Cinelli Experience Centaur review

Classy-looking Cinelli, Columbus and Campagnolo combination

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Our rating 
3.5 out of 5 star rating 3.5
GBP £1,150.00 RRP
red Cinelli road bikeCinelli Experience Centaur

Our review

Lovely-looking, sharp-riding Campagnolo-equipped bike with a distinct Italian flavour
Pros: Lively, aggressive ride and it’s great to see Campagnolo at a comparatively modest price
Cons: Surprisingly unracy gears thanks to the sub-compact chainset; so-so brakes and tyres
Skip to view product specifications

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.

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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.

Racepac tyre on Cinelli Experience Centaur
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.

Cinelli Experience Centaur
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: sculpted for a better feel
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 Experience Centaur
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!

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Cinelli Experience Centaur geometry

  • Seat angle: 74 degrees
  • Head angle: 73.5 degrees
  • Chainstay: 40.7cm
  • Seat tube: 48.4cm
  • Top tube: 53.5cm
  • Fork offset: 4.7cm
  • Trail: 5.2cm
  • Bottom bracket height: 26.9cm
  • Wheelbase: 980mm

Product Specifications

Product

Price GBP £1150.00
Weight 9.35g (M)
Brand Cinelli

Features

Available sizes XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL
Headset Integrated
Tyres Impac RacePac 25mm
Stem Cinelli 11cm
Shifter Campagnolo Centaur
Seatpost Cinelli 27.2mm
Saddle Cinelli
Rear derailleur Campagnolo Centaur
Handlebar Cinelli 42cm
Bottom bracket FSA BB86 PF
Front derailleur Campagnolo Centaur
Frame Columbus Airplane triple-butted aluminium
Fork Columbus Futura tapered carbon monocoque
Cranks Miche Race HSP 48/32
Chain KMC X11-93
Cassette Miche Primat0 12-29
Brakes Miche dual calliper
Wheels Campagnolo Calima