Cinelli are a classic Italian bike company packed full of heritage and know-how. Famous for their 1980s bar-and-stem combos, which accompanied the likes of Hinault, Fignon, Lemond, Cipollini and Lance Armstrong to victory, they have since teamed up with tubing experts Columbus to produce a range of frames.
The Estrada holds the 3rd spot in the Cinelli bike line, and provides a comfortable ride without sacrificing speed or quick handling. For the money we would have expected a slightly higher specced groupset. However, you will not be upset by the performance or quality of the Campagnolo Centaur kit provided.
Ride & handling: Stable on the flat, nimble on the ups and well planted on the downs
A bulk of the testing miles were done during two weeks' training in the Côtes de Provence in the south of France. The coast provides perfect flat roads, but turn inland and you are quickly greeted by an array of challenging climbs. One of our favoured 55km loops took in a good 14km ride along the coast to the bottom of a 500m, 12.5km-long climb. On the flat sections the Estrada was stable and cruised along with ease. While on the drops and putting the power down, the tubing around the bottom bracket area was stiff enough for it to feel like our efforts were directly converted into speed.
We were pleasantly surprised when turning inland and tackling the climbs. Belying its bulky look, out of the saddle the Estrada was a nimble and responsive climber. Sat in the saddle, it was a direct, no-nonsense workhorse.
Cresting the summit and swooping down the other side to the valley below, the Estrada was well planted, safe and a non-twitchy desender. We really liked the direct feel of Cinelli's straight Tusk forks and felt they complemented the compact geometry perfectly. When on the drops and speeding around the hairpins we found the bike benefited from spreading your weight evenly but planted further back than on many bikes, as we found our derriere was overhanging the saddle more than usual.
Frame and forks: Chunky tubes and flashy paintwork won't suit shrinking violets
The Estrada boasts a carbon monocoque frame with compact geometry. At first sight the round, oversized Columbus XLR8R carbon tubing looks a little bulky, with the 32mm diameter down tube being as thick as the head tube. A 22mm diameter top tube prevents it looking too overbuilt and ensures you won’t bang the insides of your knees. Curved wishbone seatstays flow down to cast dropouts and a replaceable CNC’d rear mech hanger. However bulky the chassis looks, it doesn’t reflect at all in the ride.
Unusually for a high-end Italian bike, the Estrada is specced with English bottom bracket threads rather than Italian ones. Up front, the frame is paired with a Cinelli Tusk carbon monocoque fork which gives the bike an extra-sleek, race-ready look and direct feel.
There is a lot of carbon tubing on show alongside the layered white-and-black chequered paintwork (Team Bianca colours). This makes for an eyecatching finish, as is the Italian way, and won’t be to everybody’s tastes. But fear not, as those of you with Henry Ford-like tastes have the option of a plain black and carbon finish!
Equipment: Campag gruppo punches above its weight
As is to be expected from an Italian-made bike, the Estrada sports a Campag groupset, in this case a full Centaur 10-speed groupo. Centaur is third in line in the Campag range and is comparable to Shimano 105. It really punched above its weight in terms of feel and looks, as well as oozing Italian class. Standout points were the beautifully smooth shifting QS levers and super-powerful ‘skeleton’ brake calipers.
True to Cinelli’s heritage, their own Ram full-carbon bar and Neo CK carbon-wrapped alloy stem take care of the steering. We liked the positioning and feel the bar gave, with its wider ergonomically shaped top section to provide more palm support, coupled with a classic ‘non-anatomical’-style rounded sweep to the shallow drops. Wrapped up, of course, with quality Cinelli cork tape.
The 31.6mm Ram carbon seatpost finishes the Cinelli family affair. The size makes it extra stiff, which we liked. However, towards the clamp it splits in two, creating a prong which widens the post at a point where people with wide thighs can already experience rubbing. Maybe a case of design over function? It's topped off with a comfortable Selle Italia Filante saddle.
Mavic Kysrium Elite wheels sport 18 straight-pull, steel-bladed spokes on the front and 20 on the rear, the front being radially laced and the rear radial on the driveside but cross-laced on the left. Any spoke adjustment is done via the nipple on the outside, leaving the inside of the rim without holes and removing the need for rim tape. The Elites strike a good balance between durability and weight (752g front, 930g rear), featuring trickle-down technologies from the top ‘pro peleton’ standard R-SYS Premium and SL models. On the road they are suitably stiff, accelerate well and handle nicely.
The Vredestain Fortezza tyres feature a single compound tread and are well respected for their longevity and puncture resisting capabilities. The downside is that they are a tad on the heavy side. However, they roll nicely and grip well in all the conditions we encountered. Overall, the wheel and tyre combo strike a good, durable ‘do it all’ balance for riders, light or heavy, who want to use the same setup come training or race day.