The first bicycles to bear the Cinelli name were the work of Giotto Cinelli, and were produced in Firenze in 1946 and 1947. Giotto’s brother Arrigo was also in the cycle business, and crafted fine stems in steel which today command premium prices from dedicated collectors.
However, it was younger brother Cino who would make the family name one with global renown, after moving the business from Firenze to Milano during the 1950s.
Cino Cinelli was a successful road racing cyclist who achieved notable victories such as first place in the Milan-San Remo of 1943. His experience in the saddle formed his philosophy regarding bicycle frames, which he felt needed to be stiffened and the geometry made more aggressive than was the style of the period. Making the steering angle steeper also made it possible to shorten and thus stiffen the fork blades. This shorter wheelbase racing geometry was to become the standard across the industry. Another innovation by Cinelli that has been adopted by many other manufacturers was his seat collar design which tucked the top of the seat stays behind the lug rather than alongside the seat tube. These then radical design innovations were debuted by none other than Fausto Coppi during the 1947 season. Cinelli’s classic frameset, the Cinelli Supercorsa, is amongst the most iconic racing frames of the 20th century.
Along with Campagnolo, Cinelli’s precision lugs and bottom bracket shells formed the basis of virtually every pro-grade racing bike throughout the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, in addition to the finely-crafted stems and handlebars that came from the Milanese workshop. After the company was sold to Antonio Colombo in 1978, the Cinelli brand continued to go from strength to strength. The aerodynamic Cinelli Laser (1984) pioneered the use of sloping top tubes to maximise performance in time trials. Ole Ritter set a new Hour Record in 1986 on a Laser with custom-made 2cm-narrowed Campagnolo hubs, enabling a narrower profile which further reduced aerodynamic drag. Even the ‘cork’ handlebar tape that adorns virtually every modern racing bike was first invented by Cinelli.
Under Colombo’s stewardship, Cinelli continues to appeal to a new generation of cyclists, including high profile collaborations with artists and enthusiasts such as MASH of San Francisco, with whom Cinelli was quick to capitalise upon the recent renaissance of the fixed gear bike. The company is also closely associated with events such as the Red Hook Criterium. We prefer to focus on the classic examples (Cinelli Pista and Supercorsa) from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s. We are also fascinated by the frames made by the contract builders that Cinelli employed during this period, such as Mario Camilotto and Giovanni Losa, who would go on to open their own low volume workshops.
Despite manufacturing hundreds of thousands of stems and handlebars during this time, Cinelli’s annual frame production remained miniscule by comparison. For this reason, a classic Cinelli frame remains a timeless icon of style to this day.
Top Cinelli models
Cinelli Model A (Amateur), Cinelli Model B, Cinelli Model C (Super Corsa), Cinelli Pista, Cinelli Piccolo, Cinelli Riviera, Cinelli Tandem, Cinelli Laser, Cinelli Laser America, Cinelli Laser Crono, Cinelli Laser Pista, Cinelli Laser Stayer, Cinelli Laser Tandem. Main triangle built with Reynolds 531 and the fork and stays in double butted Columbus steel, Cinelli bottom bracket shell, Cinelli lugs and fork crown.