Condor Fratello

the_hundredth_idiot Posts: 813
edited January 2010 in Road beginners
I'm pretty much set on getting one of these through Bike to Work. Frustratingly, I'm only allowed to make a decision once a year in early October so I've still two months to wait.

I can spend a max of £1,000 through Bike to Work (and, realistically, I don't actually want to spend more) which brings me up to Campag Veloce or Shimano 105 groupsets. So, a few questions:

1) I'll mostly be using it to commute to work and back (approx 6-7 miles on London streets) so is there any value in getting Veloce/105 or should I save a bit of cash and get Xenon/Sora or Mirage/Tiagra? (Note how I'm carefully staying away from which is better out of Campag and Shimano :) ) I'm going for the Condor more because I fancy a classic steel-framed bike which will last years than because I'm some sort of gear-shifting speed demon. I'm also a total noob with road bikes (discounting the "racer" I had as a teenager in the 1980s which one of my friends borrowed and left behind the chip shop on a Saturday night ...) so even bottom end kit is probably better than the stuff I have on my current urban warrior.

2) What about wheels? I want something strong that can cope with the pot-holed (courtesy of our friendly, neighbourhood utility companies), speed-bumped (ditto, local council) hell that is the London road network. (Q: why don't the councils just save a bit of time and cash and pay the utility companies a little money to make an even bigger hash of filling in all the holes they dig? That'll slow us all down nicely.)

3) Is there any benefit in waiting a month or so more? That is, are 2009 models likely to come out from Condor in the same way they do for the more mass market manufacturers?

4) Any idea what the lead-in time for Fratellos is at the moment? (I know, I know, why don't I ask Condor - I will but I'm struggling to find time to get over to Grays Inn Road at the moment and, as I was posting, I thought I'd add it on to the end.)

Thanks in advance for any comments.

Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.


  • Parkey
    Parkey Posts: 303
    I don't know about the Fratello but I've got an Agio and I'm very fond of it.

    Lead time was almost exactly 6 weeks.
    "A recent study has found that, at the current rate of usage, the word 'sustainable' will be worn out by the year 2015"
  • homercles
    homercles Posts: 499
    Condor lead times are usually stated at 6 weeks but often they get the bikes out earlier - depends what frames they have in stock etc. I was told 6 weeks in the run up to Xmas 08 but had my bike inside 2 weeks.

    The 2008 bikes came out around November 2007 if I remember correctly. Think they get launched at the London Cycle Show at Earl's Court, which this year is 9-12 October. Benefit in waiting? They tend to go up about £50 a year!! Not sure how much change to the spec of the Fratello there's likely to be.

    As for kit, Campag wheels are great and very tough which would lead me towards Veloce (plus I'm generally on the Campag side of 'the divide' :roll:), but then I think you can choose Fulcrums with the 105. They're Campag to all intents and purposes. So personal pref over which type of gear operation etc you prefer probably the decider. I would certainly say with Campag at least that the Veloce stuff feels a lot better made than the Xenon/ Mirage ranges.
  • GeorgeShaw
    GeorgeShaw Posts: 764
    I've got a Fratello with Mirage/Xenon and Ventos. It's my first "real" road bike, and I got it because it looked like a good VFM all-rounder. If I didn't get serious, then I could turn it into a fast tourer. If I did, then it becomes the winter bike when I upgrade.

    I've been well impressed. I think it's about 10.5kg fully loaded, so no lightweight, but it's easily good enough for the sportives I've entered, and as I've got fitter, so my position is improving (remember, it's mostly you not the bike). So much so that I'll be taking the serious option, and I'm planning to test ride some lighter/sportier bikes shortly.

