Tifosi SS26 Disc - Road.cc Review
"A sharp-handling endurance bike with an excellent build".[expand review]
The Tifosi SS26 Disc Potenza is a head-turning, nippy, all-round endurance bike with an excellent spec for the money. Having morphed from a dedicated race frame to a bike intended for sportive and endurance riding, it does fall a bit short in terms of comfort compared with bikes of a similar description, but unless you demand a really plush front end and super-relaxed geometry, you'll be pleasantly surprised by its speed, and the spec is excellent for the price.
Far from just being a production line number, SS26 actually refers to the name of a winding road that links the Italian and French sides of Mont Blanc in the Aosta Valley, which also features in the classic Italian Job scene where a Lamborghini Miura gets bungled down a cliff by a digger. "Just like the superlative Miura, the SS26 is technically innovative as well as a thing of beauty," says Tifosi – although I was hoping that was where the similarities would end...
Stu has reviewed previous versions of the SS26 in the last two years. He was blown away by the offering with a Campagnolo Chorus groupset in 2016, and only slightly less so with the Potenza rim brake SS26 Aero last year.
This time around, our test bike came equipped with the latest version of Campagnolo's Potenza groupset with hydraulic disc brakes, and the geometry has been relaxed a little to make it more suitable for long distance riding and sportives. Tifosi has added the Auriga aero bike to its range for speedsters recently and has the super-lightweight Mons for weight weenies, so the SS26 sits nicely in the middle.
Out on the road, I got on with the SS26 straight away, finding the frame very stiff and capable considering the price point.
It excels on smooth open roads, and it really feels more like an aero bike when you're on the drops and giving it some. Those times when I did get carried away on my training rides and went flat out, I'd have liked a lighter and/or faster wheelset to get the most out of it; the Miche Race AXY DX wide profile wheels are a bit heavy and sluggish at over 2kg for the pair.
For winter riding and general training duties, they're just fine though, and the choice of Michelin Power Endurance tyres is a very smart one. To my mind, they're one of the best all-round road clincher tyres you can buy: tough as old boots and incredibly smooth rolling.
The one bugbear I had with the SS26 was a lack of comfort over rough roads and potholes. Tifosi says it offers "high-level impact and vibration absorption for incredible comfort" but I found the ride a little harsh at the front, more like a race bike than an all-day endurance/sportive bike. For me, it was absolutely fine and something I was prepared to deal with, but if you're looking for a comfortable endurance ride there are definitely more forgiving bikes out there.
What the SS26 lacks in comfort it makes up for in good handling, with cornering feeling precise. This is helped greatly by Campagnolo's excellent new disc brakes, as powerful and confidence-inspiring as any other road discs on the market and easily tuneable via screws on the inside of the levers.
The SS26 comes with a 160mm rotor on the front and 140mm at the rear, which I found provided more than enough stopping power.
You're getting a pretty high stack height of 56.9cm on a medium frame, which compares to 54.5cm on Giant's TCR road bike. The reach is 38.5cm, towards the aggressive side for an endurance race bike, and head angle and seat angles are 72.25 and 73.75 degrees respectively.
The dropped seat stays enhance comfort at the rear, while a head tube length of 17cm gives a more upright riding position than a dedicated racing frame, although there's a generous stack of spacers to play with up front if you want to get down lower. Our test bike weighed in at 8.7kg, a little heavy perhaps but not terrible at this price point.
The electronic groupset-ready frame is very good looking, with the colourways being a bit different to the norm; it certainly turned heads on group rides. It's finished smoothly and is made with "predominantly T700 and T800 carbon fibre", although Tifosi doesn't tell us what the ratios are.
Despite the endurance credentials, there's still very much an aero theme going on here, with a cutout in the seat tube and a fin-like shape to the chunky carbon fork. There's a bit of a gap where the fork meets the frame which looks a tad untidy, but otherwise, I reckon this is a cool looking bike.
Tifosi has specced the Miche Evo Max 86.5 x 41 press-fit bottom bracket with a large BB shell for greater power transfer and has designed the frame to accept 12mm thru-axles, with Campagnolo's flat mount callipers front and rear.
Our test bike came with a 52/36 chainset and 11-32 cassette, which should suit the 'endurance sportive' riders Tifosi is aiming the SS26 at, though it's usually sold with an 11-29 cassette.
You'll find me waxing lyrical about Potenza in an upcoming standalone review of it, and I found it brilliant and one of my favourite features of this bike. The shifting is crisp and flawless, and over a three-month test period through all weathers, just a bit of barrel adjustment was needed halfway through to keep it running perfectly.
The downshifter located behind the brake lever is a little bit trickier to access than a Shimano shifter at first, but once you've got the knack it's splendid, and the position of the paddles has also been tweaked for better ergonomics.
For me, the paddle positioning and general shape of the levers on Potenza (and the new 12-speed Record and Super Record groupsets) are now better than 11-speed Record and Super Record. I think Campag is now winning the groupset wars when it comes to comfort.
Whether it's worth the extra £150 over the SS26 with Ultegra and a Miche chainset is up to you, but for me, the better ergonomics and the extra cool factor would put me in camp Campag if I were to buy this bike.
There are an increasing number of options out there if you want to go down the Campagnolo route, and looking around online the SS26 really does represent decent value compared with competitors.
