Wednesday, 25 May 2016


I picked up the new Condor Leggero last Saturday and took it for its first coffee stop, even before the pedals had been fitted. I've ordered some (hopefully) matching blue and yellow Keo Max pedals from Italy, which haven't arrived yet. 

A Julian Cunnington bike fit was part of the deal

With pedals, a 16g bottle cage, and no saddle bag the Leggero weighs around 7.8 kgs
 I'm going to swap my Mavic SLS wheel for the Élites, a slight upgrade

So the big question: What's it like to ride?

To find out I headed off on a ride to Box Hill via Richmond Park and Esher, a trip that I'd completed a couple of times in recent weeks on the Enigma.
So I headed off through Battersea at warm up pace, and right away I noticed how smooth the ride was.But it wasn't until I approached Richmond Park along the rough section of Danebury Avenue that I realised just how smooth. 
I've graded every bike I've ever owned over that strip of low budget, buzzy Tarmac.
The pre-Leggero results:

1. Enigma Étape
2. Vitus 979
3. Rossin Record
4. The rest

I'd almost finished cycling over this rough road surface when I realised where I was. I actually hadn't even noticed it. 
So that was one box well and truly ticked. The Leggero moved into first place.
This is a bike with 'race geometry', but as you can see from the photos, I had spacers stacked under the stem to give me a relatively relaxed riding position, with the hope to gradually remove at least some of them.
I headed out on my route through Kingston and Hampton Court, to Epsom via Sandown Park. I glanced at the Garmin at the hour mark. 25 kms/hr, nicely up on my average. 
And no stiff arms, shoulders or back.

On arriving at the Box Hill café (just under 50Kms in just over two hours) I bumped into James from Condor who greeted me with "I recognise that bike!"

After cake and coffee I headed back down Box Hill, retracing my route home. Right after Box Hill railway station there's Bagden Hill which touches 17%, offering a nice little climbing test.

Disgracefully, after 90Kms, I fell apart in Richmond Park, requiring an emergency stop at the café for lunch. I clearly need to up my mileage.

But the good news is that despite my inadequacies this was clearly the best bike I've ridden. The stiffest for sure; as comfortable as the very comfortable Synapse, and smoother than the super smooth Enigma. It felt really quick too, but to test that I needed to load the ride onto Strava.

Whenever I buy a new bike the predominant feelings I experience are those of guilt and doubt. 

Will it be any good? Will it be worth the money? Have I messed up again!?

So after the ride I knew the Leggero was comfortable and smooth. And it felt fast.
I was hoping to have set a few personal bests on a course that I had 'attacked' just seven days earlier. Praying might be more accurate than hoping.
But I really wasn't expected 54 PBs.
Up Bagden Hill I clocked a pretty slow 6.17, but this was a whole minute faster than my previous week's effort.
Considering how I had crawled home from Richmond Park my average speed of 23.6 kms/hr was decent for me, up from 21.8 the week before when I rode a much shorter route.

But bike riding is about much more than times and segments and data. It's about how you feel on the bike and how the bike looks when it's propped up against a wall while you sip your well earned coffee or tea.
And this Condor Leggero ticks every box for me. 
I have to say, I love it, and I can't wait to get out on it again. And that's the ultimate sign that you've bought the right bike. 
And yes it's nice to go a bit faster.

If all goes as well as I hope, I intend to keep this bike for as long as possible. 
I can have it resprayed in the same livery if it gets too tatty. 
I can upgrade to Dura-Ace eventually.
And maybe get some Mavic Cosmic Carbones to add some extra bling.

And you don't see too many of them around, which for me is a real bonus.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016


Last year I bought my first pair of upmarket bibshorts. I´d been struggling on longer rides and thought maybe a decent pair of shorts might make all the difference. And with L´Éroica coming up I went for this pair of Vélobicci ´Victor´ bibs.
P.S. Not modelled by me obviously.

So I set off for a ride (L´Éroica) a few days later on the the Vitus 979, and about half way through  realised that I hadn´t even noticed the saddle. Now this was a first. Normally by this time I'm spending half the time out of the saddle trying to give my rear end a rest. Wow, I thought, the shorts are amazing - my worries are over!

But only a few days later I wore the same bibs on the Enigma with its Fizik Aliante, and the difference was far less marked. An improvement perhaps, but not the magic carpet ride I´d experienced on the Vitus.

So I assumed it must be the saddle. For the Vitus I bought a beaten up old Brooks Swift on eBay for about thirty five quid.

I´m not sure how old this Swift is. On the Brooks website they say the Swift is ´the youngest gentleman's racing saddle in the Brooks range´, and ´On introduction the Swift was offered only with lightweight titanium rails. However, due to popular demand, since 2008 we also offer the Swift Chrome, with traditional steel underpinnings, finished to our usual high standards with bright polished chromium plate.´

But this saddle looks way older than that, unless it was used every day since 2008?
Maybe it was.

