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Steel bikes: Cinelli Vigorelli Road review

2 Oct 2018
Verdict:

Performance steel with racing pedigree. Evolved from a pure-bred racer, handling is the Vigorelli's forte

Cyclist Rating: 
Price: 
£2,499.99

Taking the Vigorelli fixed-gear race bike and transforming it into an 11-speed road bike, Cinelli has retained the low bottom bracket drop required for continuous pedalling through corners, but has raked the forks out to eliminate the chance of catching your toes on the tyre. It’s purposeful, and then some.

Frameset

The Vigorelli’s frameset is constructed from Columbus triple-butted tubing, which has allowed Cinelli to fine-tune tube wall diameters for extra strength at its junctions while keeping overall weight as low as possible in non-stressed sections of the tubing.

As is the normal style for steel bikes, the cable routing for both brakes is external, but the cables for the front and rear mechs are internally routed through the down tube.

Straight, round-profile seatstays splay towards the rear axle to provide a maximum tyre clearance of 28c, while a monocoque carbon fork also accommodates the 28s fitted to our test bike.

Steering geometry is race-spec, with a headtube angle of 73.6° providing responsive cornering performance.

One of this bike’s key features is its low bottom bracket drop of just 51mm. This is a crucial consideration in fixed-gear racing as racers cannot stop turning the pedals, even when cornering – for obvious reasons. 

A total of 30mm of headset spacers allows for a racing crouch should maximum speed be of optimum importance, but with all three 10mm spacers stacked below the stem, the riding position becomes more relaxed for lengthier rides at a more sedate pace.

Groupset

Campagnolo’s Potenza groupset is used throughout the Vigorelli – a very decent upgrade over the standard build’s Centaur equipment.

This highest-level alloy groupset in the Italian firm’s range provides a 52/36 chainset, 11-29 cassette, excellent rim brakes and of course, Campag’s incredibly ergonomic levers, shifters and brake hoods. Both derailleurs are also Potenza kit.

Finishing kit

The finishing kit continues the all-Italian approach to the bike’s spec, with Cinelli’s own-brand alloy Dinamo range supplying the 420mm diameter compact drop handlebars and 110mm stem, as well as the 31.6mm seatpost.

It’s topped by a Prologo Kappa Evo saddle, which we were impressed by when we used one on another Cinelli earlier this year.

It supplies a good amount of feedback from the road while flexing enough to assist with rear-end comfort.

Wheels

Campagnolo’s Scirocco wheelset is used on the Cinelli. These hand-built Italian wheels feature a 35mm-section alloy rim and a 22mm diameter, allowing them to wear 28c rubber.

Perfect spoke tension and stiffness is supplied courtesy of Campag’s Mega-G3 spoke pattern and an oversized flange on the rear wheel hub.

Michelin’s Power Endurance tyres are used in their 28mm diameter format on the Vigorelli, and we continue to be impressed with how well these relatively inexpensive tyres perform.

Grip is very good, while durability and puncture-protection also make them a sound bet for a summer of fun.

Of course, running slightly lower pressures only adds to the level of comfort afforded by the steel frame in the first place.

On the road

Sometimes, shouty is good. There’s no doubting this bike is going to turn heads.

And judging from the first miles of our test ride, the heads of fellow riders will turn for just long enough to see you before you blast past and head off into the distance. It’s very responsive, and easy to power at speed.  

Yes, the Vigorelli packs a punch, but that’s only half the story. The frame has a little flex in it to allow longer rides in comfort, too.

Steel will always win out over traditionally much harsher aluminium-framed road bikes in the comfort stakes, but that the Cinelli does it without compromising on performance is borderline-witchcraft.

There’s very little intrusion from vibrations at the rear end, thanks to the tremendous Prologo saddle and jar-absorbing seatstays (and in spite of the 31.6mm alloy seatpost – manufacturers will generally go for a 27.2mm item to allow for flex).

The front end does get a little vibey, but this is kept in check by running lower pressures in the Michelin tyres.

There is a feeling of being perched atop the Vigorelli, as its bottom bracket is around 20mm higher than the normal 70mm ballpark, but the reach to the bars is easy.

Stopping power from Campag’s Potenza rim brakes is remarkable, and makes you question whether disc brakes really are necessary on a road bike, with fine adjustment of braking input undertaken with one finger on the lever, and head-banging stopping power available with a sizeable handful of it. 

As you might expect of a road bike that’s evolved from a pure-bred racer, handling is the Cinelli’s forté.

We’ll reiterate that you could easily smash (or tap) out a five-hour ride on this bike in relative comfort, but if you really want to push on, there’s a stack of entertainment waiting to be unleashed from this metal marauder.

The steep head angle provokes a blink-and-it’s-there approach to cornering in tighter turns, which is thankfully kept in check by the very decent rubber wrapped around Campag’s Scirocco wheels, urging harder turning as confidence in the tyres increases.

What the Vigorelli Road also offers is the peculiarly hybrid sensation of a fixed-gear pedalling action in an 11-speed package.

Once you really get going you’re in no danger of decking out the pedals on downhill switchbacks or rough backroads.

Being able to pedal through turns gives a sense of constant progress to the ride, and requires none of the huffing and puffing usually involved with jumping out of a freewheeled corner in a big gear to sprint back on to your mate’s wheel.

It makes for an invigorating riding experience, and one we’d find it hard to tire of.

If you’re not planning an audax this year, might fancy a fast century ride, but definitely want something a little different to the ubiquitous carbon bike for everyday rides and café blasts, you’ll seriously want to consider this bike.

RATINGS

Frame: Triple-butted tubes for low weight/high strength. 9/10 
Components: We're big fans of the Campag Potenza kit. 8/10 
Wheels: Excellent Campag wheels and Michelin tyres. 8/10 
The ride: Race-like handling makes for an exciting ride. 8/10 

Verdict: Performance steel with racing pedigree. Evolved from a pure-bred racer, handling is the Vigorelli's forte.  

Geometry

                                     
Top Tube (TT) 560mm
Seat Tube (ST) 558mm
Stack (S) 551mm
Reach (R) 399mm
Chainstays (C) 405mm
Head Angle (HA) 73.6 degrees
Seat Angle (SA) 73.5 degrees
Wheelbase (WB) 996mm
BB drop (BB) 51mm

Spec

Cinelli Vigorelli Road
Frame Columbus Thron steel frame, carbon forks
Groupset Campagnolo Potenza
Brakes Campagnolo Potenza
Chainset Campagnolo Potenza, 52/36
Cassette Campagnolo, 11-29
Bars Cinelli Dynamo, alloy
Stem Cinelli Dynamo, alloy
Seatpost Cinelli Dynamo, alloy
Wheels Campagnolo Scirocco, Michelin Power Endurance 700 x 28 tyres
Saddle Prologo Kappa Evo
Weight 8.94kg (Large)
Contact chickencyclekit.co.uk

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