SOMA CONDOR 2 SHALLOW DROP BARS

337g XL as tested $109.99 (£83.59)

The Soma Fabrications Condor 2 Shallow drop bar is the love child of riser and drop. Aimed at touring, cyclo cross, gravel and commuting audiences, the flared profile is designed so more time, can be spent on the drops. Soma have revised the shape slightly, meaning there’s more useable space, for hands and accessories alike.

Pros: Much improved design, great for rough stuff/touring, gravel riding.

Cons: Quite pricey. Better choices for speed conscious audax and competitive cross.

Materials/Specification

 

The Condor II is also made from 6061 heat-treated T6 aluminium alloy, shot peened with a silver anodized finish. Shot peening is designed to displace loads, and ultimately reduce the likelihood of metal fatigue.

This time round, the back sweep has been “ironed out” resulting in a flatter top section. Some stats that might help you rule them in/out. Reach is 63mm (previously 52mm), drop 100mm (50mm net) with a 14degree flare.

31.8 bulge diameter is a no brainer, given the brief. Mind you; Soma’s suggestion, that they’re “Also ideal for upgrading old bikes, where the fork steerer has been cut too short to add spacers” may depend on your definition of “old”. Sizes are etched into the ends as before. Small (38/44cm). Medium (40/46cm) Large (42/48cm) and XL (44/50cm). 

The smaller figure denotes measurement between brake hoods. Our XL tipped the scales at a genre reasonable 337g - 5g lighter than its predecessor. Subtle laser-etched graphics and general finish, are to a high standard, so should age gracefully. (There is also a black option, should you prefer). Nothing less than we expected, from Soma, or indeed, this price point. 

 

Shape

I welcome the more uniform shape, which has ensured accessories, including computer, action camera, dynamo bracket, switch and secondary light, fit neatly. All without eating into valuable hand space, when cruising on the tops. Bar tapes have become more generous, in terms of density, and length.

That said; in the context of an older bike; something like Genetic D-Rise 16, or Genetic Digest (off road specific) drops are almost £40 cheaper. Savings that could buy a cheerful alloy stem and bar wrap, or indeed, a decent set of cables. 

 

On balance, “moustache” pattern is the best fit, for my tubby tourer’s persona and stem length. Nonetheless, the Condor 2 offered oodles of control, when blasting along unmade roads and less taxing trails, to around 23mph-on the drops.

20mph and in comparable contexts. Suffice to say, I had no qualms, haring along 1in7 descents at 30mph, with trailer en-tow. Even when weary, piloting said combo required minimal effort. On the flip side, bigger bars mean slower steering, and some gaps can be trickier to squeeze through. 

 

More precise comparisons were best made on my cyclo-cross inspired fixed gear winter/trainer, which have hosted the original Condor for 12 months. Doing so confirmed my suspicions, that those small revisions would make a world of difference. 

The slightly deeper drop improved positioning, giving a subtly lower feel to the cockpit, but with no trade off in terms of control, or comfort. These still encourage a drops-first stance; but little adjustments are crucial to avoiding fatigue on longer rides. 

 

The slight skittishness, I noted when alternating between drops and tops, with the original has been a moot point, with the MK2. Regardless whether I was hustling along a descent; or trickling through rush hour traffic.

 

Oodles of leverage means its easy to weave a slalom around pockmarked roads and lanes, although round town, I’ve depended on my ‘crosser’s disc brake more readily. You’re not going to flick around holes, as you might with a cut down flat, or track bar.

 

Even with the machine’s moderate cockpit height, I found cruising on the riser sections a bit alien, overly upright. Nonetheless, more natural than the MK1. Rigidity was never a problem and, I’m pleased to report, extended periods of climbing have failed to tax them.    

 

Value

 

Undeniably well made, and relatively niche, there are several patterns costing considerably less. The Genetic models discussed earlier might be a better starting point. Especially if you are experimenting; or converting an older ‘cross country mountain bike to drops. Similarly, I’d want something with more road heritage, for regular, competitive ‘cross.  

 

Conclusion 

 

Ultimately, contact points are incredibly subjective. For me, the Condor 2 are what the original Condor should’ve been and are the right bar, for my fixed gear winter/trainer and me. 

 

Though not outlandish, £85 odd is quite an investment. 

 

There are similar patterns made from 6061 aluminium alloy commanding £45, and less. I’d recommend dropping by your dealer and comparing a few, before parting with your hard earned.

Verdict: 3.75/5 Quirky and extremely competent drop bars, but relatively pricey.

Michael Stenning

 

www.somafab.com

PUBLISHED MARCH 2019

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