Friday Group Ride #53

The Cinelli Best Of

I often have friends and co-workers approach me for advice on buying a new bicycle. This is a little bit like approaching Buzz Aldrin for advice on space travel. So much of what I say to them makes no sense, because our contexts are starkly different. I come from Planet Bicycle. They come from Planet Earth.

The Flandria Competition

Once I’m done issuing forth with a quick discursive on componentry and frame materials, which sounds to them like, “bloop, blorg, bleep,” I end up saying what I really believe, which is, “You should buy the bike that you think looks the best.” The truth, in my opinion, is that for non-bicycle people, most bikes are just the same. This is certainly true at the lower price points they are usually considering. The materials and components on offer are so similar that choosing among them becomes awfully difficult unless you’re willing to abandon yourself to aesthetics.

The Ritte Bosberg

It might seem as though I don’t take their requests very seriously, but quite to the contrary, what I really, really wish for is to convert this unsuspecting earthling into a bike person. I want them to fall in love with their bike and with cycling, and become one of us.

And like any love, it starts with attraction. The paint is as crucial as the cranks. Believe it.

And so this week’s Group Ride is about the bikes that we think look best. I’ve posted some of my favorites here. What are yours?

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  1. James

    I think the most beautiful bikes are the old steel frames with their thin tubes. That being said my favorite is the Gios Professional…and would you believe it if I told you I have one hanging on my wall in my bedroom?! The Gios blue is, to me, the best bicycle color ever, bar none. That color combined with simple white panels on the down and seat tube with the Gios name and the Italian tri color bands at the top and bottom of the panels- simple but exquisite! I raced that bike years ago but now it is art! Bellissima!

  2. Forrest

    I tell friends and co-workers that they’ve got to like the color or their bike. For me, the color of a bike should be inviting, like the look of a dog with a tennis ball, prompting its owner to get outside and have some fun.

    My everyday ride is an Italian steel bike in “Torelli Orange” by Mondonico. I seldom fail to have fun.

  3. Bryan Lewis

    Agreed, orange rocks. With blue accents. Here’s someone else’s photo, someone who doesn’t realize they really need blue velvet Fizik bar tape.

    Maybe it’s a knock-off of Molteni Orange. I bought it without much thought ’cause it was what the LBS was selling for a cheap fixie at the time (after giving up on my more expensive attempt to build from parts), but it draws frequent compliments and it’s fun on every ride.

  4. Jim

    Wilier Cento or a matte black De Rosa King 3 w/t red or greed dropouts. Drop dead gorgeous bikes. For older ones… A Colnago Master X Light. Just looks right.

  5. TFT

    Truth be told. The mass produced bikes I like the most are the ones that lack all the bling-blam (Cannodale has done a great job with BBQ black and black decals)

    Dave Wages – Ellis Bikes (custom)
    Engine. (tig steel)
    Carl Strong (ti)
    SpeedVagen (except for the most recent Surprise Me)

    Some of the sexiest bikes I’ve seen . . . ever . . .

    In the end, I want a bike that will look just as good beat up as it will brand new.

  6. Nom

    Don’t you just love the subtle branding on these modern bikes. Try to visualise a car put together by bike manufacturers, with every component labelled in huge letters. Fine for Nascar, but I would not drive one. The bikes have really beautiful lines, but to me they are spoiled by all the advertising.

  7. 68GT

    Pinarello Dogma in black on black or black/red/silver combo

    Parlee Z5 in pearl white

    Moots Vamoots RSL with Brooks tan leather saddle and matching bar tape.

    e basta!

  8. Chefesque

    That Bosburg is sweet, but I think the white is even better.

    I am quite fond of my Cyfac Elan custom painted white with sky and dark blue accents (including sky blue on the inside of the fork legs, subtle but exquisite).

    There is something truly beautiful about a steel bike, it may not be the lightest or the stiffest in the bottom bracket, but boy are they nice to ride, and even nicer to look at.

  9. Lachlan

    low colour variation Colnagos (ie mostly black or mostly white)
    low colour variation Cervelos (but this time just the nearly completely black ones: SLC SL and R5California)

    Its OK to be bold in my book, but bold and busy? Always a design mistake, and one that sadly bikes and bike clothing often make.

  10. AndrewB

    Having come to cycling in the late 80’s, lugged steel frames are the most appealing to me, and Richard Sachs frames just nail the aesthetic perfectly, with fine, hand-wrought details, flawless Joe Bell paint with panels and contrasting color filling the lug cutouts. Just perfect.

  11. Phil

    I must confess to having a preference for the traditional horizontal top tube on a road bike, rather than the newer sloping/compact geometry frames that are produced these days. To provide a juxtaposition for this however, I present a Specialized ridden by Todd Crux (it’s a cross bike, but I’d love it in a road version):

    Here’s the Specialized Allez Double Steel (the 2010 model which was only $599, but the 2011 has gone up to over $700 with no major changes from what i’ve seen):

    As you can see, I like red bikes. Plus, I’ve watched American Flyers more times than I can count, and despite all the poor acting in parts, I want nothing more than to be able to ride in those locations.

    However, here’s one sloping geometry frame that I do like. It comprises of some titanium, Campagnolo parts and minimal branding:

    There’s a few others I’d post, but I think I’ve written enough for now.

  12. Doug P

    Belgian pretenders, be they British based or California based renditions of Asian frames, don’t do much for me, but the Cinelli, be it Asian built or not, at least is true to its merchandising.

    1. Padraig

      Blacksocks: You should meet winemaker Robert Nadeau (Nadeau Family Vintners) in Paso Robles. He has a Telekom Pinarello that he built up nicely.

      My taste in beautiful is informed heavily by the work of Joe Bell, Brian Baylis and the good folks at Spectrum Powderworks. That said, I think the graphic designers at Specialized and Felt do a very fine job as well. But there’s nothing like a great paint job. Oh, and Spencer’s design work on the paint for the Ritte frames is also spot-on.

  13. sophrosune

    I like the BMC Impec with the red lugs. As an exclusively Italian bike owner, many of the Italian makers have a nice sense of design. 😉

  14. cs124

    I wouldn’t give a Pedalforce a second look but that Ritte looks great. Amazing what a classy graphics package can do…

  15. Armybikerider

    I’m with Nom. All the loud advertising (aka decals) just screams too loud for me. I like the muted (some say boring) look of unpainted ti. Pick any manufacturer, slap on some black outline decals (if any) and I’m happy with the outcome. I’m sure that speaks volumes about my personality!

  16. Mr. Blue Sky

    Plus 1 on Wilier Izoard. Italian art, and ooh, the ride! Elegant lines, exquisite shapes, sublime handling and acceleration. Photos can’t do it justice.
    Made in Italy, priced comparable to Taiwanese made maachines. LOVE that thing!

  17. MattyVT

    In some ways I have split preference for bike aesthetics. I have to admit that I like the full on NASCAR-style swoopy graphics and numerous sponsor decals of the Liquigas or older Saeco Cannondales. The T-Mobile Giants and HTC Scotts fit into the same category- cool, but not something I’m comfortable pedaling around on myself.

    I also like the understated aesthetics of simple panel paint jobs (like the Flandria)or polished Ti like my Moots Compact. The timelessness of a classy bike is what I prefer for my own steeds. In one word I would have to describe my preference for my own bikes as “understated.”

    The only current Pro Tour bike that fits that category are the Cervelos. No overwrought event-specific or national champion paint schemes, just simple classic black, white and a little red.

  18. Robot

    @All – Thanks for all your input. My own tastes also run to the classic Italian designs, understated, etc. The frames I posted above stand out in my mind as meldings of those classic looks with modern materials. The Ritte frame stands out, to me, as being both classic and modern and distinctive all at the same time. It really doesn’t look like anything else on the market, and I mean that in a good way.

  19. Chris

    First for me is minimalist branding. One brand name sticker and a cool head badge is where it is at IMHO. I detest so many of the big brands that have their name on the bike 3+ times. I find this unnecessary clutter for my eyes. The Cinelli above falls into this camp for me; especially the wheels.

  20. gusc

    hey robot, how ’bout my 17 year old bridgestone RB1? wicked delish in campy ergo glory, 32h wheels, matching red look pedals. You just *wish* you had a pic. however, in terms of supreme sexitute, i gotta go for the

    Colnago EPS in Saronni blue
    Pegoretti 8:30
    Gaulzetti aluminum, in white

    ’tis all. carry on.

  21. Author

    @gusc – Gustavo – If I want a look at your cruddy bikes, I’ll just swing by your house, in the middle of the night, with a crowbar.

    The EPS is a nice choice though.

  22. James Clarke

    I agree that the less logos the better, but I also do like to see the name of the bike I am on. I just don’t want to be reminded of it 18 times on each side. The bike that I find especially appealing lately is the Franco Balcom. Great looking bike, and very tastefully put together. I don’t own one yet, but plan to later this spring. I find this colorway especially appealing:

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