Review: 2011 Cinelli Saetta Carbon Fiber Road Bike, Other Good Cinelli News
Fair warning, this is a “mini” review based on one ride. Ben Coffey, Cinelli’s rep within U.S. importer BTI, swung through Greensboro over the weekend with a cadre of 2011 bikes. As fortune would have it, the only bike in my size (close enough, anyway) happened to be the all-new Saetta, Cinelli’s first completely new carbon mold in years.
Available in two models, the higher end Saetta Sprint and the regular Saetta (tested), they’re meant to be a mid-level, full carbon road bike for any type of riding. Of course, being Italian and being a Cinelli, they’re completely race worthy, and based on my time with it, the Saetta would hold its own on any club ride.
Before we get any further, a couple bits o’ good news for Cinelli and/or Italian bicycle fans:
- 2011 marks the first year Cinelli will offer complete bikes in the U.S. Until now, only framesets have been imported.
- For the time being, you can get the super-high-end, top-of-the line Best Of frames custom built to your measurements with no upcharge. Yes, you read that correctly. Made in Italy custom carbon lug and tube road bikes, just for you, for no extra charge. (Regular, non custom models are made in China, then hand painted and finished in Italy).
- The photo you see above is not how the bike will be spec’d when it’s on sale in the U.S. It’ll have Campagnolo Veloce, a Cinelli-branded wheelset with custom rims from Maddux (they make Mavic’s rims) and Sapim CX-Ray spokes.
Jump past the break for pics, details, pricing and the ride review…
The Saetta frames are brand new for 2011. It’s a full monocoque frame with sloping geometry and CNC’d Columbus forged aluminum dropouts. The higher end Saetta Sprint gets better carbon fibers and is lighter, coming in at 1100g. The base Saetta uses the same mold, but less expensive fibers and weights 1220g (size Medium, both).
The sloping top tube has a slight curve to it, which Coffey says helps dampen vibration and lends a bit of vertical give to the ride. Cinelli took material away from the top tube and put it near the BB to make it stiff where it mattered. Visually, it looks it: The top tube is pretty thin, both from a top down view and from the side.
The Saetta has a new Columbus fork called the Saetta on the base bike has carbon legs and alloy steerer tube. The Sprint (and Pro Estrada) come with a new Columbus Solida full carbon fork. The Saetta fork comes in at 565g, and the Solida is 380g. This puts the total frameset weight difference between the two at 305g (1785g vs. 1480g).
The frames both use a straight 1-1/8″ headtube, however on the Sprint, Cinelli worked with Columbus to develop the Solida fork to have a very stout crown so it would still be stiff. I didn’t get to test that out, but the Saetta / Saetta combo handled corners and rough sections very well.
The stays on the bike are fairly thick, especially as we get more used to seeing the pencil thin seat stays so many manufacturers use to add compliance to their frames. In particular, the chainstays bulge inward at the center, and the lightning bolt masking shows bare carbon. Seriously? Lightning bolts and carbon fiber? That spells wicked fast.
The downtube is very geometrical, creating a tear drop shaped octagon straight out of the headtube and carrying that shape all the way to the BB.
Keeping with the mid-level scheme, the bike uses standard outboard bottom bracket bearings. The extra material and big dimensions of the entire BB junction made for a seemingly efficient ride.
The Saetta complete is $2,999 and includes color-matched Cinelli stem, seatpost and it’ll even probably have a white handlebar, too. Frameset (frame, fork & headset) is $1,999. The Saetta Sprint is available as a frameset only for $2,299 (frame, fork & headset).
This size Large built with American Classic wheels, SRAM Rival, FSA brakes and headset and a Prologo saddle weighed in at 17lbs 1oz. The production spec will bring that down a bit, likely just under 17lbs.
At 6’2″, the Large I rode was a size small for me (even with a 120 or 130 stem on it, I could still see the axle in front of the handlebar in a normal riding position, and my toes hit the wheel when I turned sharply). Judging by the geometry alone, moving from a Large (550mm Eff. Top Tube, 984mm Wheelbase) to an XL (575mm ETT, 994 WB) might still not be enough. The “Traditional Size” measurement of the XL is only stated as 57, and the Large is 54. So, the bikes are on the small side based on naming them L, XL, etc. One final note, I had the seatpost set at it’s maximum height and the saddle that comes on the bike is fairly thick. Putting a lower profile saddle on it would require a longer post.
Sizing issues aside, I really liked the ride of the Saetta.
One of my favorite tests for ride comfort is taking it on the rougher right-of-way sides of the road and the occasional mail-box-postal-truck pull off. On both, the Saetta was smooth didn’t transmit much of the vibration, and it tracked straight.
On the road, it pedaled smooth and didn’t have any noticeable flex when standing up to hammer. Hitting the curves and corners was a particular highlight. You know those cul de sacs that you like to come into hot and see how tight you can cut the turn around? Yeah, this thing rocks those. It rocks them hard. On normal curves and turns, it stays true and smooth and just felt really good coming into the bends.
Sure, it was a short ride, but the new Cinelli Saetta is worth a look if you’re in the market.