Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

For discussions about bikes and equipment.
garibaldi
Posts: 20
Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 7:30pm

Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby garibaldi » 17 Nov 2018, 11:44am

Hi all,

I've been lurking the forum for a few years but finally decided to join and ask the help of all you knowledge folks. (Apologies if this is the wrong section for such post and feel free to move it to where it belongs)

I'm in the market for a new bike to rule them all. It will be my main bike for daily sort-ish rides but comfort is paramount as it will be my weapon of choice for tackling Audaxes as well as some light touring (possibly in the Alps & Europe in general).

After quite a bit of research and a few test rides I've short listed the Condor Fratello and the Spa Audax (inclined towards the Ti version) but can't seem to make a decision between the two!

I've tried both bikes, albeit not back to back (that would make for a very helpful test) as their respective shops are a fair distance from each other... A can't fault any of the two on geometry and comfort. The Fratello is prettier but I love the minimal looks and low maintenance aspect of Ti finishing. I would say the Fratello has perhaps a more forgiving ride over rough surfaces and the Spa felt livelier with a slightly sportier geometry but there really isn't much to it in my view. Plus, how do I know these small differences are down to geometry a not things like different tyres, saddle, etc? :?

I know no one can make this decision for me but any input is highly appreciated!

Is there any reason not to go for any of the two?

Many thanks!

User avatar
Gattonero
Posts: 3317
Joined: 31 Jan 2016, 1:35pm
Location: London
Contact:

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby Gattonero » 17 Nov 2018, 12:46pm

I have a custom Fratello and use it almost every day, it's my go-to bike because it's versatile.
Having quite a few other bikes, and tried countless ones, the Fratello has one thing that makes it very good as an "everyday" bike for me: has a neutral and surefooted handling, yet can be nippy if you want to.
it's a bike I can ride for many hours in any weather, it's built with pretty standard stuff: mix of Chorus/Centaur 10sp, Open Pro onto Miche and SON hubs, Ritchey silver bars/stem/post and Cambium saddle.
It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best,
since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.
Thus you remember them as they actually are...

PH
Posts: 6324
Joined: 21 Jan 2007, 12:31am
Location: Derby
Contact:

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby PH » 17 Nov 2018, 1:24pm

Both fine bikes I'm sure, I know owners of both and they're happy with them.
I have nothing to contribute that might help you choose between them. But I ride a few Audax and the traditional Audax bike, as these two are, has become far less common than it was a few years ago. My observation is that riders are either choosing something far more at the road bike end of the spectrum (Slightly relaxed geometry, compact gearing and most likely carbon) or something that takes wider tyres (Most likely described as a Gravel or Adventure bike) As an example, in the last year I've seen more Spa Elan than Spa Audax and if I were in the market then riding them side by side would be on my list.
I recently sold my "Audax" bike, a SOMA ES which I think would be a match for either on your shortlist. There was nothing wrong with it, I just had too many bikes. I moved many of the components over to my Hewitt Cheviot SE, there's been a slight weight penalty doing so, but the advantage of being able to use wider tyres* is an advantage, my riding speeds are comparable (Though I'm not a fast rider) What suites one might not another of course, how you ride, your weight and size, where you ride will all be considerations, but for me I'll never have another bike that won't take at least 32mm tyres.

* can take doesn't mean it has to! it's currently running the same tyres that were on the SOMA, the difference this time of year is I don't have to stop and clear the mud from under the guards after a few miles of mucky lanes.

Bonefishblues
Posts: 5113
Joined: 7 Jul 2014, 9:45pm
Location: Near Bicester Oxon

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby Bonefishblues » 17 Nov 2018, 1:31pm

garibaldi wrote:I've tried both bikes, albeit not back to back (that would make for a very helpful test) as their respective shops are a fair distance from each other...

Spa positively encourage long test rides - tell 'em you'll be back in a week as you're popping down to that there London Village :lol:

slowster
Posts: 435
Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby slowster » 17 Nov 2018, 1:59pm

garibaldi wrote:it will be my weapon of choice for tackling Audaxes as well as some light touring (possibly in the Alps & Europe in general).

What gearing would you want/need? One of the standard Spa Ti Audax versions comes with a 105 triple, and presumably that would similarly be an option for the Fratello. Would the 30t inner of the Shimano triple be small enough for your requirements/preferences? I seem to recall past threads on here where people have wanted to reduce the gearing below what is possible/practical with a standard Shimano triple, something which Spa might be better able to accommodate with their wide range of chainsets.

