Italy’s Cinelli may be best known for its stylish road bikes and high-end components, but the company also makes a few different models of its Hobootleg tourer – which has quite a heritage of its own.
The Hobootleg has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for traversing the world by bike and has been ridden over all seven of the world’s highest mountain passes.
This is why Cinelli can describe the Hobootleg – which it has been fine-tuning for the last five years and more than a million kilometres – as tried, tested and ultra-reliable.
The Hobootleg has all the familiar features of a modern touring bike: a butted chromoly steel frame, triple chainset with wide-ranging gears and three sets of bottle bosses. It’s also got a few extras, such as a front and rear rack, a chain peg and its blue paintwork contains a corrosion-resistant ‘electrophoretic’ coating.
Cinelli has gone with STI shifters, this time with a 9-speed Shimano drivetrain with a Miche cassette. However, the chainset is a slightly racier 50/39/30 FSA model, which gives a marginally higher 30×34 bottom gear.
Touring bikes seem to be the last home for triple chainsets on the road. David Caudery / Immediate Media
It’s not a big difference but when you’re carrying you, your bike, four bulging panniers and a bar bag up a mountain pass, trust me, you will most definitely want the lowest gear you can get.
There is another Hobootleg model, the Green Monkey, which has bar-end shifters, lower gearing and Tubus panniers to carry heavier loads. The Easy Travel’s rear rack has an 18kg capacity.
I was surprised to see Tektro Oryx cantilevers on a tourer in 2020. These may have been state-of-the-art brakes decades ago – in fact, I upgraded to cantis on my first major tour – but they can’t compete with the brakes on any of the other touring bikes that I had on test.
They’re okay, and they worked well enough in the rain, but on long descents your hands will be working hard to get sufficient braking power. Frankly, fitting them smacks of Cinelli wanting to stand out from the crowd, rather than valuing performance.
Cantilever brakes! The least convincing stoppers on test. David Caudery / Immediate Media
I was more of a fan of the Cinelli handlebar. This not only has flat tops – for long-riding comfort, rather than any aerodynamic advantage – but slightly flared, gravel-style drops for better control on rougher surfaces. That bar contributes to another excellent ride.
The oversized Columbus Cromor double-butted tubing keeps it stiff and efficient with the 37mm WTB Riddler tyres providing a very large volume of air for comfort on tarmac and good grip on gravel and canal paths.
They’re not quick on the road, but when you’re on an extended tour, speed is secondary to comfort and durability.
Cinelli is also taking no chances when it comes to the toughness of the wheels, the Alex DH19 rims coming in a 36-spoke build rarely seen outside of the touring bike world.
The longish metre-plus wheelbase keeps it stable but the Hobootleg isn’t as extreme as some touring bikes and there was a tiny amount of toe overlap with the front mudguard.
When fully loaded this bike serves up a smooth ride. Robert Smith / Immediate Media
Overall, the Cinelli delivers a lovely ride, as you’d hope given its heritage and background.
It’s a weighty beast, but this is only noticeable when you’re riding it unladen. Load it up and the combination of the Columbus Cromor steel frame and fork and the Riddler tyres serves up a smooth-riding feast that never became tiring.
That said, heavy braking does leave your hands and arms feeling the strain – there is good control from the brakes but they lack the immediate power of discs and will, of course, be more affected by rain.
The Hobootleg also made a comfortable if somewhat sedate commuter bike, with the definite advantage that you don’t have to carry anything on your back, and the wheels and tyres will shrug off the very worst of Britain’s cracked winter roads and are just as dependable on light gravel.
Cinelli Hobootleg Easy Travel geometry
Seat angle: 74.5 degrees
Head angle: 71 degrees
Seat tube: 48cm
Top tube: 52.5cm
Head tube: 12.5cm
Fork offset: 5.2cm
Bottom bracket drop: 7cm
Bottom bracket height: 28.3cm
How we tested
This bike was tested against four other top touring bikes that have been designed to let you unlock your inner adventurer.
Other bikes on test: