Fondriest Xstatus 16.5 restoration complete & retro bike review

If you’ve been following this restoration project, you’ll know I picked up an early 2000s steel-carbon Fondriest road bike, and felt the need to restore this handbuilt Italian charmer to something approaching its former glory.

At the very least I couldn’t let something so special get trashed or converted into a fixie and end up chained to lamp posts!

This was the starting point. Good bones.
…and after ironing out a few niggles finally ended up here.

The bike is now mechanically sorted and rides really well.

I’ve enjoyed fixing the issues as I discovered them (cables & housings, brakes, gear indexing, tyres, cassette spacer, freehub service, wheel truing, bar tape, paint correction and drivetrain degrease and lube), progressively stretching it on more challenging test rides, and it has proven itself to be a versatile and fun machine.

The review

My first impressions were that the bike is “invisible”. Bear with me…

It feels light, flighty, and accelerates quickly. It’s nervous but in a good way, agile, but not aggressive. The ride is relatively smooth with a soft, muted road hum, not hard and jarring like my 2007 Giant TCR.

As both the Colnago Tecnos and this Fondriest Xstatus use the “lightest tubing ever made” by Colombus and Dedacciai respectively, and they’re broadly similar vintages (the Colnago is maybe 5 years older), I naturally want to compare the two. Interestingly I found them to be quite different, with the Fondriest feeling notably lighter than the Colnago.

The Fondriest weighed in at 9.4kg with my setup, the Colnago weighs 10kg, so it’s apparently possible to “feel” 600g of difference (which hardly seems credible, but there you have it!). Both are butter smooth to ride though, which is great on longer rides (say >2.5hrs).

The Fondriest had a good workout in recent weeks, with various 3-4hr rides featuring moderate climbing (900-1,300m total), flat cruising sections and fast descents (65-70kph).

It’s perfectly happy doing all the above, but where the Xstatus really stood out for me is in the climbing.

It’s an anti-gravity machine! Hit a hill, the bike disappears and it feels like there’s nothing under you and all power is transferred into motion, with no interference from the bike. In a nutshell it encourages fast climbing, or more climbing, and often both!

Interestingly, on one test ride I shaved 30 seconds off my time a week earlier on the 2005 Lemond Chambery. Not really a material difference over 20 minutes, but it FELT much faster on the Fondriest, and that’s what counts!

Into Germany, and up Hochblauen in the Black Forest

With such light, thin tubing, I wondered how descents might feel. Would it flex or vibrate at speed? No such thing, and it was absolutely fine at any speed, feeling as stable as any other of my bikes and I never felt unsafe or on the limits.

The Shimano Ultegra 6500 groupset is great and works just as well as more recent Ultegra, but with a subtly more “vintage” look. The gearing is nice, with a triple and a super small 28t chainring which I rarely needed to use but wold make mincemeat of any 20%+ alpine climb. The newer Tiagra triple shifters feel just as good as the older Ultegra on my other bikes. I’m always impressed at the quality of Shimano products at any level in the range.

The frame colour is quite striking, and when combined with the unusually profiled down tube and rear tube, I think this is a smart looking bike and definitely something out of the ordinary. I can’t recall ever seeing one before. If you have, let me know!

In summary then, what character does this bike have?

Well, I’d say it’s great fun, like an excitable dog it will run at the first opportunity. It’s skittish and full of energy.

That, crossed with a mountain goat.

And a bike that makes you feel quick is like a date that laughs at your jokes 😆.

So pretty good then, and with that, the restoration is completed and this bike is again being used as Maurizio Fondriest intended! My original objective is achieved and one fixie mutation was avoided on my watch😆

Here’s a final selection of photos. I’d love know what you think.

4 thoughts on “Fondriest Xstatus 16.5 restoration complete & retro bike review

So, what do you think?

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