£1649.99 › Cinelli, Cam­pag­nolo – two clas­sic Ital­ian mar­ques – car­bon and an at­trac­tive price

Cycling Plus - - ROAD TEST -

While Cam­pag­nolo dates back to 1933, Cinelli is a lit­tle younger but still cel­e­brates its 70th birth­day in 2018. The Saetta frame has been around a while and has long rep­re­sented one of the best-value routes into Cam­pag­nolo-equipped car­bon road bikes. Cinelli and Cam­pag­nolo are joined by other Ital­ian out­fits Miche and Kappa in kit­ting out the 2019 Saetta Italo. The alu­minium cock­pit com­po­nents are Cinelli’s, with all brands dis­trib­uted by Chicken Cy­clekit.

Cinelli’s Saetta Italo comes with Cam­pag­nolo’s Cen­taur, the brand’s 11-speed setup de­signed to com­pete against Shi­mano 105, both cost­ing around £400. It lacks car­bon but is me­chan­i­cally pretty much iden­ti­cal to the £735 Potenza (Cam­pag­nolo’s Ul­te­gra com­peti­tor) and Cho­rus.

The Cinelli cock­pit com­po­nents, Miche Race chain­set and wheels ma­jor on tough­ness rather than low weight and the Miche gear com­ple­ments the Cinelli’s looks. The Saetta’s 8.65kg is rea­son­able; and the 1630g frame­set weight is fine, if no longer cut­ting edge – though such is the ride qual­ity you rarely no­tice the few ex­tra grams.

Most of the bikes in this test ma­jor on speed but this has en­durance and long-dis­tance com­fort in mind. Cinelli puts this down to ‘Skele­tal Ef­fi­ciency Phi­los­o­phy’, so the top­tube is thin­ner at the cen­tre, like a skele­ton, re­duc­ing weight with­out com­pro­mis­ing strength. The joints, such as the bot­tom bracket area, are strength­ened, while the curved seat­stays im­prove the car­bon lam­i­na­tion. That’s Cinelli’s spiel, and while nat­u­rally cyn­i­cal about bike man­u­fac­tur­ers’ love of tech­s­peak, it re­ally does seem to work.

From the very first ride this smoothed out some of our rougher lo­cal roads and there were no

han­dling hic­cups even on some gravel-sur­faced Sus­trans routes. Oc­ca­sional mod­er­ate tow­path-type for­ays are eas­ily within the Cinelli’s re­mit. Com­pared with the other test bikes it might be slightly slower up hills, but it doesn’t lose out on the de­scents, the frame, fork and wheels stiff enough for rapid and con­trolled changes of di­rec­tion. But it’s most at home tap­ping out the miles reg­u­larly at a de­cent lick, rolling sportives, cen­tury rides and the like.

The over­size seat­post doesn’t seem to have a neg­a­tive im­pact on com­fort, pre­sum­ably thanks to the frame’s car­bon layup, ge­om­e­try and Prol­ogo sad­dle. We had no com­plaints about the cock­pit ei­ther, its straight­for­ward en­try-level al­loy bar and stem do a good job.

Cam­pag­nolo’s Cen­taur pro­vides crisp, ac­cu­rate shifts that of­fer a solid ‘clunk’ and greater feed­back than Shi­mano’s some­what softer- shift­ing levers. Bet­ter or worse than Shi­mano (or SRAM)? Nei­ther, it works very well, just dif­fer­ently, though the 12-27 cas­sette might leave you search­ing for a big­ger sprocket on the steep­est climbs. We were also a lit­tle sur­prised to see non-car­tridge brakes – usu­ally the prov­ince of en­try-level bikes – but the brak­ing was very good, and would be im­proved fur­ther with in­ex­pen­sive car­tridge blocks.

The Saetta may not be the new­est car­bon kid around, but it’s still a very good de­sign – com­fort­able, com­posed, el­e­gantly fin­ished and some Latin class.

The Cinelli cock­pit com­po­nents, Miche Race chain­set and wheels ma­jor on tough­ness

Be­low Miche Per­for­mance brakes could be im­proved with car­tridge blocks Bot­tom Com­fort didn’t suf­fer even with the over­sized alu­minium seat­post

From the very first ride this smoothed out some of our rougher lo­cal roads

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