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Cinelli Superstar review

6 Mar 2017
Verdict:

The lightweight Superstar's direct response to power input puts some high-end racing bikes to shame

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2,400

Italian firm Cinelli provides the frameset for a build that’s as Mediterranean as olive oil. So often, bike firms slap an Italian flag on something and double the price, hoping people will see the red, green and white stripes as a mark of quality.

It’s rarely the case, but besides the sub-8kg frame, there’s kit from Selle Italia, Campagnolo, Vittoria and Cinelli’s own carbon finishing kit. We haven’t seen a more Italian bike in a while and it all hangs together very nicely.

Billed as an all-rounder with the capacity to race, and a penchant for climbing, it also undercuts most of its direct rivals by as much as a kilo. But how does it ride? Let’s find out... 

Frameset

The distinctive kink in the top tube is the first thing to catch the eye in terms of the frame. Cinelli says this ‘horizontal curve’ is to prevent deformation at the wheelbase under heavy acceleration, by keeping the angle of the head tube constant.

Buy the Cinelli Superstar from Tredz

Also with the intention of keeping the frame stiff in key areas, plastic moulds are used in manufacturing inside the bott om bracket shell and head tube to compress the layers of carbon while they cure.

This is claimed to increase strength and minimise weight, as less resin is required in these critical areas, while frame clearance has been increased compared to last year’s model to accommodate 28c tyres.

Cable routing is internal and the frame is ready to upgrade to Shimano Di2 or Campagnolo EPS electronic cables.

Although billed as an endurance bike, the concessions to optimum power continue at the rear, where a small rear frame triangle is facilitated by seatstays that project from lower down the seat tube.

Deep profile chainstays, meanwhile, ensure pedalling losses are kept to an absolute minimum.

Groupset

Launched last year, Campagnolo’s 11-speed Potenza groupset is on a par with Shimano Ultegra. A 52/36 chainset combines with a Campag 11-27 cassette and Campag chain to provide the drive, while Potenza shifters take care of the ratio changes and braking.

If you’ve never ridden a Campag-equipped bike, you’ll be amazed by how much more ergonomically correct the brake hoods are compared to Shimano systems!

Finishing kit

Cinelli finishing kit is used throughout, with 420mm carbon Neos handlebars and a 120mm carbon stem – a good set-up for our size M frameset.

A 27.2mm carbon seatpost ensures there’s some flex in the seating department, while a Selle Italia saddle, deep-sided with a sizeable cutaway through its centre is just on the firm side of flexible.

Wheels

More Campagnolo kit in this department with a pair of Zonda wheels. The 2017 wheelset’s C17 rim features a 22.5mm diameter, allowing wider tyres than before.

Asymmetric lacing of the rear spokes, with twice as many on the right as on the non-drive side is intended to increase lateral rigidity. Vittoria’s 28c Corsa tyres are belters, promising long life with little given away in terms of grip.

Finally, although it’s a marketing ploy, the tan walls of Vittoria’s rubber ensure this bike gets more than the odd admiring glance from fellow riders.

Once you’ve got the Carpenters song with which this bike shares its name out of your head, there’s much to love here.

Design-wise, we’re suckers for gumwall tyres, and from an ergonomics point of view, Campag brake hoods are hard to beat, in our experience.

Buy the Cinella Superstar from Tredz

Once we finally stopped drooling over the bike in the garage and got it out on the road, the excellence of its build shone through almost immediately.

We spend the majority of our time on Shimano-equipped bikes, so it takes us a few miles to reacquaint ourselves with the slightly different way in which Campag shifting works (a small paddle inside the brake lever and a separate thumb switch on the inside of the hood).

But within 10 miles of largely rolling roads we’re fully tuned in and revelling in the stiffness of the Superstar’s rear end, transferring watts to the road with aplomb.

By the time we hit the first climb, we’re already impressed but we’re not expecting what comes next.

To put it simply, the Cinelli positively lopes up hills. With a smallest gear of 36-27, sitting and spinning is an option, but when a frame is this responsive, you’d be daft not to belt it uphill in the 52-tooth big ring.

With no discernible flex from the Campag Zonda wheels, we gain altitude quicker than on any bike we’ve ridden in months. Indeed, we’ll make no bones about it – this is one of the best climber’s bikes we’ve tested in a long time.

Although the front end of the Superstar is a touch high, with a head tube measuring a middling 145mm, there are three 8mm spacers if you prefer to lower the stem.

Even with them all beneath the stem, the bike demonstrates a love for sweepers, as well as tighter corners, in part due to a fork with minimal rake which gives the impression of immediate response despite a neutral head angle of 72°.

A front end this stiff mainlines confidence in the corners, but vibrations are dialled out by the full carbon handlebar and stem – not to mention that positively bulbous 28c front tyre at 85psi.

Vittoria’s Corsa rubber directs just enough feedback to the rider, while braking performance from the Potenza callipers is superb.

The Cinelli really is a dark horse, possessed with a love of climbing, an eagerness on flat and rolling roads, and a direct response to input that shames some high-end racing bikes.

Our size M test bike weighed 7.38kg, and for this price you’re unlikely to find much lighter. To quote the late Karen Carpenter, ‘Baby, baby, baby, baby, oh baby, I love you I really do!’

 

Ratings

Frame: At 7.38kg it's impressively light for a bike at this price. 9/10
Components: Superbly crafted Italian parts throughout. 9/10 
Wheels: Campag again with ace Vittoria 28C Corsa rubber. 9/10 
The Ride: Quite simply a total joy, even climbing was fun! 9/10

VERDICT

The Superstar's direct response to power input puts some high-end racing bikes to shame.

Buy now from Tredz

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 550mm 548mm
Seat Tube (ST) 460mm 466mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 624mm
Fork Length (FL) 368mm 368mm
Head Tube (HT) 145mm 145mm
Head Angle (HA) 72.5 72
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 73.6
Wheelbase (WB) 986mm 985mm
BB drop (BB) 705mm 70mm

Spec

Cinelli Superstar
Frame Columbus carbon monocoque frame and fork 
Groupset Campagnolo Potenza
Brakes Campagnolo Potenza
Chainset Campagnolo Potenza, 52/36
Cassette Campagnolo, 11-27
Bars Cinelli Neos, carbon
Stem Cinelli Neos, carbon
Seatpost Cinelli Neon, carbon
Wheels Campagnolo Zonda
Saddle Selle Italian Novus
Weight 7.38kg (size M)
Contact chickencyclekit.co.uk

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