Being British Road Race Champ does have its perks, especially around Tour of Britain time, as Rapha Condor's Kristian House found out yesterday when he was given a brand new bike for the race.
As you'd expect, Rapha Condor ride Condor bikes, and this year they are on fully customised prototype Condor Leggero's made from high modulus carbon, all put together by hand in Italy. Nice.
Kristian's new bike reflects his status as the current national champion with a smart set of stripes in the national colours running along the top tube, which should make him easy to identify as the peloton sweeps by. Aside from the natty paint job the new bike trials a few other modifications too including a newer more compliant back end and carbon dropouts.
Standard kit on the Raphp Condor team bike is a Dura Ace 7900 groupset matched up to a Shimano Carbon deep section wheelset shod with Continental Grand Prix tyres, while the cockpit comprises Deda Elementi Newton handlebars and a Zero 100 Service Corse stem.
Finishing kit is a Fizik Arione saddle, custom made for the team, Fizik pro edition bar tape, Condor Anniversary Carbon Seatpost 31.6mm and Condor Anniversary Carbon 1 1/8th Integrated Headset. As is the fashion, this is asymetric, going from 1 1/8 at the top to 1 1/2 at the bottom for added stiffness and strength. The fork is a carbon monocoque.
Talking to road.cc Neil Manning from Condor explains the company's approach to producing the bikes that House and his teamates ride:
"The team bikes have changed a lot over the past few years, but have developed significantly with the help of riders like Chris Newton, Kristian House and Dean Downing.
"All of these riders are particular about their machines, well they should be as seasoned pros they are the tools of their trade. Chris Newton has been helping with our track and Time Trial models, Dean on the criterium side and Kristian has been giving feedback on our race bikes. Input from the teams has been used to make subtle changes to a few of our race models and it's made a real difference.
"The standard team Leggero is made from individual high modulus carbon tubes so they can be built to each riders preferences. A lot of pro riders tend to have longer frames with lower front ends so a standard set-up can be used, but is not always the most efficient for the individual. We use tubes supplied by Dedacciai and from our builder in Italy who has his own exclusive Italian produced carbon. This year's Leggero is much stiffer than last seasons with a 1 1/2" bottom head race and oversized downtube. This has been great for Dean in the crit series, especially when sprinting.
For riders like Kristian and Ben Greenwood we needed to come up with something a little less stiff at the rear so Kristian has been trialling a new back end that has been trimmed down and is now fitted with full carbon dropouts. He has just received a new version so has two prototypes for the Tour of Britain, the second having a few extra modifications from the first. The advantage of hand making each frame is that as well as being able to varying the tubes used we can layer up the carbon for extra stiffness where needed depending what the rider wants from the frame.
We are now working on two new versions, one with internal brake and gear cables and the other being specific for the Shimano 7900 Di2 groupset that the team will be racing on next season. Having the frames built in Italy means we can be at the factory pretty often to discuss the modifications and test the frames in testing rig."
Kristian will be in action on his bike all this week (hopefully) during the Tour of Britain - so keep an eye out for those distinctive stripes and give the national champion a cheer as he goes by.
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.