Cinelli Zydeco £1599.99

Cyclocross bike for commuters and more

BikeRadar score 3.5/5

Just what is the Zydeco? Is it a race machine impersonating  a commuter, or an urban bike masquerading as a mud plugger? Well, its Columbus Zonal aluminium frame has cyclocross geometry, with a shorter reach, high bottom bracket and sharp steering – so it’s the right shape for competition; but the big clearances around the Challenge Griffo tyres let you fit mudguards, and the Zydeco has fittings for them as well as bosses for a rear rack.

  • Highs: Snappy and sharp handling
  • Lows: Some low rent parts for the money

Racers will certainly balk at its 10.5kg weight. And with the frame contributing 1500g and the fork nearly 600g, it’s never going to be light – though with some kit upgrades you could get it nearer to a racing weight. Thankfully, on the road it doesn’t ride like a heavyweight, and it’s the same feeling when you hit the trails.

In fact, the Zydeco handles rough stuff well. Its high bottom bracket and sharp front make clearing obstacles a breeze. Over rockier ground the front end’s brutal stiffness and burly fork can put pressure on your wrists, but it doesn’t flex or fall off-line.

Plenty of room for mudguards – and rack eyes!

Ideally we’d have preferred a wider bar than the 42cm one on our large test bike, but that’s personal preference. The gearing, though, is straight out of the cyclocross manual: a 46/36 chainset paired with a 12-28 cassette. This will keep you pedalling on most climbs, and should you need to shoulder it its over-the-top cable routing and semi-flattened top-tube mean it’s comfortable and won’t snag on clothing.

The basic Shimano wheels and cable disc brakes are budget items, but our wheels survived plenty of abuse. And although the brakes look dated, they do work very well. Cinelli provides the bar, stem and seatpost, from its base Vai range; budget it may be, but we’ve always liked Vai kit for its quality and its stiff, well-shaped handlebar.

One thing you can’t ignore about the Zydeco is its looks. The polished aluminium and classic Cinelli colours contrast with the blue logos for a love it or hate it appearance. Whatever your opinion on the aesthetics, underneath the paintjob minus points are few.

This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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