Q&A with the team, the chance to test team bikes and kit. Sunday will follow the same format, with a morning ride into the hilly Chilterns, returning for lunch, test riding. On both days there will be a lead group riding at about 15 mph and a second group for those who prefer a more sedate pace and the chance to chat to the riders.
*rides are now full, afternoon activities are free for anyone to attend*
Attending the daytime activities is free but RSVP is essential.
Required information: Which ride(s) you would like to go on and on which day(s).
The event will take place at the beautiful Hotel du Vin in Henley, an hour away from London by car or train.
Hotel du Vin, New Street, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, RG9 2BP
A special, reduced rate is available for the Friday and Saturday nights at Hotel du Vin.
To book a room: call Hotel du Vin, Henley and reference the Rapha Condor Sharp event (01491 848400).
Saturday 14th April
9.30am - Arrival
10am - Ride departure - route available here
1pm - Buffet lunch
2pm to 4.30pm - Rider meet and greet at Hotel du Vin Henley courtyard. Test ride Condor bicycles on a short loop, test Rapha clothing, explore the ethos behind Rapha Condor Sharp.
Sunday 15th April
9am - Meet for ride
9.30am - Ride departure - route available here
12.30pm - Buffet lunch
1.30pm - 3.30pm - Rider meet and greet at Hotel du Vin Henley courtyard. Test ride Condor bicycles on a short loop, test Rapha clothing, explore the ethos behind Rapha Condor Sharp.Test Bikes and Clothing
To try a bike you will need to bring a pair of pedals and a credit card. Your card will be retained by Condor staff whilst you're on the test ride. The test is free but in the event of the bicycle being lost, damaged or stolen Condor will seek to recoup the loss. The test bicycles are a sample of the Condor range and not every size or model will be available.
A variety of test clothing will be available and as above, a credit card will need to be left as a guarantee. Should you be testing a bike too, this can be done on the same card.
When Rapha Condor Sharp first sprinted their way up the tarmac in 2008, they were fuelled by Science in Sport and have been ever since. Rapha and Condor are now indelibly associated with British cycle racing, and so it's a perfect fit given that Science in Sport are a British based brand too.
Science in Sport was born over twenty years ago from the frustrations of two men who, unable to buy the right products, wanted to get more out of their cycling and training. Since then, the pair, a cyclist and a sport scientist, have expanded their range of nutrition that has helped pro cyclist after pro cyclist ride to title victory.
Their objective from the beginning has been to make the best possible products that are true to their claims. They never set out to be a nutrition company, but they figured out that the only way to ensure that the products "had in them what we wanted in them" and "had nothing in them that we did not want in them" would be to do it themselves. Today, Science in Sport still develop and manufacture their energy food at their Blackburn factory, opting to produce in small batch quantities to carefully monitor product quality.
Energy drinks, gels and bars are well known for their uses; open any cycling magazine and there is advice regarding the amount of energy food to eat and when to eat it. Recovery drinks are often over-looked, considered a product for building vein popped muscles and gym bunnies. For cyclists, recovery drinks are an untapped source of goodness that lets you pick up daily life, keeping injury, illness and fatigue at bay.
1. Consume a recovery drink within 30 minutes of finishing activity. It's a window when your body is calling out for energy and also when you can be most susceptible to getting ill as your immune system is suppressed.
2. Rego by Science in Sport has a mix of carbohydrate and protein in a ratio of 3:1. Studies show that consuming carbohydrate and protein at a 3:1 ratio will help you to store carbohydrate more effectively than consuming carbohydrate alone.
3. Rego contains whey protein. Available more quickly than any other kind of protein, it provides the amino acids necessary for muscle repair with little delay.
4. Rego also uses a second protein, L-glutamine, to stop your muscles from breaking down after exercise. L-glutamine is needed by the brain, intestines, kidneys, lungs and immune system. If you leave your body to produce its own supply, it will break down muscle tissue in order to make it available. Therefore, supplementation with L-glutamine immediately after exercise stops the body scavenging for an alternative supply and eating into your muscle.
5. Rego contains three different carbohydrates that ensure the maximum uptake of energy into the muscle and liver stores after exercise.
6. Rehydration is very important. Ever had a headache or a dry chapped mouth the day after a hard ride? That is your body telling you that you're dehydrated. But there is only so much liquid we can drink. Rego powder contains electrolytes that speed the uptake of water by the body compared with consuming just plain water.
7. Depending on the length and intensity of your cycling, it is recommended that you consume 1.2-1.4g of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Instead of working out how much chicken or protein you need to eat in a sandwich after your ride, Rego is a quick and easy way of mixing some after ride nutrition.
8. A hit of protein keeps you on top form. Protein is involved in producing neurotransmitters, chemical messengers in the brain keeping you alert, focused and energised. They also slow down the release rate of glucose into the bloodstream, helping to stabilise blood sugar between rides, and containing energising nutrients such as B vitamins, iron and zinc.
Click here to view the Science in Sport range available at Condor.
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