Overall, I really like the bike and the spec. For the price, you're getting excellent Campagnolo components, a decent carbon frame and a bike that can be ridden all day thanks to its comfortable geometry.
It does ride quite aggressively, though, and feels a bit harsh at the front – more so than you might expect of a bike for 'all day riding and endurance sportive events'. I'd describe it as a fast endurance bike that is ready to race at an amateur level, rather than one for more casual sportive riders.
A sharp-handling endurance bike with an excellent build, which makes up in speed what it slightly lacks in all-day comfort.
Tifosi SS26 Disc - Cyclist Review
"A capable sportive machine that won’t sell you short versus better known brands".[expand review]
The redesigned Tifosi SS26 Disc aims to be an ideal bike for all day riding and endurance sportive events. Part of the reinvigorated brand’s ever-expanding line-up it features dramatic shaping and integration of both the frame and fork, along with 12mm bolt-thru front and rear axles.
Geometry-wise, a medium-high front end, moderate head angle, and matching wheelbase suggest endurance. However, none are taken to extremes.
We’re talking half a degree on the head angle, and a centimetre or two on the stack and wheelbase.
Simultaneously, the frame’s tube profiles, in particular, the chunky chainstays, bottom bracket area, and aero seat stays suggest it’s not inclined to hang about.
The integrated carbon seatpost features a unique head clamp that allows for a larger than average degree of back and forth movement.
Teamed up with a 110mm stem it means the default stretch on the Tifosi is a little longer than average, although this is easily adjusted.
Once comfortably in position, the Tifosi SS26 Disc Campagnolo Potenza proved great fun to ride. The headtube may be long, but the fork crown is tucked right into it, so the front isn’t too high.
With robust bolt-thru axles at both ends, the frame is also very stiff, both front and back. With surprisingly low weight given its reasonable price tag, it’s happy both on the flat and heading uphill, although the lowest available ratio of 34/29t did sometimes catch us out on the steepest ascents.
Coming back down the restrained geometry kept everything predictable, a facet boosted by the disc brakes and medium width tyres.
Elsewhere across prolonged sections of broken road, the Tifosi behaved itself thanks to good rigidity across the length of the bike, although riders used to the insulated ride of some uber-flexy endurance bikes might find it a little inelastic.
Of the holy trinity of light, stiff, and compliant the Tifosi does best at the first two. Not that its ride is jarring, but I suspect more of its jolt-easing ability comes from its wide tyres and semi-relaxed geometry that is native to the frame.
Still, on a long day, with lots of hills, and plenty of tricky descents the SS26 proved an excellent match. Never feeling as if any element of the course fell outside of its remit, it delivered me to the finish line in a decent time, and without beating me up, or scaring me witless.
Available with either Campagnolo Potenza or Shimano Ultegra for £150 less I went with Campagnolo out of curiosity more than anything.
First up compared to Shimano the brakes look fantastic. With svelte levers, flush flat mounts, and diminutive floating rotors they might be enough to win over the last disc brake refuseniks.
The feel of their action is also nice, coming on slowly with lots of modulation. However, in terms of absolute power, they lag behind Shimano or SRAM. This is likely a choice.
Mountain bike brakes would blow the socks off most roadies, so brands are throttling back the power available to road users.
Still, personally, I’d rather have the power, and be trusted to use it without locking up a wheel, than be forced to pull so hard on the levers.
I was a bigger fan of the ergonomic lever shape. Although the fact that you can only shift down one gear at a time might come as a bit of a shock to riders used to dropping their way across the cassette in one go.
Otherwise, the action of the split thumb-actuated downshift and more conventional behind-the-brake-lever upshift feels great.
Pushing through the gears with a pronounced clunk, they’re also likely to be very durable.
Looking at the rolling stock, the mid-depth Miche Race AXY wheels are easy to handle in crosswinds, yet just deep enough to offer the feeling of imparting some free speed.
Able to be run tubeless, the same can’t be said of the tyres which are Michelin Power Endurance models. Supplied in a 25c size they’re nevertheless top-quality treads.
Not overly wide for their stated width, they never gave the impression of running out of grip, while still remaining towards the faster-rolling end of the spectrum.
The Deda Elementi bar and stem are both solid performers from a well-known brand. Similarly, the Prologo Kappa Evo will have cost a fair chunk more to spec than some anonymous alternative.
Generally well-reviewed, it’s neutral in shape with a flat profile and firm padding.
Unless you’re a confirmed Campagnoloite I’d opt for the cheaper Shimano groupset. I prefer the Shimano brakes, and while I don’t have strong feelings regarding the gearing, the extra cash means I’d go mainstream.
Otherwise, I got on swimmingly with the Tifosi SS26 Disc. Fulfilling its brief as a sportive racer, it’s fast enough to never be boring. And with plenty of space for bigger tyres, could easily turn its hand to any other style of road riding.
Given the moderate price tag, the Tifosi’s frame is particularly impressive. There are lots going on, with the neatly integrated fork and seat post, dropped seat stays, and bolt-thru axles.
Then it’s topped off with a solid build kit, consisting of good wheels, good tyres, and branded finishing kit. With its bright and glitzy paint, the whole package looks cool enough to give bigger brands a fright too.