Cinelli’s Experience is one of the best ways possible to get a road bike for under £1,000 from a classic Italian marque with more than 60 years of history behind it. It has a Columbus aluminium frame, Campagnolo shifters and Miche componentry. And this Latin master is a lightweight racing machine with Tricolore blood in its DNA.
The Airplane frame is triple butted and contributes to an all-in weight of just 8.71kg (19.2lb), which is great for the price. Another design feature common to more expensive bikes are the concealed cables. Mechanics may not like them, but these add to the aesthetics and ours were free of annoying rattles.
It’s great to see Campagnolo on a sub-£1,000 bike, especially in the shape of Veloce, which has aluminium levers instead of Xenon's plastic ones. The rubber hoods have a great shape for riding on, and the shifting – paired with the Miche chainset – is as good as Shimano’s, with a more solid feel. While the 10-speed setup means you can’t swap parts with 11-speed kit, you’re likely to get a long life from these, and Campagnolo 10-speed doesn’t look like it’s about to be phased out soon.
The 73-degree head and seat tube angles and short (15cm) head tube contribute to its sharp handling and rapid acceleration. It may not have the long distance comfort of some bikes at this price, but the slimline seatstays, 27.2mm seatpost and excellent Selle Italia X1 saddle – with prominent cutaway – make sure your backside isn’t beaten up.
But put the hammer down and the Experience flies. The compact frame is stiff and you can throw it around easily. The Miche wheels are a good weight – less than 3kg complete with tyres, cassette and quick-release skewers – and the Campagnolo brakes work better than Shimano Tiagra and even edge out 105.
Cinelli and 3T provide the stem, bar and tape – all good quality, though we’re not sure about that orange. There are no mudguard eyes but the frame can take 28mm tyres. If you want to get away from identikit me-too brands without breaking the bank, Cinelli’s first class Experience should be high on your list.