When I built my Bob Jackson World Tour in 2011, I also had a Surly Cross Check - I sold the Surly last year as the two bikes ended up being quite similar, the Cross Check was a bit more sporty perhaps and could do rougher off road trails, but I was not using it regularly. I started looking for a lighter bike for fair weather weekend road rides, the Bob Jackson is great with traditional touring geometry and good tyre clearance, but it’s not light and very much built for all-weather commuting.
As much as forums can provide ideas, the ultimate answer to the many “which bike shall I buy” threads is obviously to get out and try as many as possible. I tried quite a number, the final short list included:
- Bob Jackson Olympus Road - obviously no opportunity to test this but given how happy I am with the World Tour, it remained an option, however I was after a more modern frame and build on this occasion.
- Genesis Equilibrium - nice bike but a very similar ride to my Bob Jackson World Tour, it felt like a very relaxed ride
- Trek Madone - amazing bike, very impressed, probably my second choice
- Giant TCR - nice but I didn’t get the wow factor, despite trying the higher end TCR Advanced SL3
Condor have a good reputation and I was very tempted by their modern steel frames, what tipped it for me was the full fitting and the outstanding service I received from Julian when I visited their shop in Gray’s Inn Road.
So the frame was ordered, a 55cm Acciaio frame with the upgraded Wave full carbon fork. The frame is always supplied with the headset fitted, I asked them to supply the frameset with the bottom bracket fitted too, the rest of the build I did myself.
The build spec was much simpler than the Bob Jackson, predominantly because I was happy to use a full groupset, in this case Shimano Ultegra 6700 in grey. I think wheels are the most important component and in my opinion there is no point second guessing the experts so a quick phone call to Harry Rowland with a chat on intended bike use ended with an order for Ambrosio Excellight rims on Ambrosio / NovaTec hubs with Sapim spokes 28 hole front, 32 rear, I think the weight is just under 1.7kg. I wanted relatively light wheels that were comfortable and capable of standing up to potholes and slightly rougher surfaces from time to time.
I originally fitted 25mm Schwalbe Ultremo ZX tyres - light (215g), grippy tyres and very comfortable, but they didn’t last suffering bad cuts very quickly, although no punctures. I replaced them with Continental GP4000s, initially in 23mm as that was all I could find, then recently 25mm - they are a slightly harsher ride than the Ultremos (and not as pretty) but seem significantly more durable with comparable grip in all conditions.
I tried a few handlebars, settling on Deda Newton Shallow bars, they are a really nice shape and seem to fit very well for me. In 44cm width they weigh about 200 grams, the matching Deda Zero 100 stem in 120mm weighs about 110 grams.
Initially I fitted the bike with a Fizik Cyrano seatpost, but despite meticulous greasing and reassembly, couldn’t solve the clicking and cracking noises so changed it for a Condor Supremacy Carbon post which has been fine. The Supremacy Carbon is a full carbon post and clamp, zero setback, weighing a mere 130grams.
Total weight excluding pedals has come in just under 8kg - not bad at all for a steel frame, more importantly it is a pleasure to ride, really comfortable and handles quickly but predictably.
Bits: I use an Arundel Dual seat bag which is one of the best I have found, I am not a fan of the wedge shaped pouches that seem most common, the Dual is smaller but because of its simple oval shape, holds plenty, in my case two tubes, patches, a small multitool and tyre lever - I use a Lezyne Road Drive pump mounted by the bottle cage on the downtube.
(Note: this article is probably a bit overdue, I built the Condor Acciaio back in Autumn last year so a couple of the component specs may have changed slightly since).