If the standard builds of the Fratello and the Spa both suited you, then I suspect that the choice might come down simply to whichever bike appealed to you more. In contrast, the more your own particular requirements and preferences might differ from the standard specifications, the more I suspect that Spa would be better able to provide what you want, e.g. lower gearing as above, handbuilt wheels with H Plus or Kinlin rims etc. etc.

Brucey
Posts: 31989
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby Brucey » 17 Nov 2018, 4:21pm

if it comes down to a coin toss, I'd probably take whichever one offered the best mudguard clearances for my particular intended use.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

yostumpy
Posts: 571
Joined: 29 Oct 2010, 6:56pm

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby yostumpy » 17 Nov 2018, 5:07pm

I know every one wants to own a Titanium bike nowdays, but to me they always looks dull as chalk, a lifeless corpse of a bike. I like to sit a look at my bike mid ride or on return , with a mug of tea, and think, that IS nice, I would hate to sit and stare at a battleship grey corpse, might depress me. When I bought my Bob Jackson (RIP) 4 1/2 year ago, it was a choice, for me, of a BJ or Fratello. When the BJ was written off, I didn't go for the Fratello, or BJ rebuilt, as I wanted ONE bike to do all things. hence my disk braked tourer with good clearance with bigger tyres, for Ruff Stuff. Given to OP's choice, I would go Fretello disk.

fastpedaller
Posts: 1712
Joined: 10 Jul 2014, 1:12pm
Location: Norfolk

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby fastpedaller » 17 Nov 2018, 5:33pm

yostumpy wrote:I know every one wants to own a Titanium bike nowdays

No.... I (for one) don't hanker after a Ti bike. The reduction in weight (300g?) is small (to me) compared with the risk of frame cracking. I don't think rust is a problem with a steel frame to bother about the rustless properties of Ti either.

garibaldi
Posts: 20
Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 7:30pm

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby garibaldi » 17 Nov 2018, 5:40pm

PH wrote:Both fine bikes I'm sure, I know owners of both and they're happy with them.
I have nothing to contribute that might help you choose between them. But I ride a few Audax and the traditional Audax bike, as these two are, has become far less common than it was a few years ago. My observation is that riders are either choosing something far more at the road bike end of the spectrum (Slightly relaxed geometry, compact gearing and most likely carbon) or something that takes wider tyres (Most likely described as a Gravel or Adventure bike) As an example, in the last year I've seen more Spa Elan than Spa Audax and if I were in the market then riding them side by side would be on my list.
I recently sold my "Audax" bike, a SOMA ES which I think would be a match for either on your shortlist. There was nothing wrong with it, I just had too many bikes. I moved many of the components over to my Hewitt Cheviot SE, there's been a slight weight penalty doing so, but the advantage of being able to use wider tyres* is an advantage, my riding speeds are comparable (Though I'm not a fast rider) What suites one might not another of course, how you ride, your weight and size, where you ride will all be considerations, but for me I'll never have another bike that won't take at least 32mm tyres.

* can take doesn't mean it has to! it's currently running the same tyres that were on the SOMA, the difference this time of year is I don't have to stop and clear the mud from under the guards after a few miles of mucky lanes.


I have looked at quite a few of what they now call Adventure bikes but none seemed to meet my needs (e.g. no rack mounts) and/or were way over my budget.

The Spa Elan looks like a wonderful bike and I would also be interested in riding it side by side with the Audax. However, I don't think I can justify the extra 400-odd quid it would cost me. Disc brakes can be nice but not essential (the Fratello also has a disc version which I haven't ruled out just yet) and seeing 99% of my riding will be on tarmac I don't see the need to go over 28mm tyres.

garibaldi
Posts: 20
Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 7:30pm

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby garibaldi » 17 Nov 2018, 5:48pm

slowster wrote:
garibaldi wrote:it will be my weapon of choice for tackling Audaxes as well as some light touring (possibly in the Alps & Europe in general).

What gearing would you want/need? One of the standard Spa Ti Audax versions comes with a 105 triple, and presumably that would similarly be an option for the Fratello. Would the 30t inner of the Shimano triple be small enough for your requirements/preferences? I seem to recall past threads on here where people have wanted to reduce the gearing below what is possible/practical with a standard Shimano triple, something which Spa might be better able to accommodate with their wide range of chainsets.

