The moment you step into the Cinelli offices it is plane to see they are not the usual bicycle company. Founded in 1948 by former racer Cino Cinelli, they are now part of a larger company that also owns Columbus tubing, sharing both offices and factory space as well as their president; Antonio Colombo.
Podia is shown around by Federico, a designer for Cinelli, who in a previous career worked in photography. For a designer who likes cycling, there is no better place to be; and this is what makes Cinelli unusual.
Federico leads us to a special place in the Cinelli production offices where Anotonio is waiting to explain what the company has been through and where they are now.
When the cycle industry started to favour alloy and carbon for frame materials, it left the main part of Colombo’s business in a precarious position. They went from producing 2 million steel tubes for various cycle companies, to considerably less. More emphasis was then placed on Cinelli for component and frame production to take up the total production excess, but for this to happen the Cinelli brand needed to work harder
Cinelli have always pushed the limits of cycle design, but it was a chance meeting with cycle couriers in the US that would put them back in the forefront of people’s attention. It all started with a series of collaborations with MASH. Antonio explains that they understood how the fixie and track sub-cultures were the new blood, breathing life back into an ageing bike mainstream. ‘Big industry should say a big thank you to those guys’ he explains.
Indeed Cinelli are now firmly planted in the track and criterium scene thanks to their collaborative approach and emphasis on great graphic design. What’s more, with recent frame releases they are starting to bring their flavour of design back to the mainstream.
Cinelli have now a range of alloy and carbon road frames, with the high end topped off by the ‘Very Best Of’ – a race spec’d carbon monoque frame.
The ‘Very Best Of’ seems to be just as the name implies and Antonio also believes this. ‘Our high end carbon frame is more than capable of being ridden at a Grand Tour, but the amount of money required to sponsor a World Tour team is too big for us’.
The Columbus tube business has also seen a resurgence, albeit in a different way. The boom in custom frame makers has meant a bigger demand in their Xcr stainless steel tubes but as Antonio tells us ‘There are more orders but at smaller volumes, and each producer wants something different and exclusive. But we are happy to help them by showing how our different tubes perform’.