My late father owned a Condor and there is an old and tatty photo somewhere of him, perhaps in the 1950's standing outside their shop - which I don't think was its current location but I could be wrong - proudly holding his new bicycle.
Yesterday was the day I had set aside to go to Condor Cycles. Before this I had arranged to meet David at Hyde Park Corner who was buying the rear wheel that I had taken off my Titanium Orange Brompton. After chewing the fat for a short while - as David was on his way to work - I walked to the home of Condor Cycles on, Gray's Inn Road.
The walk was enjoyable and I was conscious of the huge numbers of cyclists out and about on their way to work. Soon I arrived at the shop as getting there not long after its 08:00 opening time, I more or less had there place to myself.
Going downstairs I had a look at all the lovely bicycles and wondered whether I was doing the right thing? I looked specifically for their 'Fratello Disc' bicycle. This particular bike I have coveted from afar for several months. In fact a couple of very nice chaps based in London each owning this bicycle contacted me a few weeks ago to arrange a meet up at Richmond Park so that I could have a test run on one of theirs. Going round very familiar territory on this bike I was struck at how much easier it was to maintain a higher speed but not work as hard. Equally hill climbing was easier too and I wondered how it was that I have been able to take the scalps of many a roadie on my Brompton in the past? Against this I wouldn't stand much of a chance.
Racked up were a few of the bikes I was interested in. They only come in two stock colours - Paris Green and Deep Purple. Taking it off the rack I weighed it up. The Fratello Disc is not an ultra light carbon number but Condor's flagship steel frame. It is a bit of a Jack of all trades and happy commuting, fast tourer, audaxing or even the odd sportive. I estimated that it was lighter than my Titanium Orange Brompton, but not by a huge amount.
|The Paris Green Condor Fratello Disc|
I was soon greeted by Angel who was to guide me through the whole process. I had come to place an order rather than just look. A test run was offered so after leaving ID and credit card with the shop staff, the saddle adjusted and tyres pumped, I was out onto Gray's Inn Road with one of their bikes.
The only test bike in my size available that was close to the one I was interested in was the standard Fratello which does not have disc brakes. I had intended to literally go up the road and back but these plans were dashed as I found myself enjoying the whole experience. The bike was great and it felt really comfortable. The gear selection took a little getting used to however I was much the same with my Brompton. After a few minutes I got it and was enjoying the rapid gear choices.
|The test bicycle|
Coming back in the shop with a big smile on my face we went downstairs for the fitting. If you buy a bike from Condor the bike fitting is included in the price. This was great as it was very comprehensive to say the least.
Like a good tailor, Angel had already surmised that I needed a 58cm frame after a quick glance at me the second he set eyes on me. Having brought my SPD shoes I put them on and was taken over to the fitting jig where all sorts of measurements were taken. These are the main ones:
- Saddle height and position
- Cleat position
- Handlebar stem length
- Stack height and reach
- Bar width
Once the measurements were taken we sat down and Angel went through every conceivable option, explaining each one. He was very good at his job and from my admission that I had only ever owned a Brompton and a mountain bike 25 years ago, made sure I understood everything before moving on to the next component. This took about an hour but the time went by in a flash.
Things ground to a halt when colour was mentioned. I actually liked both stock colours but there was the option of orange. I deliberated over this for a few moments. There is a reason why orange is of significance and a concluded that I didn't want this bike to be orange. In truth I just liked the Paris Green colour too much.
It was all done. With my deposit paid I was informed that my Condor bicycle would hopefully be ready for collection in about 6 weeks - perhaps earlier.
I hear many of you saying that I should have gone for a carbon bike or a different brand or another Brompton. Well, for me this is the right choice. I have written that I doubt if I will buy another Brompton - I do own two after all. This will mark a new chapter in my cycling journey. I won't be going any further. I wont't be cycling with different people - I will be doing so with the same lovely people I have cycled with for the past five years. If there are any differences it is the possibility of going further in a shorter span of time. Being able to maintain slightly higher average speeds. Perhaps most importantly, doing all this with a little more comfort and less strain being placed on my body. (The change to ascend hills faster than I can on my Brompton does appeal naturally).
I have to say I am rather pleased at my purchase and certain that collecting this bicycle will be a gleeful moment. For me, this is the right bicycle at the right time and although I will not use it all every day, it will be fun when it comes out to play. I can't wait!