Cinelli's Strato brought a smile to our faces every ride. Under the kaleidoscopic graphics is a classy race machine that positively encourages you to go fast.
The Strato is Cinelli’s most race-focused carbon fibre bike of 2012. Based around a Columbus high-modulus carbon frameset it’s a seriously light ride (under 1kg for the frame) with a point and shoot nature, handling power input with positive acceleration and staying stable at speed.
When you want to change direction, though, through sharp bends or mixing it up in the bunch, it’s snappy and immediate in its movement. A broad-shouldered, wide-crown, all-carbon Columbus fork with 1½in lower headset race creates a sharp and tractable front end, while the fork’s curved lower legs help keep the front end vibration-free, adding to the comfort provided by the quality Cinelli carbon bar.
The frame has a massive head tube, slim square section top tube and huge hexagonal down tube. This mates with the large boxy chainstays through a big BB30-ready bottom bracket shell. The seatstays continue the boxy theme, tapering towards the rear dropouts. The rear end doesn’t offer quite the same plushness as the front; it’s not harsh, but you can feel the road surface.
The combination of full Campagnolo Chorus drivetrain and Zonda wheels is spot-on. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a bike with a pure Campagnolo setup, and though Chorus is only third in the pecking order (soon to be fourth as electronic launches in the spring), it’s all the quality you should ever need from your moving parts.
Every shift is positive, and the tranmission handles big sweeps up and down the block without noise or drama. The Zonda wheels are great too: stiff with smooth bearings, adding a real zing to the ride, but the whole package is hampered by poor tyres.
Vittoria’s Rubino Slick is a good quality mid-level tyre, but the Strato has the base model Rubino, whose slightly treaded surface feels squirmy on dry roads and much worse in the wet. Under cornering it tracks wide, and it’s the only tyre we’ve experienced wheel spin with when climbing while seated.
We switched them out for a set of Schwalbe Ultremos and it was as if we’d unleashed a beast. The Strato became the fastest bike around our test loop by some margin. Cinelli’s UK distributors, Chicken Cycles, have assured us that full production versions will come with more appropriate lightweight Rubino Pros.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.