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Cinelli Tipo Pista singlespeed bike review

19 Feb 2018
Verdict:

With easily spinnable gearing, a light frame and razor-sharp handling, the Tipo is great fun for hacking around on

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£750

Venerable Milanese brand Cinelli is known for creating race-ready bicycles.

Its Tipo Pista comes with a fixed gear and the sort of short cranks and relatively steep angles that suit track racing.

Still, it comes packaged with a set of optional brakes that you can fit to make it road-legal, so there’s no reason why it can’t also serve as a nimble road-going whip.

We’re expecting thrills from this tight-looking package, but will they come at the price of everyday rideability?

The frame

The Cinelli’s tubing comes from another Milan-based manufacturer, Columbus, who supply the Tipo with its custom aluminium tubes and carbon bladed fork.

They’re both pretty light, especially the fork which has a claimed weight of 560g.

In common with all track-racing bikes, the rear-facing dropouts are narrow at 120mm. This means, unlike the Bombtrack, it’s impossible to retrofit multiple gears as that requires a much wider hub.

Fitted with stainless steel plates, the dropouts allow the rear wheel to be locked in tight without the serrated axle nuts chewing up the frame.

Otherwise, the Tipo is stripped back, as you’d expect from a track frame. That means no mounts for cables or racks, and definitely no space for mudguards.

We ended up zip tying the rear brake cable in place. The tube profiles are consistently round and the geometry traditional.

The whole lot is also very stiff. Taking its track-racing pedigree seriously, there are no bottle cage bosses, either.

Despite the bike’s otherwise racy credentials, it’s not actually that low at the front, meaning most riders should be able to get the handlebar into a suitable position for their level of flexibility.

Groupset

With the brakes not being the Tipo’s biggest selling point, it’s unsurprising to find they’re not much cop.

The callipers and levers are just about passable, but the pads are plasticky and hard to adjust.

We’d swap them straight away rather than waiting for them to wear down. The square taper crank is unremarkable, but gets on with its job without fuss.

The cranks are short enough that you won’t need to worry about striking a pedal while cutting across the track or getting low through the turns.

The chainring, cogs and in chain seem to be durable despite not sporting any recognisable branding.

Finishing kit

The cushy saddle is comfy, either in proper cycling shorts, or riding around in jeans.

The post supporting it is a single-bolt model, yet seems tough enough. Up front, the stem’s faceplate is embossed with the famous Cinelli winged C logo.

Despite the bike’s track credentials, the bar it holds is a fairly conventional model.

With flat tops and only a moderate drop, it’s both practical and easy to move around on.

The Cinelli logo print bar tape looks cool, although the satin finish might not be to everyone’s taste.

Wheels

The Tipo’s all-black rims look cool. However, the brakes quickly eat into their surface, leaving them slightly less good looking.

At the back, a flip-flop rear hub means it’s possible to fit a freewheel on the opposite side to the supplied fixed sprocket, allowing you to flip the wheel over between fixed gear and coastable styles, increasing the bike’s versatility.

Both hubs roll on sealed cartridge bearings. The deep section rims are fairly stiff, however, and along with the relatively basic tyres they’re not overly eager to accelerate, being slightly sandbagged by their weight.

With 32 spokes each, they should at least be tough.

On the road

With a longish top tube, short head tube, and lengthy stem, the Tipo suggests it’ll be happy to make speedy progress.

However, as the only one of our bikes on test to be supplied with a fixed sprocket rather than a freewheel, it might take some getting used to.

If you’ve not ridden fixed before, your first impressions will be dominated by the sensation that it’s attempting to kill you as the unrelentingly spinning pedals try to buck you off the bike.

Push on through this, though, and the fact that the pedals rotate in sync with the spinning of the wheels quickly becomes second nature, and as any fixie bore will tell you, the sensation of being connected to the bike is heightened.

If it’s going fast, so are your legs. But if you really can’t get on with it, it’s easy and cheap to replace the sprocket with a screw-on freewheel.

The Cinelli’s fork is a quality and very light Columbus model. Its steep angle and lack of rake keeps the bike’s handling sharp.

It also means there’s a degree of toe overlap, which is noticeable when weaving about at slow speeds.

Turning over the Tipo’s stock gearing of 48x17 wouldn’t trouble Chris Hoy, but is perfect for road-going riding.

Spinning along happily at about 20mph it’s not too much of a struggle to get up most hills. Still, it takes a fair bit of practice to resist the forward march of the bike with just your legs and without resorting to the brakes.

This is exacerbated by the narrow handlebar and lack of conventional brake hoods, which make it harder to brace your upper body to push back against the pedals.

Once you’ve got the hang of it, though, the Tipo is great fun for hacking around on.

Permissible to use in the velodrome without the brakes (the callipers and top bar-mounted levers are quick to remove), it’d be churlish to not give that a try, too.

What’s in a number? Quite a lot, it turns out, once applied to the bike.

In fact, the dimensions and angles first scribbled down by a designer will have a larger effect on how the finished bike rides than material or component choices.

The Tipo is based around some fairly aggressive numbers, as befits a bike capable of racing on the track.

The combination of shallow fork offset and steep head angle give the bike rapier-like handling, something furthered by the short wheelbase.

Still a way off being quite as nippy as a true track racer, it’s easily enough to keep you engaged when transferred to the road.

Not that we’re complaining. For playing at city-centre criterium racing, or living out your alley cat fantasies it’s perfect, snapping between lanes in a heartbeat.

The downside is that it can be a little unforgiving on longer rides, as the straight front end has little opportunity to flex and provide comfort.

It’s also slightly intimidating when pointed downhill. Obviously, neither is a problem on the smooth wooden boards of a velodrome.  

Ratings

Frame: Lightweight tubing and track-focused geometry. 7/10
Components: The track focus is obvious in the so-so brakes. 7/10 
Wheels: Quality hubs and rims, though the tyres are basic. 7/10 
The Ride: Fun but a bit of a handful due to geometry and fixed gear. 7/10

Verdict

The standout features are comfort and versatility, and while performance is far from thrilling, it's the epitome of a reliable, go-anywhere winter machine

Geometry

Claimed Measured
Top Tube (TT) 550mm 545mm
Seat Tube (ST) 530mm 535mm
Down Tube (DT) N/A 638mm
Fork Length (FL) 367mm 367mm
Head Tube (HT) 150mm 150mm
Head Angle (HA) 73.5 73
Seat Angle (SA) 74.4 74
Wheelbase (WB) 969mm 973mm
BB drop (BB) 55mm 55mm

Spec

Cinelli Tipo Pista Grey Bike
Frame Columbus Custom Alloy, 1-1/8" carbon/alloy fork
Groupset N/A
Brakes Promax RC-452, Promax 160A levers
Chainset Lasco 48t 165mm
Cassette 17t fixed cog
Bars Cinelli 6061
Stem Cinelli 6061 31.8mm
Seatpost Cinelli 6061 27.2mm
Saddle Cinelli VL
Wheels Jalco Mrx24 rims, KT fixed/free hubs, Duro Hypersonic 25 tyres
Weight 8.56kg (M)
Contact chickencyclekit.co.uk

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