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.
- Pros: Excellent components, looks great, good value
- Cons: Feels a little harsh for an endurance bike
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.
Frame and geometry
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 seatstays 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) is 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.
Cinelli's Superstar Disc Potenza endurance bike will cost you £3k, while a De Rosa Idol Disc with Potenza will set you back a cool £4,249. The De Rosa does come with very swanky Fulcrum Racing 4 wheels, although you could buy yourself the SS26 and some very good racing hoops for less than that.
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 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
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Tifosi SS26 Disc Potenza
Size tested: Medium
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Carbon frame - UD Toray carbon fibre (predominantly T700 and T800). Frame weight - 1.68kg
Carbon fork - UD carbon fibre (1-1/8' to 1-1/2')
Campagnolo Potenza 11 speed groupset
Hydraulic disc brakes, 160mm/140mm rotors
Campagnolo Potenza 52/36 chainset
Campagnolo 11/32 cassette
Campagnolo 11 chain
Miche Evo Max 86.5 x 41 bottom bracket
Miche Race AXY WP DX wheelset
Mitchelin Power Endurance tyres, 25mm
Deda Zero bars and stem
Prologo Kappa RS saddle
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
"The SS26 Disc takes the very best elements of the original frame and reconfigured the geometry to make this bike perfect for all day riding and endurance sportive events," says Tifosi.
"The frame is fully optimised for new flat mount hydraulic brake systems and features 12mm front and rear axles. The large BB shell coupled with the oversized headtube and downtube, offer excellent cornering performance, as well as high-level impact and vibration absorption for incredible comfort, all of this without sacrificing weight or stiffness."
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
The SS26 is Tifosi's all-round racer, and my test bike was the top-specced version. You can get it with a Shimano Ultegra/Miche mix of components for £2,349, and you can also get a rim brake version for £1,899. If you want to go more aero Tifosi has the Auriga, and it also has a lightweight climbing bike called the Mons.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
The frame is very good looking in my opinion, and a bit different to the norm. It's made with high quality carbon fibre and has a smooth finish.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
UD Toray carbon fibre (predominantly T700 and T800). Carbon fork - UD carbon fibre (1-1/8" to 1-1/2").
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
For a medium frame: 55cm top tube, 17cm head tube, 98.8cm wheelbase, 72.25° head angle, 73.75° seat angle.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Quite a high stack height of 56.9cm on a medium compared to 54.5cm on a Giant TCR. The reach is 38.5cm, which is quite long for an endurance race bike.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Mostly very comfortable, yes. Feels a bit harsh over rough roads but on smooth roads it feels really nippy – the handling also feels fairly precise.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Plenty stiff enough, just lacking a bit of compliance at the front end.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
It feels very efficient when you're up to speed, and on the drops is more like an all-out race bike. Plenty of stiffness through the large bottom bracket area; you don't feel like any power transfer is lost.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Not hugely jittery over rough roads and reasonably responsive through corners.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
Descending is good (partly down to Campagnolo's excellent hydraulic disc brakes).
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
The fork could do with some more damping. The wheels and excellent Michelin tyres made the ride more comfortable.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Wheels are a little heavy.
Really good for an endurance bike.
Again, it felt nippy for an endurance bike.
Solid and controllable at high speeds.
It doesn't feel quite as precise as a racer on sharp corners.
The excellent Campagnolo disc brakes help make descending a breeze.
It's not the lightest bike but the wide-range cassette helped on the climbs.
Potenza is excellent, and barely needed any adjusting during a long test period.
Working perfectly with no real wear after 1,000 miles of use.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It hardly ever went out of alignment, even after some really rough rides. I did one gear-indexing session after a month and a half of solid use. The chainset is hardwearing, and everything runs smoothly.
Wheels and tyres
Stiff and stayed true through the test period.
Solid and dependable.
Over 2kg a pair, a little on the heavy side.
Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
I'd go for lighter wheels if I was doing a lot of climbing, and deeper ones if I was racing. These are a bit too in-between for me but do a decent all-round job.
Faultless – best endurance tyres I've ever used.
Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
Never punctured, incredibly tough and great rolling resistance – the Michelin Power Endurance tyres are fantastic.
Really good ergonomics, I'd choose the levers/hoods over Shimano Ultegra any day.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
Those with very large hands might find the hoods a little slim, but I found them brilliant in use.
Anything else you want to say about the componentry? Comment on any other components (good or bad)
Campagnolo's Potenza disc groupset is excellent – superior ergonomics compared to the competition, smooth running and nice to look at.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? Yes
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
I really liked the ride and the spec. For the price you're getting excellent Campagnolo Potenza components, a decent carbon frame and a bike that for the most part can be ridden all day thanks to more comfortable geometry than the previous version. On the last point, though, I do think the bike rides quite aggressively and feels a bit harsh at the front, more so than you might expect for a bike designed for 'all day riding and endurance sportive events'.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road bike (currently Specialized Tarmac) My best bike is: Ridley Chronus TT bike
I've been riding for: Under 5 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, triathlon races
After cobbling together a few hundred quid during his student days off the back of a hard winter selling hats (long story), Jack bought his first road bike at the age of 20 and has been hooked ever since. He joined road.cc in 2017 having previously being Staff Writer at 220 Triathlon magazine, and reports on all things tech as well as editing road.cc's live blog. He is also the news editor of our electric-powered sister site eBikeTips. Jack's preferred events are time trials, sportives, triathlons and pogo sticking (the latter being another long story), and on Sunday afternoons he can often be found on an M5 service station indulging in his favourite post-race meal of 20 chicken nuggets, a sausage roll, caramel shortbread and a large strawberry milkshake.