Shin-Ichi Konno is the son of Cherubim founder Hitoshi Konno and the master frame builder there. His expertise in crafting some of the greatest bicycles in the world from steel means that, for those in the know, Cherubim frames and forks are regarded as the best money can buy (£2000 for the Piuma frame and fork tested here).
The Piuma frame is made using custom drawn Kaisei tubing and fillet brazing (no lugs for the tubes to fit into, just tube-to-tube joins surrounded by brazing). The bottom bracket shell is machined from billet 4130 steel, and there are options to have head-tubes manufactured the same way on custom frames.
The attention to detail is staggering. Nothing’s here simply for aesthetics – everything is done because it works and functions, with small details put in as a kind of builder’s signature, such as the heart shaped cut-outs on the cable stops under the down-tube. The result is a stunningly good looking frame that doesn’t need fancy lugwork or overworked tubes to stand out.
The most remarkable thing, though, is how superbly it rides. There are great frames and there are a handful of truly stunning frames. The latter are the ones that have that magical ride quality, that certain something that’s impossible to quantify. The Cherubim Piuma gives a ride quality that you cannot get anywhere else. It’s light, stiff, sublimely comfortable and handles like a thoroughbred race bike in all aspects, and yet you can happily relax without worry when tired. It is, quite probably, the finest steel frame and fork you can buy at the moment.
One tester reckons that, in 20-odd years of cycle testing, this is the sweetest-riding steel frame he’s ever had the pleasure of trying. It isn’t down to the equipment on it either: our test bike came with Campagnolo Athena and a pair of Mavic Open Pro rims laced up to Royce hubs. Aside from the fantastic hubs, there was nothing particularly special about the build, and yet the Piuma managed to stun everyone who rode it.
Yes, £2000 is a lot of money for a steel frameset, but when such a frame and fork built up with fairly standard kit can create such an utterly wonderful bike, it doesn’t seem overpriced to us. If you’re a fan of steel, we just suggest you lavish a little more on the build when you buy one.