Cinelli - Quality and passion, the motto of the company

Quality is the motto of the company, founded by Cino Cinelli, a former professional road racer. He built a reputation for producing pioneering bicycles and components, including the quick-release pedal M71, the first plastic-bodied saddle (the Unicanitor), and the iconic Supercorsa.

Cinelli the cyclist

In 1944 Cino Cinelli had won the most important Italian competitions. But the most significant story does not concern a victory, but a defeat during the Italian championship in 1942.

Cinelli was in the final for the national pursuit title against Fausto Coppi, who at the time was at the beginning of his career. Coppi was the favourite for the race, but during the pre-race warm-up, he fell and broke his collarbone. Cinelli should've been awarded the title in a ride over. But he showed sportsmanship and decided to wait for his rival to heal. In October, Coppi won the race.

The sense of honour has always been important to Cinelli, as a cyclist first, and then as a bike manufacturer.



The Supercorsa

1948 - Cino Cinelli founded his company. It sold wholesale other manufacturers' components and produced its own, and also built bicycles. One of them would become a legend.

The '50s - Cino and the framebuilder Luigi Valsassina designed the iconic Supercorsa. Their goal was "the perfect functional harmony between the three main parts of the frame: fork, main triangle, and chainstay." This harmony could be achieved by combining stiffness, elasticity, aerodynamics and aesthetics.

The '60s - After lengthy experimentation, Cinelli and Valsassina found the solution. The proprietary sloping fork crown, the double-bolt fastback seat stays pointed lugs and the excellent Italian stage racing geometry.

Since then, the Supercorsa has undergone only two modifications. In 1979 Italo Lupi designed a new graphic for the frame, that complemented the introduction of the winged C of Cinelli logo.

And in 1984 they introduced the Cinelli Spoiler bottom bracket, the only die-cast frame part to ever be granted a patent.

Even the American business magnate Steve Jobs wanted a Supercorsa. In an interview, he said that a computer is the equivalent of a bicycle for our minds. When he was looking for a distributor for Macintosh in Italy, he visited Cinelli plant and finally bought the bike of his dreams.



The first innovations

Cinelli introduced innovations for the saddle, pedals, and handlebar. He collaborated with Tommaso Nieddu to produce the Unicanitor, the first plastic-bodied saddle.

1971- Cinelli designed the M71, the first quick-release pedal.

1974 - Cinelli designed an aerodynamic bike on which Ole Ritter tapped his own hour record.

Colombo acquires Cinelli

1978 - The presidency of the company passes to Antonio Colombo, owner of Columbus tubing. Cino Cinelli, who was 62, retired to a villa in Tuscany where he began cultivating olives.

1979 - The company presented a prototype of the Laser, made entirely of steel and futuristic design. It became available only in 1983 and was soon a success. It was the pinnacle of Italian frame building, winning more track world championship and Olympic gold medals than any other bicycle in the history of this sport.



Problems with the Innovation

1993 - Introduction of Spinach. They were shorter than the traditional appendices. They were applied to the normal handlebars and offered advantages both uphill and flat.

1994 - UCI approved the use in competitions and sales went so well that Cinelli opened a new factory to meet the demand.

But in 1997 Jean-Marie LeBlanc, general director of the Tour de France, blamed the Spinach and carbon rays wheels for the many falls during the first stages of the race.

Then UCI put out the appendices, ignoring the possibility that the more sophisticated doping substances might be the cause of some of those falls.



The comeback

The company was hit pretty hard by the abolition of the appendices, but it was saved by urban cycling.

2000 - Cinelli presented the Bootleg, a fashionable bicycle for non-professional cyclists.

2001 - Introduction of Rampichino, Europe's first-ever mountain bike, and RAM, the world's first single-piece carbon fiber integrated handlebar and stem.

Over the years, many of the greatest champions have been used Cinelli's products, and Cino's immaculate reputation and integrity have certainly made his company one of the most admired in cycling.



(1) Cino Cinelli
(2) Steve Jobs and Antonio Colombo (and a beautiful Supercorsa!)
(3) Antonio Colombo, Eric Clapton and his red Cinelli Supercorsa (Cinelli Store Milan 1985)
(4) Cinelli Laser (1982)
(5) Cinelli road bike frame (1965)

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1 comment

  • Rachel Pousson

    From this great article, now I am curious about the innovations mentioned in it – the quick-release pedal, the Spinach, etc. I will do some research on each of these subjects. Cycling makes for fantastic historical reading!

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