    The roads around here are strewn with pot-holes and stones, but I've found the Fratello to be both agile, comfortable and resilient. There is a bit of flex in the bottom bracket (now I just about have the power to test that) but it's not excessive. In two years and almost 10k km, all I've had to do is to tweak the gear adjusters a half turn, adjust the brakes and replace the tyres and chain when they wore out. The Ventos are completely bulletproof, not 1mm out of true, a bit aero but stable enough in cross winds. As a package, it's what it says on the tin. Not top rank, but you're not paying top rank prices. Just very solid, very versatile and great VFM.
  • Cheers, guys. I actually popped out yesterday lunchtime to go to the Condor shop on Grays Inn Road and (2 hours and a very helpful Condor employee called Rich later) I am the proud owner of a Fratello. Well, more precisely, a little slip of paper that says I paid a deposit and the bike will be along in a few weeks.

    I went for Veloce and the standard Vento wheels. The Campag levers actually felt a little more awkward than the Shimano ones (the downshift button feels in the wrong place) but I've never used either so reckoned I'd probably easily get used to it and I liked the neater look of the Campag as wires are hidden. Very technical decision, I know! :wink:

    Only slight problem is that I hadn't really meant to buy yesterday but got carried away in the heat of the moment. Not really a problem except it's still a couple of months until my Bike to Work voucher comes through. Luckily, the very helpful Rich said I could pay for the bike on my credit card and then just go in a couple of weeks later with the voucher to get my card refunded.

    The wait commences ...
    Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.
  • jeepie
    jeepie Posts: 497
    Please do post back how you get on with it as I am very interested in this machine!
  • Will do.

    What was a real pleasure compared with previous bike buying experiences was the amount of time they took to make sure the bike fits right. The guy in the shop tried various different length stems, watched me ride on the machine they have set up in the shop for fitting purposes and gave me tips on my riding posture. He was very knowledgable and took the time to discuss related issues rather than just trying to sell me the bike and move on (probably helped that I went on a weekday rather than a Saturday as I've heard it can get pretty busy on a weekend).

    In the past (albeit at a significantly cheaper part of the market), it's been more a case of jump on, check there's room between testicles and crossbar, off you go.

    Never be tempted to race against a Barclays Cycle Hire bike. If you do, there are only two outcomes. Of these, by far the better is that you now have the scalp of a Boris Bike.
  • yup - I took the plunge today and went up to the Condor shop. I am now the proud owner of a deposit slip telling me that my bike is on its way. T-6 weeks and counting. The chaps in the shop were really helpful and was very impressed.

    I went for the 105s in the end.
  • LazyBoycp
    LazyBoycp Posts: 320
    I'm looking to get a sturdy winter hack/commuter that can handle Manchester's not-so-silky-smooth roads, and have heard good things about the Fratello. Would you owners recommend it? I currently use a pretty good MTB with skinny slick tyres for my commuting.

    Part of my reasoning behind getting one is obviously because it's meant to be a good bike, but people also seem to rave about the bike fitting they do (and so could maybe give me hints on what, if anything, might improve the set-up of my Roubaix). Does anybody know if you have to book a fitting, or can you just turn up? I'll be down in Lahndahn for the bank holiday weekend (and the Friday pm, if I can be bothered getting up...) and would like to pop in. Would be thinking of getting it with 105. A 6 week lead-in would also be perfect, with it being ready just in time for (hopefully, again! :roll: ) my last ever actuarial exam and my birthday.

    Also, any other recommendations? Sorry for the thread hijack... :D
  • just show up at the store in Gray's Inn Road. Lunchtimes are an absolute nightmare as are Saturdays apparently - so if you are down on a Friday afternoon then I'd do it then. I was there this morning and it was quite quiet.

    As for recommend it? Haven't got mine yet but I got recommended it by a friend who raves about them, writes for bike magazines (so knows his beans) and has given the tip to a few of his mates.
  • So - it has been a while but I picked my Condor up today. Good ride home and fairly happy with it but obviously need to give it a while before I can really sing its praises. Really like the retro looks - although aching a bit from the positioning (more down to never having riden a road bike as my current is a hybrid)...
  • giant_man
    giant_man Posts: 6,878
    The new colours are way better than last year, the orange particularly. Lovely with black accessories.
  • Hi Spencer,

    I am really interested in how you get on with the Fratello, as I am planning to buy the bike in a month or so (busy accumulating funds now :lol: ).

