Cipollini has officially launched its latest frameset, the RB1K The One, with the flair you would expect from the former world champion.
For example, Mario Cipollini supposedly dreamed about the new features of the updated RB1K The One, including its direct-mount brakes, an adjustable aero post instead of an integrated seat-mast, new aero features and an improved stiffness-to-weight ratio.
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Full spec as tested
- Frame: Cipollini RB1K The One (size Large), T1000.M46J carbon
- Fork: Cipollini RB1K The One, T1000 carbon
- Levers/shifter: Campagnolo Super Record
- Brakes: Campagnolo Super Record
- Front derailleur: Campagnolo Super Record
- Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Super Record
- Cranks: Campagnolo Super Record, 172.5mm, 50/34
- Cassette: Campagnolo Record, 11-27t
- Wheels: Fulcrum Racing Quattro
- Tyres: Vittoria Corsa G+, 23mm
- Handlebars: 3T Ernova
- Stem: 3T ARX, 110mm
- Saddle: Selle Italia Flite Carbon
- Seatpost: Cipollini RB1K The One, frame specific
Some expected updates, all welcomed
Despite not launching a disc version of the RB1K The One, Cipollini offers the next best thing with direct mount caliper brakes, and a claimed tyre clearance of 28mm — although I suspect this may be tight with wider rim selection.
The bike’s predecessor had an integrated seat mast and, while the aero post profile remains, an adjustable post is now introduced via a wedge-style clamp in the top tube, allowing for easier adjustment and transportation.
At the front end of the bike, the headset has been raised by 15mm and paired with an integrated cover to improve airflow. The design is also seen on Cipollini’s NK1K model and allows a comfier position without the need for spacers under the stem. My head tube measured 133mm in a size large.
The RB1K The One also has a stiff new fork design.
As with seemingly all new bike launches, Cipollini had the usual ‘lighter’ and ‘stiffer’ statements. The RB1K The One claims to come in at around 120 grams lighter and a massive 20 percent more rigid than the old version, with a claimed weight of 950 grams in an unpainted size medium.
The monocoque frame is also one of the few remaining high-end Italian frames that is still made in Italy.
First impressions: fast, fun and stiff
Just north of Verona, in the famous Valpolicella wine region, I took the Cipollini RB1K The One on two rides.
The region is by no means mountainous, but a 4km climb averaging 5.2 percent was enough to get an idea of the bike’s climbing prowess, and 100km of rolling roads over the two rides gave early indications of the bike’s performance.
I did the Pendola climb twice, see the first ascent here. The first time I got into the red, staying in the 50t ring, and the second time I span the gears while staying in the 34t ring. The rigid rear end felt planted and efficient with both pedalling styles.
When descending, the bike urges you to commit to the corners and repays your confidence with sharp and stable handling.
As we peeled away from the narrow roads and switchbacks, wider and longer roads meant higher speeds and the compact crankset let the bike down slightly. A semi-compact 52/36t may complement the bike better.
The Italian road surface is a mixed bag that offers smooth, sticky black asphalt and potholed, loose surfaces in equal measure. The rear end of the RB1K The One never felt harsh, even when hitting a pothole square-on after being distracted from the incredible scenery.
However, the new fork design’s stability and responsiveness may come at the cost of a distinct amount of compliance. The traditional sweep of older fork designs offered a degree of flex, but by flipping this this comfort is perhaps lost.
This lack of damping on the front end was by no means extreme, but my hands and wrists got to know more of the Italian road surface after a few hours than I would have liked.
The 11-speed Campagnolo Super Record mechanical groupset feels at home on this Italian-built frame. The different sweeps and curves of the frame are almost replicated with the aesthetics of the groupset.
The latest Shimano Dura-Ace is — in my opinion — a better groupset, but if I were to buy this bike it would have to be fitted with Campagnolo.
The Fulcrum Racing Quattro aluminium clinchers are more than capable and are brilliant wheels, although for a frame at this price point, alongside a range topping groupset, I would also have preferred to pair the bike with an equally serious set of wheels. On the plus side, Vittoria’s Corsa G+ clinchers were faultless as ever.
The parallels that run with this Italian superbike and a modern Italian supercar are unlikely to be coincidence. While stopping for a quick rest in the town of Lazise on Lake Garda, an elderly Italian gentleman walking past us stopped in his tracks and uttered the word Cipollini in awe, in much the same way as people would stop and stare at a parked up Lamborghini.
Also, like a technologically advanced modern supercar, you can ride the RB1K The One at a relaxed pace, take in the countryside and enjoy the fresh air. But if you want to get anti-social, get the blood pumping and push the bike to the max, the RB1K The One will respond to whatever you can throw at it.
Pricing and availability
The Cipollini RB1K The One is sold as a frame and forks, including a head set, seatpost, cages and bottles, and is priced at €5,300 / £4,700 / $TBC.