It’s often said that if you’re paying around a grand you may get a better bike buying aluminium rather than ‘budget’ carbon. But might that also be true when you up the ante and splash out over £2,000? If first impressions of Condor’s Italia RC are anything to go by, that could be yes.
The Italian link is deeper than just sticking the ‘Italian’ name on a Far Eastern frame, with the RC handmade in Italy to Condor’s own design using Condor-specified 7003 aluminium tubing.
Condor’s customisation also extends to component choices, and with the frameset costing £900 / $1,250 / AU$1,600 (use complete bike builder for required specs) this allowed me to fit a complete Chorus groupset, Campagnolo’s Zonda wheels and 25mm Continental Grand Prix 4000S II tyres and still hit a budget of £2,400.
Okay, far from ‘cheap’, but this looks the proverbial million dollars. The only cost-cutting component was the saddle, and that’s because I'm a fan of the Charge Spoon; you could go for any of the Fizik saddles if you prefer.
It’s aluminium, but this is no harsh-riding old-school heavyweight. The new version of the Italia RC frame is triple-butted from lighter tubing than before, has a 1 1/8- 1 1/2in tapered head-tube for better handling and takes its geometry cues from Condor’s ‘race-winning carbon Leggero’.
My 55cm model is a shade over 8kg, and a swankier saddle would nudge it under that mark. There was still some concern that aluminium paired with the oversized 31.6mm seatpost might be harsh, especially when the lightweight Zonda wheels favour tightness and speed over comfort, but from my first ride this proved not to be the case.
There’s a great immediacy to the Condor’s ride, and you’re not insulated from the road like you can be with more absorbent carbon. This connectedness is emphasised by the feedback you get from the Chorus shifters, which offer a pleasing resounding click. It’s a ride that never ceases to appeal: smooth, poised, polished and with easily enough comfort for tackling all-day sportives or equally challenging rides.
It climbs nimbly, which is when its low overall weight and lightweight wheels come into their own; the stiff frame and wheels mean that changes of direction are instant, controlled and with a direct point-and-shoot nature. The asymmetric down tube, deep chainstays and Deda fork resist flex, skinnier seatstays and the carbon seatpost contribute to comfort.
The weight is reasonable for the price, regardless of material, the ride quality is first rate and it’s a thing of beauty. I’d like to see a frame weight a little lower than 1,600g, which would liven things up, and 28mm tyres would be a tight squeeze even though the bike is designed for them, but Condor’s superb all-rounder shows aluminium and Campagnolo at their finest.