If the standard builds of the Fratello and the Spa both suited you, then I suspect that the choice might come down simply to whichever bike appealed to you more. In contrast, the more your own particular requirements and preferences might differ from the standard specifications, the more I suspect that Spa would be better able to provide what you want, e.g. lower gearing as above, handbuilt wheels with H Plus or Kinlin rims etc. etc.


Unless I'm missing something, both bikes are highly customisable. Condor can build with whatever gearing requirements might have and they also offer handbuild wheels.

To be honest I think a compact with the right ratios would be enough for most of my riding.

garibaldi
Posts: 20
Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 7:30pm

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby garibaldi » 17 Nov 2018, 6:00pm

Brucey wrote:if it comes down to a coin toss, I'd probably take whichever one offered the best mudguard clearances for my particular intended use.

cheers


There doesn't seem to be much difference in mudguard clearances either. Both claim 28mm tyres with full mudguards and that would be enough for me. However, I've heard reports of the Spa having too tight clearances with this set-up which can be a problem on muddy lanes (not sure if design has been update since). Haven't heard of such problems on the Condor but that's not to say they don't exist.

Thanks

pwa
Posts: 8645
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby pwa » 17 Nov 2018, 6:04pm

garibaldi wrote:
Brucey wrote:if it comes down to a coin toss, I'd probably take whichever one offered the best mudguard clearances for my particular intended use.

cheers


There doesn't seem to be much difference in mudguard clearances either. Both claim 28mm tyres with full mudguards and that would be enough for me. However, I've heard reports of the Spa having too tight clearances with this set-up which can be a problem on muddy lanes (not sure if design has been update since). Haven't heard of such problems on the Condor but that's not to say they don't exist.

Thanks

Yes, I tried 28mm with my Spa Ti Audax and it was a bit too tight at the back. It got clogged too easily on muddy lanes. 25mm works much better. Which suits me fine as I was in two minds as to which of those two sizes I preferred.

I would not assume Condor are any better in this regard. The only images of the rim brake Fratello I've seen show brake blocks not at the bottom of the caliper slot, meaning the tyre is closer to the mudguard than is ideal.

garibaldi
Posts: 20
Joined: 16 Nov 2018, 7:30pm

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby garibaldi » 17 Nov 2018, 6:13pm

fastpedaller wrote:
yostumpy wrote:I know every one wants to own a Titanium bike nowdays

No.... I (for one) don't hanker after a Ti bike. The reduction in weight (300g?) is small (to me) compared with the risk of frame cracking. I don't think rust is a problem with a steel frame to bother about the rustless properties of Ti either.


It's not that I want a titanium bike. I didn't really have my mind set on any frame material, I just preferred the handling and smoothness of the Ti Audax over the Steel version but there really isn't much in it. I'm also not overly concerned about weight, certainly not on this type of bike, but it can be a plus point when thinking about climbs.

Spa offer 10 year warranty on Ti frames so if I happen to be one of the few unlucky and my frame does crack I'm pretty sure Spa would replace under warranty.

jerg
Posts: 12
Joined: 13 Oct 2018, 8:29pm

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby jerg » 17 Nov 2018, 6:37pm

What gearing would you want/need? One of the standard Spa Ti Audax versions comes with a 105 triple, and presumably that would similarly be an option for the Fratello. Would the 30t inner of the Shimano triple be small enough for your requirements/preferences? I seem to recall past threads on here where people have wanted to reduce the gearing below what is possible/practical with a standard Shimano triple


Spa do a nice 26T chain ring which can replace the 30T inner ring on a 105 triple. I'm running 26/39/50 with no problems.

De Sisti
Posts: 625
Joined: 17 Jun 2007, 6:03pm

Re: Condor Fratello / Spa Audax (Ti) for Audax & light touring

Postby De Sisti » 17 Nov 2018, 7:30pm

jerg wrote:
What gearing would you want/need? One of the standard Spa Ti Audax versions comes with a 105 triple, and presumably that would similarly be an option for the Fratello. Would the 30t inner of the Shimano triple be small enough for your requirements/preferences? I seem to recall past threads on here where people have wanted to reduce the gearing below what is possible/practical with a standard Shimano triple


Spa do a nice 26T chain ring which can replace the 30T inner ring on a 105 triple. I'm running 26/39/50 with no problems.

Spa Audax with custom Stronglight chainset (46/34/24).

Image