The Cinelli Pressure has loads of personality, and not just because of the punk paintjob. However, the budget components, particularly the wheels, make it feel rather ordinary. Lighter wheels gave it some of its attitude back, but obviously would put the price up beyond £3,799. It’s not often we actually want a bike to be more expensive, but with Di2 and lighter wheels this bike would be closer to finding its true (London) calling.
Punk art and concept
Heavy-feeling shifting and braking
Budget components mixed with Ultegra
By Simon Smythe
Launched at the end of last year, the Cinelli Pressure is, according to the Italian brand, a “new born Cinelli aerodynamic racing frame [that] integrates anything possible.” It’s fair to say Cinelli invented the aerodynamic frame: its iconic Laser, launched in 1981, was years ahead of its time and still influences bike design now.
But Cinelli has gone back two years earlier to 1979 for its latest aero bike’s inspiration. The ‘Pressure’ name is taken from Clash bass player Paul Simonon’s Fender Precision, famously photographed mid-smash on the cover of the London Calling album, and under the bottom bracket shell is a replica of the sticker on the bass.
Yes, an unusual mix of punk and road cycling, but well done Cinelli for sticking two fingers up at bikes called ‘Aero Race SL’.
Cinelli Pressure: frame
Back in the garage with our BS detector (I know, wrong Clash album) we discovered that the Pressure is ‘open mould’ - ie not Cinelli’s own design. We asked Cinelli about it at the time of the bike’s launch, and this was the answer: “Our R&D department has been working on an aero frame project for quite a while but a full development on our own was not proportional to Cinelli’s size, in terms of investment and market. So Pressure is the result of a shared project, together with our supplier.” We say that’s fair enough.
Regardless of who owns the mould, the 990g monocoque frame, which is made from Toray T700 carbon-fibre, is designed to be aerodynamic, with wind drag further reduced by ‘end to end’ internal routing of all cables.
Cinelli has used FSA’s ACR system of routing all cables internally through the steerer tube with none visible at the front end at all. You don’t need us to tell you that although it looks super clean it’s not so straightforward to work on.
The seatpost clamp bolt is cleverly hidden under the rear of the top tube - and that works well; much better than the type that’s covered by a (usually wonky) rubber boot.
Cinelli hasn’t gone punk with the geometry - the size M has a stack/reach ratio of exactly 1.4, which is in line with race bikes such as the Giant TCR Advanced if not slightly more aggressive (the average is around 1.44). The chainstays are the classic 410mm, the wheelbase 990mm. The seat tube is at 73.5deg and the head tube angle is a stable 72deg.
OK, it’s a real mixed bag here and risks turning the cheeky little smiley behind the fork crown into a frowny - but clearly this UK-only spec has a target price point to hit.
The groupset is based on Ultegra but the chainset is a cheaper FSA Gossamer compact and the STIs are non-series Shimano.
It's probably the Vision Team 30 aluminium deep-section wheels that save the most money but, as is always the way, add the most weight. On the scales these weighed 1,953g.
The Schwalbe One TLE 28mm tyres do their best to save the day - but at 9.4kg it’s going to take more than good-quality rubber. For a punk bike it’s heavy, man.
The Cinelli Winged saddle is comfortable - saddles that aren't stubby or don't have cutouts are becoming rarer, but this one worked for me.
Cinelli Pressure: the ride
Although my first ride on the Cinelli Pressure wasn’t actually slow overall, I felt as though the bike was absorbing energy rather than converting it into forward motion. The Cinelli Pressure is stiff, but stiff and heavy isn’t an ideal combination for a bike. Even the shifting felt stiff and heavy, particularly from the little ring into the big ring - and the braking felt more mechanical than hydraulic. I put this down to the internal routing, particularly the sharp bend the cables have to make inside the head tube.
I was testing the FFWD Ryot 55 wheels at the same time, so I swapped them in. Despite not being featherweight themselves (vs the competition), along with lighter Pirelli P Zero Race 26mm tyres, these instantly saved 600g, and also allowed me to ride a Clash-themed bike with wheels called Ryot.
The FFWD wheels retail at £1,324 compared to the £219 of the Vision Team 30 wheels so it’s unrealistic to expect these to be included for £3,799, but if you already have a set of ‘best’ wheels they’ll transform the Cinelli Pressure’s ride.
My next two-hour ride was much better. Admittedly only 0.1mph faster over the same 40-mile loop but with a vastly improved feel.
As we know, you have to be going up a very steep slope for 600g to make a significant difference, which is why the two rides over the same 40 miles with different wheels were so close in speed but incomparable in ride experience. It set me wondering what the Cinelli Pressure would be like with a higher spec designed for a higher price point, and I bet it would be a great bike.
Value and conclusion
As things stand the Cinelli Pressure doesn't represent best value for money. We recently reviewed the Vitus ZX-1 Evo CRS with SRAM Force eTap AXS at £4,199 but there is a Rival eTap AXS version that costs £3,599 which undoubtedly offers good value if you have around £3.5K to spend.
The Ultegra-equipped Giant TCR Advanced Pro Disc 1 costs £4,199 but gets an excellent set of carbon wheels; the Giant TCR Advanced Pro Disc 2 is fitted with Shimano 105 but gets the same Giant SLR-1 carbon wheels and costs £3,499.
Or the BMC Roadmachine costs £3,600 and runs on Ultegra but, like the Cinelli, gets aluminium wheels.
The Cinelli Pressure has a lot of appeal: it's something different and original, the geometry is good and it looks great and it's no slouch performance wise, even without the wheel upgrade. And it has the famous Cinelli name and winged C on the down tube of course. But if you're looking for best value for money, compared to what else is on the market at this price it doesn't quite cut it.
For more road bike buying ideas, check out our buyer's guide.
|Frame||Toray T700 carbon|
|Fork||Columbus disc 1 1/8-1 1/2|
|Disc brakes||Shimano Ultegra|
|Chainset||FSA Gossamer 50/34|
|Wheels||Vision Team 30 alu|
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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