Tifosi Scalare Review - Cyclist
"A robust performer with a solid front"[expand review]
Tifosi says its most affordable carbon build offers ‘unique geometry that makes it the ultimate road bike, whether you are looking for all-day riding comfort or a high-performance racer.’
It has also updated it over the previous incarnation, to provide better power transfer and a smoother ride.
A little science, if you’ll indulge us… While the Tifosi’s frame is made from a mix of T500 and T700 carbon-fibre, this is no reason to assume it’s of a lower quality to the UHM, or ‘ultra-high modulus’ fibres seen in high-end bikes.
These standard strength moduli are not only more cost-effective to use, but also sacrifice gossamer-like weight for robustness.
Ergo, a T500 frame will be heavier but crucially less prone to cracking in the unthinkable event of a crash.
The Scalare’s frameset is comprised of swooping lines and varying profiles – the flat-profile top tube slopes towards its junction with the seat tube, while its down tube starts its journey from the head tube in a broadly hexagonal profile to one which resembles a scaled-down tin of spam by the time it interfaces with the bike’s 86.5mm bottom bracket.
Dampening seatstays contrast with splayed triangular-profile chainstays.
There’s capacity for electronic groupset wiring, too, while the mechanical Tiagra cabling on this model is internally routed.
It might not be packing any 105 components to grab the headlines, but in our experience, we’d favour the cohesive approach.
To that end, the Scalare uses a Shimano Tiagra compact chainset, its 50/34 chainrings combining with a 10-speed HG500 12-28 cassette at the rear.
The shifters/brake levers are Tiagra equipment, too, as are the callipers themselves.
And, you’ve guessed it, Tiagra components account for both the front and rear mech.
Despite the Italian name, Tifosi is a British company, but that hasn’t stopped it from equipping the bike with Latin-themed finishing kit.
A set of 420mm Deda Zero compact drop bars are clamped to a 110mm Deda Zero alloy stem, to create a comfortable cockpit which, with 30mm of headset spacers, also accommodates a more racy riding position.
Prologo’s Kappa RS saddle sits atop a 31.6mm alloy Deda seatpost.
Miche Reflex RX7 wheels at either end are very much a budget fitment, but that’s traditionally one of the easiest ways for manufacturers to keep the price of a build down.
The unassuming alloy hoops aren’t going to set the world alight, but they’re reliable and durable, which matters, for obvious reasons.
They’re wearing Schwalbe Durano tyres, in a 25c size – the widest recommended rubber for the Tifosi’s frameset.
As far as frame tubes go, the Tifosi's certainly qualified as interesting – we spent more time than you’d think was healthy, simply following the lines and profiles with our fingers before clipping in and riding off.
Elegance is a word thrown about by Tifosi themselves when describing the Scalare, and our first impressions tally.
The Scalare’s geometry gives a clue as to the riding position of this bike, but the over-riding impression, once you’re out on the road, is of a bike that’s noticeably stretched out.
If you favour a long reach and want to get it dialled in for some head-down action, this might well be the bike for you.
A steep seat angle of 74.3° naturally cants you forward to meet those 420mm bars, which, with a brace of spacers moved above the stem, makes for a proper weapon.
The quality of the ride doesn’t suffer for the Tifosi’s sporting intentions, though – despite the 31.6mm alloy seatpost, we encountered minimal interference in the posterior, thanks in part to the natural flex in the flat-profiled seatstays and partly due to the cushioning effect of running 90psi in the 25c tyres.
Prologo’s Kappa RS saddle is a real surprise in this package, too, giving ample support and grip for our bib tights, as well as a small amount of suspension movement in its body.
The real trick in this bike is the way its groupset gels beautifully – modern-day Tiagra’s 10-speed set-up still gives sufficient gear ratios for 90% of occasions, while the brakes are a cut above the Boardman’s in terms of initial bite and modulation of input.
The Tifosi’s head angle is bordering on race-spec, which lends the bike a willingness to turn – and turn at speed – which we weren’t expecting.
Coupled with the ubiquitous tapered steerer, the rigid front end equips this bike with a planted feel whose limits beg to be tested.
A swift pull of the Tiagra stoppers, a nudge on the inside of the bars, and the Scalare hammers into a left-hand, 90° corner at impressive speed.
There’s a flipside to this bike, though, which does make it just as easy to ride at a more leisurely pace – its rear end comfort.
As long as you can get a comfortable position over the front end, you’ll be laughing.
Schwalbe’s 25c Durano tyres do an admirable job of inspiring confidence and supplying a comfortable ride, even on a fresh, moist morning ride.
This bike leaves us with the feeling that the frame would do you for many years to come.
Its all-up weight of 8.84kg would be reduced dramatically with a wheel upgrade, or higher spec groupset.
Tifosi’s importer does indeed offer an Ultegra and Campagnolo Centaur version of this bike, but obviously, it nudges the price considerably upwards.
Even as it is, this Tiagra build costs more than many 105-specced rivals. The question is: is it worth it? On balance, for most riders eyeing a budget carbon road bike, not quite.
If, however, you’re looking for an affordable tool for rapid sportives, and don’t want to risk your £10,000 pride and joy, apply the rule of n+1, buy this and laugh all the way to the bank.