The Cinelli company was founded in 1944 by Cino Cinelli, a former professional rider and winner between 1937 and 1943 of many important cycling competitions including the Giro di Lombardia in 1938, the Tre Valli Varesine in 1940, the Italian Championships in 1941 and the prestigious Milan-Sanremo in 1943.
Like many pro riders, Cino Cinelli was a stubborn perfectionist and in just 20 years his company became a leader in the production and sale of handlebars and stems for racing bikes.
Cinelli were the first company to produce aluminium handlebars and the first to produce a full carbon integrated bar and stem (RAM) in 2001. However, Cinelli didn’t stop at handlebars and stems. Cinelli produced the first saddle with a plastic shell and had the patent for the world’s first cage-free (clipless) pedal with the Cinelli M71, widely used in track and time trial racing and produced between 1970 and 1983. Cinelli also produce the legendary Supercorsa frame, still in production in 2022, after 70 years.
In 1978 Cino Cinelli sold his business to the young industrialist Antonio Colombo (president of Columbus Tubi, a world leader company in the production of steel tubes). Antonio Colombo sees in Cinelli products the technical perfection of the most efficient and elegant means of transport ever created. At this point, his goal was to communicate this utopian perfection to the general public. In this regard, design was his main tool.
Cinelli were responsible for the stunningly futuristic Cinelli Lazer which gave cyclists a glimpse into an aero future in 1981. The Lazer track bike won in competitions too, 28 Gold medals at Olympics and World Championships, whilst also artistic enough to warrant a place in the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Handlebars such as the Cinelli Citerium and the classic 1A and 1R (Record, featuring a hidden bolt) stems were popular through the 1980’s. In addition, before hard-shell helmets became a legal requirement in road racing in the UK in 1991, most UK road racers used a Cinelli ‘hairnet’ helmet, many time trialists and track pursuiters chose to use the Cinelli Aerolite helmet. Cinelli were firmly etched into the style-bank of anyone riding road bikes in the 1980’s.
In 1983 Cinelli began production of something which all road riders take for granted, padded cork bar tape. Cinelli Cork Ribbon was the first tape which enabled racers to ride without gloves. Initially only available in a natural colour, this changed in 1985 and colours were introduced, this made cork ribbon very popular. Cork Ribbon is possibly the only cycling product which has remained unchanged from this era, only colour and alternative style options have been introduced. In the same era, but at the opposite end of the bike, Cinelli produced the spoiler bottom bracket shell for lugged frame builds, the bottom bracket shell featured a innovative rearward facing scoop.
The Cinelli Spinacci mini-bar-extensions were popular in the mid 1990’s, selling up to 20,000 pairs per month. Spinacci’s enabled an aero position on regular drop bars, the two extensions were much smaller and lighter than tri-bars and were, amazingly, allowed in road races until they were banned in 1997. However, Spinacci was not the only remarkable product from Cinelli in the 1990’s. The Grammo stem was the lightest quill stem in the world, made from titanium and weighing only 170 grams, the stem was used by Lance Armstrong on his World Championship winning ride in 1993. The Alter stem utilised CNC machining at its finest to produce another iconic stem design, this one was favoured by flamboyant Italian sprinter, Mario Cipolini who had a Pamela Anderson cover fitted on the top, kind of ruining the look, but hey-ho, each to their own…
Art & Bikes
Since Colombo took over the business in 1978, he made Cinelli products contemporary, cutting-edge and artistic, combining for the first time in the history of cycling design, competition and lifestyle. Where style, art and function meet, is where Cinelli sits as a cycling brand today. Its rich history and flair still shines through in today’s Cinelli products, just as it did years ago. Artistic collaberations with artists have featured through Cinelli product lines – a great example being the products featuring the design work of celebrated Califorian tattooist, Mike Giant.
Beards & Bikes
In more recent years, Cinelli became synomynous with fixed wheel riding culture, with their collaboration with MASH based in San Francisco and featuring as the main sponsor of the Redhook Crit (Fixed wheel street racing) for several years. The fixie culture is a worldwide phenomenon and Cinelli are deep in the heart of it, producing classic bikes and accessories sought after by the fixie fans.