Sunday, October 30, 2011

Tifosi CK1 review

Tifosi's simple but effective frame is firm enough to be a hit for racing, whether that's weekend cyclo-cross events or weekday traffic contests. Campagnolo cockpit comfort and impressively sharp braking are standout highlights too.

  • Highs: Long, low position and firm feel will suit competitive riders, and the Campagnolo ergopower levers and sharp brakes add comfort and control
  • Lows: The plain frame isn't particularly light or comfortable, steering is stable rather than snappy and the tyres aren't as grippy as they look
  • Buy if: You want a Campag-equipped, traditionally shaped and firm-feeling cyclo-crosser with added day-to-day versatility

The monochrome paintjob of the CK1 is a suitably straightforward coat for a frame that's definitely a proven workhorse rather than the latest in luxury design. Frame and fork weight are on the sturdy side (1,720g and 850g, respectively), but alignment is good. The ample mud room you get, plus the fact that all the control cables are routed along the top tube away from winter filth, mean it'll stay working.

No frills is the overriding first impression we got of the CK1, with a blunt and direct approach to whatever you're heading over. Add a long stem to a frame that's already relatively long and low, and even with a big stack of washers to raise the bar it stretches you into a position that's more orientated towards competition than comfort.

While the frame angles are naturally neutral, the long stem and wheelbase mean that the handling is as speed-focused as the riding position. That means an 'aim carefully and then carve it' approach to corners, rather than a more responsive feel that you can trim to suit traction.

The mid-volume Vittoria Cross tyres highlight the frame's direct feel, and while they look grippy, we had to learn to trust the tread after some sketchy wet trail moments early on. A firm frame feel and direct power delivery meant we had to feather traction on steep or loose surfaces when cornering or climbing, on and off road, to stop the bike skipping.

The tyres roll well, though, and the Campagnolo Khamsin CX wheels add distinctive triple-spoke grouping and high-quality bearing reliability to the mix. The comfortable shape of the Campagnolo Ergopower levers was praised by all our testers.  The narrower neck makes them much easier to hang onto when you're pushing the off-piste limits.

The Tifosi brakes were well liked too, with a sharp bite that snatched control back from the brink numerous times in the woods. The bike's ready for full mudguards and a rear rack. Overall, the CK1 is alive enough to make a decent winter training partner or local 'cross league steed that'll also carry your sandwiches to work.

A compact double puts most hills in reach of most riders: a compact double puts most hills in reach of most riders

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.



Hat Tip To: BikeRadar.com Road Bikes & Gear

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