So anyway, I was lucky enough to be offered a titanium railed Swift at a special tester price. 
And it´s now on my comuting bike (the Surly Crosscheck) getting broken in.

It´s a decent 384 grams on my kitchen scales, the lightest saddle in the Brooks range I believe.
So far, as you'd expect with a new leather saddle, it´s nowhere near as comfortable as the ´vintage´ Swift, but is already improving with use.

So with bikes getting lighter and lighter it'd be perfectly possibly to have a Brooks on your super light road bike and still be under the UCI's 6.8Kgs minimum. 

Below are some other classic or well known saddles and their weights. 

The Turbo was considered lightweight back in the day....

Above: The trusty Brooks Professional from my commuting bike.
Weighty, but comfortable!

Monday, 18 April 2016


So eighteen months ago my Enigma Étape became my only road bike (unless you include the vintage Vitus 979), a well intentioned attempt to reduce the number of bikes littering the house.
And the bike certainly hasn't let me down. It´s been great.
However... there now follows a lists of reasons (excuses) to buy a new summer bike...

1. Hiring lighter bikes while on holiday has left me with the feeling that I´m ´missing out´.
2. I´m 60 in September and (the following statement is, believe it or not, true), my wife suggested that I buy a new bike as a birthday present to myself.
3. The Enigma weighs just over 9Kgs with mudguards/fenders. It wasn't supposed to. According to the component manufacturers' quoted weights, it should have been in the lower regions of 7Kgs

[More about this subject some other time. It makes me cross.]
4. New bikes are good.
5. Buying new bikes is good for the economy.

So I've been looking for something a bit like the Canondale Synapse Ultegra that I've been using on holiday in Gran Canaria. It's quite light. It's pretty comfortable. It matches my cycling jersey.
Or possibly something a bit more upmarket. Which would please my pal Nick 'Angry' Von Vader who seems to hate all bikes with less than a £4K price tag.
That might be because he's a bicycle mechanic.
It might also be because he likes to see me spending my money.

So rather than the 'ordinary' carbon Synapse Ultegra, I looked at the Canondale Synapse hi-mod Dura-Ace.
Or, there´s the Trek Émonda SL 6 2016 £1800 7.7kg (despite average wheels).
There´s the Fuji SL 1.5 2016 6.4kg (light but too too racy for me?)
Or how about the Orbea Orca M20 £2,399 7.8kgs (despite average wheels)?

Nick of course recommended nothing under about five grand. The cheapest frame was about £3,500. 
We can only dream. He suggested this lugged Colnago C60 special edition costing about £12,000, so way out of my league. But stunning.

Anyway, I work a hundred or so yards from Condor cycles and have previous owned an Acciaio (my first road bike), and often wander around in the basement keeping my eye on the latest models. (And the sale prices).
To be honest, I´ve always thought they´re ever so slightly out of my league, and have normally ended up being seduced by the idea of the ´better value´ offered by internet or mail order manufacturers like Canyon or Ribble. With mixed results.
But one Condor that leapt out at me a year or so back was the Leggero limited edition in blue and ´limone´, the frame manufactured in Italy using carbon from japan, and really rather beautiful. I tweeted a photo of it (@elprezcyclismo) saying it was one of the prettiest bikes around, and received more retweets that for any of my other cycling tweets.

So I popped in recently to look at helmets, and found myself drifting down to the basement to look at wheels, as you do. Condor´s Julian Cunnington and I were talking about my Mavic Kysyriums SLS set, and mentioned that their baby brother Élites were part of a special offer Leggero package. The frame retailed at £2,500 and yet the entire bike was available for £2,999.00 with the Élite wheels, a full Ultegra groupset, and Fizik finishing kit and saddle. 

And I´ve only heard good things about the Leggero.
Well, the next thing I knew I was on the bike fit rig, and now I´m sorted. There´s now a five week wait. So it should be ready just in time for summer.

The Enigma Étape will sit there quite happily as a classy winter bike, and I´m almost 100% certain that´ll be the case for many years to come. It´s around 8.6Kgs without guards, which is a bit heavy to be a proper summer bike. Oddly, it was 8.5 WITH guards last time I weighed it (!). And when I selected the components for the bike I took into account the claimed weight of each part. It should have been under 7.5Kgs. Bit disappointing that, component manufacturers!
Anyway, I'll certainly never need to buy a touring bike or another wonter bike.


Now do I need a set of Zipps 404s? Or are Cosmic Carbones better value? Or stick with the SLS wheels (I´ll put the Élites on the Enigma). Decisions, decisions...