    Like you, I currently have a straight bar hybrid and never ridden drops before :roll: but having lots fun doing distance riding 75 - 100km and am told by my betters that drops are the way to go!

  • So...not quite got the hang of the drops yet. Because my position has shifted forwards and now my arms bear some weight, I do get sore forearms. Also I tend to shift about a little bit on my position in order to relieve it. I am sure that will go though.

    I suffer a sore back and expected the new position to give my grief but so far so good. The gear shifting takes a little getting used to as does the braking but overall nothing too tricky.

    Now for the good stuff.... I really like it all. The bike seems a lot more responsive and quicker. Not sure it is making much difference to my times yet however I seem to be doing it in a lot less effort and with a bigger smile on my face and I suppose at the end of the day that is what counts.

    Loving it and can't wait to get back on it in the morning....
  • huuregeil
    huuregeil Posts: 780
    spencer_uk wrote:
    So...not quite got the hang of the drops yet. Because my position has shifted forwards and now my arms bear some weight, I do get sore forearms. Also I tend to shift about a little bit on my position in order to relieve it. I am sure that will go though.

    You might consider moving your saddle back a little, and possibly shortening the stem a little to suit. Or raise the bars a little. Either way, very little weight should go through your arms and if your forearms are sore then this is a sign that your position isn't quite right.
  • Spencer,

    Thanks for the update, more if possible, I just luv reading about the bike I want to get!.

    A few questions if I may..

    Regarding the aches, did the shop spend a lot of time with you sizing the bike on their jig thing? I have been to the shop and seen them talking issues through with potential purchasers, were they helpful to you?

    What specification did you get? I am thinking of going all in with my money and getting the Campag Centaur set-up with a 13-29 cassette to help me when climbing. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this, is it worth the upgrade from Veloce?

    The good thing is Condor give you a lot of options for the bike, the bad thing is having to make decisions LOL.

  • I started commuting on a Fratello about 18 months ago and do around 75 miles a week. The frame is excellent and feels very comfortable across rural potholes.The Campag Veloce bits are OK but the bottom bracket is beginning to go. The mudguards are the best thing ever in the rain and the panniers make life much more comfortable on hot days.

    I didn't get the opportunity to get measured on their rig when I bought the bike. On a recent visit to London I went to the shop to see if they would take the measurements for future reference. I gather this takes a long time and was made to feel stupid for asking.

    Bikes are selling like hotcakes at the moment and I guess they don't need my custom in future.
  • Headhuunter
    Headhuunter Posts: 6,494
    Yes, service can be a bit hit and miss at Condor. Some of the staff certainly know their stuff, I talked to a really helpful chap about tyres and he went through the pros and cons of Armadillo vs GP4000 etc etc. I was toying with buying a bike there a while back and they were very helpful, offered to get me on the sizing jig etc and were even mentioning discounts if I went for the upgraded wheels etc.

    But other times I've been in for replacement spokes and asked if they could measure up the right size for me. Despite this on a several occasions I've been sold the wrong size spoke, despite the staff seeming to take painstakingly long to measure the spokes up. Also the price seems to vary depending on which member of staff you get - sometimes as little as 50p for a double butted, stainless spoke, sometimes £1.50 ( :shock: ) for a single spoke!!!

    Last time I went in for a spoke I told the guy that the spoke that had gone was on the drive side of the rear wheel and he started to measure up the non-drive side. I told him that spokes are different lengths on the drive and non drive sides and he claimed that no, they were the same length!!! I wouldn't have been suprised if that had happened at Halfords but shocking lack of knowledge for a "professional" shop like Condor,
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