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
For over sixty years Condor Cycles of London has been building bicycles specific to customer needs.
At Condor the aim is to provide everything that bicycle ownership entails, from advice, bike fitting, components and clothing, to repairing a puncture on a Monday morning.
Our success over the last sixty years has been dependent on being aware of current and future technologies. Ongoing market research and close relationships with key component manufactures has enabled Condor to offer the latest products; tried, tested and assessed before appearing on the store’s shelves.
In 1948 the majority of race bikes were bespoke but in today’s market place, a bespoke bicycle is a rarity. At Condor, it is what we have done every day for sixty years. From competitive to fitness rider, commuter, new or returning cyclist, the right bike opens up a world on two wheels.
As more and more marques take their manufacturing to the Far East, we continue to produce our frames by hand in Italy. Frames are constructed from our own selection of tubing and manufactured to our own design requirements. We utilise the right materials to produce frames dedicated to each purpose.
The bikes take inspiration from our rich heritage. Condor bicycles have been ridden to World Championship gold medals, ridden in the Tour de France, and have been the choice of many figures in the public limelight, ranging from judges to rock stars. Few brands can claim to have their bikes ridden by cycling household names including Tom Simpson and Bradley Wiggins.
Condor store offers Condor bicycle build, Brompton and Airnimal folding and is a Brooks dealer of excellence. Condor is a Brompton level three accredited dealer and bespoked Brompton centre.
Condor has survived tough economic climates in a number of decades because, at its core, Condor and its staff have a passion for cycling.
1948 – Monty Young opens Condor Cycles at 90 Gray’s Inn Road
1950 – Condor Cycles opens 211 Balls Pond Road
1960 – Move to larger premises at 144 Gray’s Inn Road
1960 – Era of the Condor Mackeson team, which nurtured top riders such as Colin Lewis and Dave Bonner
1972 – Grant Young, Monty’s son, begins working at Condor in 1972
1980 – Monty Young sets up Paris Lightweight Cycle – frames feature unique style and handsome bi-laminations.
1986 – Condor Cycles support Percy Bilton Pro Cycling Team – racing in a range of Pro tour race
1998 – Move to larger premises at 51 Gray’s Inn Road
1998 – Supports Anglia Sport cycling team. Rider Gary Baker wins several stages of Milk Race
2005 – 'The Condor Years: A Panorama of British Cycling' is published
2006 – Rapha Condor racing team formed
2007 – Reintroduction of the Paris Cycles range – includes Galibier and Tour de France models
2008 – Condor Cycles celebrates 60th Anniversary
2008 – Dean Downing takes National Criterium title on the Condor Leggero
2009 – Kristian House wins National Road Race Championship on the Condor Leggero
2009 – Store expansion and refit
2012 - Condor rider, Ed Clancy win gold medal at the London Games
2013 - Stockist network announced making Condor bicycles available throughout the UK
2013 - Condor releases Super Acciaio 2.0, the first UCI approved racing steel frameset
2014 - Condor announced as official supplier to the Lea Valley velopark, home of the London Velodrome
2015 - JLT CONDOR pro cycling team relaunched wih Mavic apparel providing equipment and clothing
The current Condor range spans all aspects of cycling: road racing, road sport, touring, audax, commuting, cyclo-cross, time trial, track racing, single speed commuting, audax and touring.
Condor Cycles operates from a store on Gray’s Inn Road, London, though we sell to a global customer base and have a number of UK stockists, we ship frames and complete bicycles to America, Europe, Japan and Australia.
Our frames are built using Dedacciai custom tubesets and Columbus custom made tubesets in our Italian factory. Carbon, aluminium, titanium and steel frame bicycles are put through strict testing at point of manufacture, then by staff and professional team riders - the aim being to produce performance road bikes for athletes and consumers alike.
The signature frame in the road race range is the full carbon Condor Leggero. This model is used by the JLT CONDOR race team (formerly Rapha Condor) and has helped riders to significant titles including Dean Downing’s 2008 National Criterium Championship win and Kristian House becoming 2009 National Road Race Champion and Mike Cuming winning the 2014 Tour of Korea.
The Condor Leggero is a full-blooded race bike built using a mix of handmade carbon tubes featuring nano resins, the result is responsive handling on a tight criterium course, as well as longevity and performance across the gruelling hills of a road race.
Elsewhere in the range, Condor utilises its expertise in steel frame construction. The Condor Fratello offers comfort without compromise and has become the best selling model within the steel frame range. The versatility of the Fratello sees it out and about during audax and sportives as well as pounding London streets on a commute.
The store’s accessory and clothing department complements the extensive bicycle offering with products from leading premium brands suitable for varying budgets.