This article originally appeared on Bikeradar.
The Rapha-Condor-JLT 2013 team was launched today and alongside Ed Clancy’s Olympic gold medals and the fresh-faced team of youngsters were the squad’s flagship carbon and steel bikes. Yes, just like Madison-Genesis, some of the Rapha boys will be racing on steel this year.
Senior riders Kristian House and Clancy’s Campagnolo Super Record EPS-equipped carbon Condor Leggero bikes occupied the principal displays at insurance broker JLT’s central London HQ. But under the stairs, steel-convert James McCallum’s custom built Super Acciaio garnered plenty of attention too.
The classically-styled bike the Scot will pilot in this year has evolved further from his 2012 model. The geometry has been refined for the season’s upcoming criteriums and circuit races and the rear hanger modified after some issues changing wheels last year. We’re also told it’s 200-300g lighter. A painted 55cm model currently weighs a claimed 1,600g compared to a 1,100g Leggero.
McCallum said he favoured his steel bike over the Leggero thanks to its smoother ride quality over varying road surfaces on the UK criterium scene. “We’re hardly riding on glass all the time,” he explained.
McCallum waxed lyrical about the stiffness of the front end thanks to the tapered steerer tube and deda 35 stem and bars: mccallum waxed lyrical about the stiffness of the front end thanks to the tapered steerer tube and deda 35 stem and bars
Neil Manning, Condor’s production director, said it had taken somewhere between “ten and fifteen variants to get to” McCallum’s current Super Acciaio, with countless other trial frames back at the warehouse. The overall aim he said was the recreate the carbon Leggero in steel.
He said: “The last thing you want from the rider’s point of view is to have two bikes with different set ups. They only have to be slightly different and the rider’s going to feel it. That’s the good thing about being able to build custom frames in steel and carbon - we can custom fit all the riders.”
He added: “You see a lot of riders on monocoque frames and they can’t get them to fit – they’re using negative riser stems, or they’re taking the top cap off that just looks wrong.”
Traits the Leggero and Super Acciaio share include a tapered steerer tube for plenty of rigidity upfront and an oversized bottom bracket to aid power transmission. McCallum also compared the elegantly narrow seatstays to those on a Cervélo R3, which should aid the quest for a plusher ride.
Manning was careful about future plans for the Super Acciaio, which is a big seller for the London-based company, saying the current bike was “perfect”. He hinted further refinements could be in the pipeline however.
“At the moment we think it’s perfect, but there maybe some changes,” he said. “Some of that could come down to aesthetics – the shapes of the tubes may change slightly. I’ve got something in mind that I want."
“We work closely with all the tubing manufactures. Even if we can improve one tube it can make a difference. It’s about what’s right for that bike and who can supply what we need.”