Custom Build: Fondriest TF3

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People must think that having a bike shop is great. You have so many products at your disposal and over the quieter winter months you often have a bit of extra time to spend dreaming about what exotic machine to build next.

The truth is though, it is actually a lot more difficult than you think. We still have to put our own hard-earned cash towards the bikes we ride so the decisions we make are just as tough and thought-out as the rest of you.

I have been riding an Italian built alloy bike for the best part of 10 years now, so with the constant teasing of Spring I thought it might be a good idea to get a new build under way to showcase the brands that mean something to me.

When it came to choosing the frame, I had three basic options. Italian (Fondriest), French (Lapierre) or US (Felt). They all make amazing frames and the offerings from both Lapierre and Felt can be spotted amongst the pro peleton. I wanted something a little bit left-field though. Something that wouldn’t disappear and blend in to the pack. For that purpose alone, it’s pretty hard to look past an Italian steed in my opinion, so the decision to go Fondriest was made.

My goal with this project wasn’t to create the ultimate uber-expensive machine. It’s far too easy to throw money at a build, pick all the most expensive components and come out with something only very few people can access. I wanted to show what can be done with mid-range componentry on a fairly reasonable budget if you put a bit of thought in to it.

I went ahead and purchased Fondriest TF3 1.2 frame in fluro orange. With a RRP of £1,399 the TF3 sits 4th from the top of their carbon offerings so it is pretty well priced. Don’t let the position in the Fondriest hierarchy put you off though. This frame was ridden to victory at the World Champs in 2012 in the men’s U23 category so it definitely has pedigree built in to it.

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Choosing which groupset to use may or may not be an easy decision for you. For most, it will be something from the Shimano stable and more often than not, Ultegra or it’s Di2 Equivalent. It offers reliable performance at a reasonable price, but it’s just not for me. It’s heavy, I don’t like the way it shifts and the Di2 version just looks plain ugly. Many will argue with me, but that’s fine. For me I think it’s great that we have so many options available now.

So what is my choice of groupset? It has to be Campagnolo and specifically for this build, Chorus. Again keeping in mind that I am looking at a “value” build, there is a lot of justification for going this route. First and foremost, Campag carbon groupsets simply look the best, especially when matched to an Italian frame. But more importantly, the reason for choosing Chorus is that you get all the beautiful shifting quality of Record and Super Record at a significantly reduced price thanks to some slightly less exotic materials used in the construction. Sure Chorus might not have the same cafe bragging rights as Record or Super Record, but it will be a little bit more durable and it still weighs in considerably less than anything Shimano has to offer.

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After the frame itself, wheels are the most important part of the bike. There are so many options out there now that it’s difficult to know where to go and unless you get a chance to ride them all, how are you ever supposed to know what is “good”. I wanted something carbon and fairly aero for this build, but still quite lightweight. The default choice for this type of wheel is the ubiquitous Zipp 30 or a Movic Cosmic Carbone, or if you have a bit more cash to spend something from Enve or even Lightweight. Whilst all being brilliant wheels, all these options went against the philosophy of the build and in the end I went for a set of Fast Forward F6R tubs in their limited edition matte black colour scheme. Whilst many people would still consider these to be fairly expensive for a set of wheels, they come with outstanding DT Swiss 240 hubs and are all entirely hand built in the Netherlands. They also come with plenty of race-proven experience and again you’ll see them being used in the peloton so it’s still a whole lot of tech for a reasonable price.

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So that is the three main components to the build. I guess the most important part though is the thing I am yet to discuss: the ride. To be honest the bike hasn’t seen the light of day yet. Winter threatens to stick around just a little bit longer so it will stay tucked away until Spring weather emerges so keep posted for further updates. In the mean time, if you are thinking about a custom build, pop in to the shop for a look and a chat about what we can do for you. Custom builds start from as little as £1,600 so don’t think you’re always limited to off the peg bikes.

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Specs:

Frame Fondriest TF3 1.2 £1,399
Groupset Campagnolo Chorus £899
Wheels FFWD F6R £1,199
Tyres Vittoria Corsa Evo CX Tubs £65 each
Saddle Selle Italia SLR Kit Carbonio Flow £175
Stem Deda Zero 100 Service Course £99
Handlebar Deda Newton Anatomic £67
Bar tape Lizard Skins DSP £25

Weight 6.62kg

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