Cinelli Factory Visit

I think you’ll understand this. I’ve had my Colnago on the road now for some years (it’s a ’59’ and we’re now up to ’68’), so the itch to buy a new bike has been approaching uncontrollable levels for a couple of years. You know the story if you’ve been following along, but the short of it is, I found the perfect solution to all my problems with the Nemo Tig Gravel.

  • I will finally be riding a 1x, which I’ve been moaning about even longer than I’ve been itching for a new bike.
  • I get to try disc brakes without actually choosing to buy them – with gravel riding it seems not even to be an option to go without.
  • After decades without one, I will have a steel bike again.
  • I get that new bike (now I need to find a place for it in the apartment)
  • And last but not least, I am able to own a made-to-order frame set, crafted with care and artisanal skill in Italy

And then there’s the great excuse to drive to Milan so I could pick up my new bike direct from the factory.

Paolo Bailetti, former pro rider, instigator of the Nemo range of bikes and head of global sales for Cinelli, was gracious enough to meet me and Shoko and give us a thorough tour of both the Cinelli and Columbus Steel spaces. Here I am, listening to Paolo talk about the storied history of the brand and his career as a pro rider, and me, trying my damndest not to ask moronic questions.

Cinelli, founded in 1947 by ex-pro Cino Cinelli, started as a components maker, but soon began creating bikes, including the iconic (and still for sale today) Supercorsa. Here’s a line of them and more, parked near the entrance of the factory.

Cinelli’s ‘gravel bike’ from the late 80s. Notice the flared bars – only took 30 years for that to catch on

In 1979, along came Antonio Colombo, owner of possibly the most famous steel tube maker out there – Columbus, who bought Cinelli and infused the brand with the endearing style we still see today (read this article to dive deeper into the Cinelli-Columbo connection..it even includes Eddy Merckx!). Art is everywhere you go at Cinelli and is present in half the photos Shoko took on our visit.

Antonio is an ardent supporter of contemporary artists and even owns a gallery in Milan that we will have to wait till my next bike in order to visit. If you are in the market for some seriously colorful bike kit or accessories, check out Cinelli’s online store and warm up the credit card.

After Cinelli, we turned right and entered the universe of Columbus. Immediately you have the impression of being in an industrial space. It’s big, bright, just noisy enough, and serious. It has to be serious because to achieve Columbus’ famous thinness, steel tubes are drawn up to 15 times, which takes skill and experience. We weren’t allowed into the inner sanctum because of safety reasons, but Shoko had some foresight and brought along the zoom lens.

By the time we got finished with Columbus, I had half forgotten the reason we’d driven 7 hours to Milan in the first place. There were a lot of distractions.

But my new Nemo was indeed hanging on a bike rack, newly and generously packed with white grease gently oozing out of a couple of joints. Paolo said it was literally just finished before we arrived. After making a couple of adjustments, followed by a test spin in the parking lot outside, we were on the road back to France, me mostly wondering where the heck I was going to ride this thing now that I have it.

More on that soon, if I don’t break my neck first.

8 thoughts on “Cinelli Factory Visit

  1. Gerry, this is a great article. Any accident that the new bike is blue?? Congratulations on the new bike. Talk soon! Eric the Flatlander.

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