Fondriest TF2 1.0 - Bike Soup Review July 2012

The Fondriest name has adorned bike frames since 1993, the same year that company founder Maurizio Fondriest was riding a Colnago Carbitubo for the Lampre team. For the first few years the frames were made by artisan Italian manufacturers, Viner and Billato. The cycle company began to really take off properly when Fondriest retired in 1998 after a very successful pro-racing career that included wins on the Milan-San Remo as well as Fleche-Wallonne and Tirreno-Adriatico all in 1993. It’s fair to say then, that when it comes to all round cycling, the 1988 world champion knows his stuff.

I’ve been riding Fondriest’s mid-range TF2 1.0 model, complete with Shimano’s Ultegra groupset, Mavic’s cracking Cosmic Carbone’s and a Ritchey Pro carbon finishing kit. At first glance the Fondriest looks every bit the thoroughbred racer – the chunky down-tube, aero-shaped seat-tube and massive bottom bracket area do their job in delivering efficient power transfer, making sure every watt that you’re legs churn out is translated directly into speed. The frame is built for a powerful rider and makes a great race bike, the second you jump on you want to attack the pack and sprint for every road sign.
The Fondriest is undeniably a pure racing bike, it felt best at speed when I was really laying the power down. I tested the bike over my favourite handling circuit, a twisting and undulating 60km circuit which I take all test rides on. The route features some steep sharp climbs, diving descents and flat windy sections. The TF2 performed best on the descents and on the flat, holding speed well and perfectly balanced through into the corners. Where the bike came up a bit short was when attacking on climbs, the slightly weighty frame and wheelset proved to be a minor hindrance.

The build kit is a great combination of durability and performance. Shimano’s Ultegra groupset is a stalwart of the bike industry and regarded as a fully developed, high quality and reliable groupset. As expected shifting was sharp and precise. I was taken aback slightly by the European set-up of the brakes, where the front brake is connected to left lever and rear to the right, although this took seconds to get used to and could very easily be swapped over to UK configuration by your local bike shop. Braking performance was very good thanks to the Ultegra calipers and wide breaking surface on the Cosmic Carbone wheels.

These very Mavic’s are one of my personal favourite wheelsets – they provide great aerodynamic performance, handle well in crosswinds (for their 52mm depth) and spin up to speed quickly. As I’ve already mentioned, the 1740g wheels aren’t the sprightliest on steeper climbs, but they more than make up for it with excellent performance on the flat. Although carbon wheels are notoriously fickle, the Cosmic Carbone’s have a great reputation, and the aluminium breaking surface means you’ll get away with one set of brake pads for your favourite training and racing wheels. So how does the TF2 1.0 stack up overall? Personally, I love this bike. The build kit is a perfect balance for road racers and fast evening chaingangs alike. If you’re looking for an out of the box racer that’ll stand out from the crowd then look no further than the Fondriest. The bigger brands may have the financial edge, but if it’s a characterful and sterling Italian stallion that you’re after then Fondriest may just be your perfect match.

Fondriest’s TF2 1.0 is priced at £2100 for the frame, forks & headset, with full builds also available.

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