Cinelli Experience review

The Campagnolo experience on a budget

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0
GBP £999.00 RRP

Our review

Great race bike handling and Campagnolo kit in a lovely package
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Cinelli is best known for its components, yet it also has a long history when it comes to bikes. The Experience is made in the Far East but the kit is pretty much an all-Italian job: Cinelli’s associate company Columbus makes the 1400g aluminium frame, with Miche providing the wheels and chainset and Campagnolo its 10-speed Veloce groupset. The tyres are from Vittoria, and the saddle is an excellent Selle Italia SL.

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  • Highs: Lightweight frame, Campag kit and snappy handling
  • Lows: Weighty wheels and possible toe overlap
  • Buy if: You’re looking for a lively, Campagnolo-equipped road bike

Campag isn’t necessarily better than Shimano (no arguments, please), but it has a more positive action and is more exclusive at this price. And if you are a Campag fan, the Experience is one of the best-value routes to enjoy the, er, experience. (If Shimano is your thing, this bike is also available with Sora kit.)

… and the shifting is positive and accurate
… and the shifting is positive and accurate:
Robert Smith

Campagnolo shifting is positive and accurate

Unlike some earlier models, the 2014 Experience has external cabling. Looks-wise it’s a retrograde step, and may reduce cable lifespan because they’re more exposed to the elements, but it doesn’t hamper shifting – plus externally routed cables (as well as the regular screw-in bottom bracket) are great for the home mechanic to clean or upgrade.

There are modern design features, though, in the shape of the tapered head tube, which is new this year. The fork has carbon blades and an aluminium steerer, typical at this price. The short wheelbase, well under a metre on our test bike, can result in toe overlap – so if this is an issue make sure you check it out.

But that wheelbase does contribute to a very rewarding ride, and it’s one that would lend itself well to racing and fast sportives rather than weekend dawdles. The wheels, while not light, are stiff enough. The shortish head tube means you can get down into a nice, low position, while the short-drop bar means you’ll never be far away from the drops if you need to change direction.

The result is snappy handling in spite of the weight of the wheelset, and the Experience climbs reasonably, with no flex evident from the frame, chainset or wheels. But the frame’s racy nature really comes into its own on descents and, though its liveliness means you need to take care, it always stays the right side of twitchy.

Ideally we would have liked something a bit better than the Zaffiro tyres to really make the most of it, and if 23mm is a little too firm, there is room for 25mm. But the ride is reasonably comfortable as it is, triple butting keeping the weight down, strength up and preventing it from becoming too stiff. The compact frame, excellent saddle and slim seatpost also help with long-distance comfort.

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For wannabe fastmen and fastwomen the Experience is one of the best ‘entry-level’ bikes around at this price, and an ideal entry point to the world of Campagnolo too.

Product Specifications

Product

Name Experience (14)
Brand Cinelli

Available Sizes 46cm 48cm 51cm 54cm 57cm
Saddle Cinelli Custom
Wheelbase (cm) 97
Top Tube (cm) 54
Standover Height (cm) 77.5
Seat Tube (cm) 52
Chainstays (cm) 41
Bottom Bracket Height (cm) 27.5
Weight (lb) 19.75
Year 2014
Wheelset Miche Excite, 24 spokes front, 28 spokes rear
Weight (kg) 8.96
Stem Cinelli DNA 31.8mm clamp, 100mm
Shifters Campagnolo Veloce
Seatpost Cinelli DNA, 27.2mm
Seat Angle 73.5
Rear Wheel Weight 1890
Bottom Bracket FSA Mega Exo
Frame Material Columbus Airplane aluminium
Brakes Shimano Ultegra 6700
Cassette Miche Primato 10 CA 12- 27
Chain KMC X10
Cranks Miche Team 50/34 175mm
Fork Cinelli Experience carbon, 11/8- 1½in aluminium steerer
Fork Offset 5.5
Front Derailleur Campagnolo Veloce
Rear Tyre Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Tech 700x23
Front Tyre Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Tech 700x23
Front Wheel Weight 1360
Handlebar Cinelli DNA, 39cm
Head Angle 73
Headset Type Tange 11/8-1½in
Rear Derailleur Campagnolo Veloce
Frame size tested L