Cipollini NK1K review

Built for speed, combining aero and stiffness

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We’ve tested a few Cipollini bikes (RB800, RB1000) and found them aggressive, rock solid and fast. The uncompromising geometry of short wheelbase, low front end and long ride position suits those who like fast blasts rather than long days out.

While the NK1K keeps to that ethos, it has a few more tricks. The front end is low — 541.5mm of stack on my medium bike combined with a 384.5mm reach — but you can choose a second handmade carbon headset cover that raises the front by 15mm, if you want more stack.

The angles are similarly aggressive with a steep 73.5-degree seat angle that puts you square over the cranks, encouraging powerful high-cadence efforts. The head-tube is 72.5 degrees with a 45mm rake that makes for a fine balance between straight-line stability and nimble direction changes.

On climbs the NK1K impresses; even the 53/39 chainset didn’t pose any issues

So far so very Italian sprinting legend, but the bike is designed to take a larger tyre; 28mm on wide rims will fit for more comfort. My bike comes with the mighty FFWD F4R wheels that offer sweet braking and good crosswind control in an aero package. These are shod with 25mm Challenge Strada tyres that feel smooth thanks to their tubular tyre-like 300tpi cotton casing.

The latest 9110 Dura-Ace direct-mount brakes with their twin-bolt connection to the frame and fork offer increased rim width capacity, which is a good match to the FFWD wheels, and in use are loaded with power and full of feel. They’re certainly the closest I’ve seen to disc brake performance from a standard caliper brake.

Plenty of aero-style bikes feel fast once you’re over the 20mph hump, but the neat trick with the NK1K is that it feels lightning quick from a standing start. The solidity through the massive bottom bracket shell and taut front end make for a truly exciting bike under acceleration.

The frame weighs 1,120g, not light in these days of sub-kilo flyweights, and the overall 7.65kg weight isn’t light for a superbike, but the NK1K doesn’t feel heavy. It’s almost the opposite thanks to the lightness of touch you need through turns.

On climbs the NK1K impresses; even the 53/39 chainset didn’t pose any issues. I like its combination with the 11-28 cassette, but more so the efficient way the chassis transfers your energy into propelling you forward without sapping anything from undue flex.

The frame is built using T1000 Toray fibres, very much like the Pinarello F8, and so aggressively styled I’d imagine any nods to comfort being way down on the list, but the Cipo surprises again. It’s never going to match the plushness of the Domane, but it was free of harsh vibrations.

The chassis does communicate the road texture, but never in a wearing manner.

The cockpit, comprising of a Ritchey WCS Logic II carbon bar and 220 stem, offers plenty of stiffness with its vibration-damping qualities.

I'm impressed by the NK1K, and it’s the best I’ve tested yet from Cipollini. While it’s not a bike for everyone, being so focused on speed and getting you down into an aero position, it’s still one to be admired for its design uninfluenced by trends, its wonderful handcrafted-in-Italy construction and its damned exciting ride.

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

Warren Rossiter

Senior Technical Editor
Approaching two decades of testing bikes, Warren can be found on a daily basis riding and exploring the road and off roads of Wiltshire's Salisbury Plain in the UK. That's when he's not travelling the world to test the latest kit, components and bikes.
  • Age: 44
  • Height: 188cm / 6'2''
  • Weight: 92kg / 203lb
  • Waist: 86cm / 34in
  • Chest: 112cm / 44in
  • Discipline: Road
  • Preferred Terrain: Big, fast descents and rough surfaces like cobbles or strada bianca
  • Current Bikes: Decade Tripster ATR, Dedacciai Temarario, Cannondale Synapse, BMC Granfondo Disc Di2, Genesis Day One CX, Parlee Z Zero Custom, Storck Scenario Comp Custom, DMR Trailstar, Bianchi Pista, Cube SUV 29er e-bike
  • Dream Bike: Bianchi Oltre Disc, Bianchi Specialissima, Cannondale Slate, Buffalo Bike
  • Beer of Choice: Brew Dog Punk IPA
  • Location: Wiltshire, UK

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