Cinelli is better known today for its stems and bars, but with the Milan-based company now under the presidency of Antonio Colombo, of Columbus tubing fame, it’s no surprise to find this neatly finished triple-butted Columbus aluminium Experience Centaur frame.
Unusually in these days of Shimano, Shimano, Shimano, my bike comes with 11-speed Campagnolo Centaur among a near all-Italian component specification.
The Centaur shifters are joined by Campag’s Calima wheels and parts from fellow northern Italian company Miche. These include the 12-29 cassette and unusual 48/32 HSP Race chainset.
Cinelli, naturally, is responsible for the stem, bar, seatpost and even the saddle. About the only non-Italian components are the 25mm Racepac tyres from Schwalbe’s budget Impac range.
The Racepac tyres are the bike’s only non-Italian component. David Caudery/Immediate Media
Cinelli appears to be joining German companies by emblazoning phrases everywhere, from the Skinny Racing Stays on the straight, pencil-slim seatstays to the Reactive Racing Geometry on the down tube and Megahead Tapered 1.5in on the Columbus carbon fork with its tapered aluminium steerer.
But it does seem to work. The oversized steerer and head tube deliver taut, precise handling. Those skinny stays keep it comfortable enough for the commuting, training and sportive-type riding that the Experience is designed for.
Skinny stays keep it comfortable for commuting, training and sportive riding. David Caudery/Immediate Media
Being Italian, the Cinelli’s geometry is on the aggressive side. Compare it with a Specialized Allez with a similar length top-tube and the Experience has a shorter head-tube, shorter chainstays and a slightly shorter wheelbase.
This makes the handling snappier and more direct, something that its steep frame angles – 73-degree head/73.5-degree seat angles – only add to.
Somewhat surprisingly given this geometry and its generally racy credentials, the Cinelli’s gearing is slightly on the low side. I approve but others may want something higher than the slightly restricted 48×12 top.
The 32×29 bottom gear is similar to 34×31, which got me up the short 11 per cent blasts on my ride home.
Small thumbshifters on the inside of the hoods are sculpted for a better feel. David Caudery/Immediate Media
Shifting from the Campagnolo levers and derailleurs across the Miche chainset and cassette was spot on. There’s still a reassuring ‘click’, although it’s not quite as pronounced as before. The small thumbshifter on the inside of the hoods – left for shifting to the small ring, right for smaller sprockets – has been sculpted for a better feel.
The Miche brakes aren’t great and would benefit from cartridge brake blocks. They lack the easy power of hydraulic brakes and don’t even match the cable disc brakes of something like the Merlin Roc Disc Ultegra.
I’d upgrade the blocks when they wear and it’s the same for the 25mm Racepac tyres, which are from Schwalbe’s budget Impac brand. They performed well enough, but the quality triple-butted frame and carbon fork deserve much better to really make them sing.
Cinelli’s Experience Centaur offers a lovely, lively ride. Robert Smith
Overall, the Experience is a lovely, lively ride and a great, eye-catching ‘Sunday best’ bike. It’s about the most wallet-friendly entry into Campagnolo-world, and its ride will equal that of pretty much any carbon road bike at this price. Bellissimo!
Cinelli Experience Centaur geometry
Seat angle: 74 degrees
Head angle: 73.5 degrees
Seat tube: 48.4cm
Top tube: 53.5cm
Fork offset: 4.7cm
Bottom bracket height: 26.9cm