had times been different, like maybe now, for instance, cino cinelli would have been a pop singer, touring the same circuit as enrico iglesias, and releasing albums to have middle-aged housewives swoon in the comfort of their own living rooms. three years after the war finished, things weren't like that; certainly not in italy for perhaps obvious reasons. a decent alternative was to set up a cycle company, particularly after having been a professional racer for seven years. a particularly successful racer, come to that, winning the tour of the apennines in 1937, the tour of lombardy in 1938 and milan sanremo in 1943. cinelli's interest in the technology of bicycles was brought on by a series of mechanical failures while racing. since nobody else seemed particularly interested in his observations, in 1948, he set up his own company.
something of a family affair, his brother giotto cinelli (not a good name for a pop star) was already in the business of making stems and handlebars from steel, with a factory in florence. cino moved the business to milan which, at the time, was the hub of the italian cycling industry, with about 80 percent of the business being those stems and bars which he was wholesaling through other companies. the move to aluminium alloy was made a bit later than most, as cinelli was concerned about strength in the components. eventually, however, demand for the cinelli 'c' on cycle components increased production from around 5,000 in the 1950s to 7,500 in the sixties. a decade later that production was shelling out 150,000 every year.
steel bicycle frames were never made in quantities of more than 700 per year. the credibility of cinelli cycle frames, however, took a couple of steps up the podium in 1974 when cino designed an aero bike on which ole ritter broke his own hour record. but the principal seller remained the super corsa, which had begun life a year before the company was officially constituted in the late forties.
nowadays, cinelli is owned by the columbus company, still a major supplier of steel tubing to the bicycle industry. this sort of makes sense, as the super corsa is still in production today, lugged together from columbus neuron tubing and with the all but extinct steel threaded steerer. hurrah for tradition. of course, time stands still for no italian component and bicycle manufacturer; much of cinelli's current output has embraced the black gold with its smooth, swooping curves which smack more of molds than craftsmanship. cut most of that stuff in half, however, and i bet the iconic 'c' still holds court.
as to the super corsa, we can but dream, or even give phil at mosquito a ring and ask for a build quote. the frame sells for £1599 ($2650). there is, however, a much cheaper way of alerting the great unwashed to one's membership of the cognoscenti. while it may be uncomfortable for the treks and specializeds of this world, much like lambrettas and gaggia coffee machines, the cinelli brand is iconic enough to be known to the average civilian, even if they'd be hard pushed to define just what a cinelli might be. this much cheaper direction will confer not only cognoscenti-ship, but that of educator to the masses.
richard at urban hunter has had the great foresight to stock his premises with official cinelli merchandise, an example of which can be seen here. emblazoned in reassuringly substantial screened ink is a most attractive retro print, declaring cinelli to be bicicletta milano. i am unaware of any unofficial cinelli merchandise, but the hang tag attached to the sleeve declares this to be of the official variety, reinforced by a cute little 'c' logo on a sleeve tab, and the word cinelli screenprinted below the collar on the back.
t-shirts are rarely my style; the weather never seems to reach melting point up here where wearing such is particularly comfortable, but in this case, i'm honour bound to make an exception. this example simply exudes style, a look i could either destroy or get used to. the cotton is almost disturbingly soft and cosy; wearing seems an almost illicit pleasure. it can also be partnered by other examples featuring variations on the cinelli marque.
cheaper? yes, by £1579 and five pence, compared to a super corsa frameset and available in sizes from small up to x-large. i would if i were you.
posted sunday 29 may 2011