There are lots of reasons for buying bikes and invariably many buy for the wrong reasons, at least the wrong priorities. This is where women have the edge over men. Most girls, though not all, want a bike for what is can do for them, is the right fit, is comfortable, and will help and improve their riding. But after years in the industry it is fascinating to observe the male need for tech and spec. Of course I generalise but the question of kit, is it better than so and so, how wide are the bars, is it 11 speed, what did the review say often comes above what is really right for Mr Alpha Male? To be brutally honest the spec of all bikes today is so good and deflation so rampant that you can’t fail to walk out of a shop with a good bike. The line between XC and (even) long travel trail or pure road race and gravel machine has narrowed so much and the performance gone up to such a degree that, as long as the fit is right, the brand name, looks and supplier have more to do with choice than the specification.
I am not writing this from holier than thou stand point but as an excitable buyer myself (you may have read about the trials, tribulations and excitment of my Scott Scale 900 SL purchase) and I am now waiting in anticipation for a Wilier Cento 1 SR Tricolore. And why the Cento? It’s so fast that I can hardly hold on, the cornering is sublime, it’s light years ahead of my old one and, most importantly, the colour matches the kit that Wilier gave me!
Now on another level – twice the price – is the Cielo Road Racer Disc. There’s a long, eighteen month, story behind this baby. I was given a brief: Di2, disc, light, fast, very good downhill, comfortable, understated and, above all, cool and unique. The Scott Solace would be the first choice but failed on the last point. I tested various bikes including the Volagi Liscio and the £9K Storck Aenario Disc because the customer valued my opinion as well as his impression. Nothing was quite right until we found the Chris King Cielo.
If you have a true passion for perfection and have unlimited resources the chances are you will come up with something better than just good. In this case, Chris King has indulged in his passion and produced a steel frame that is hard to fault. Chris King started building frames before producing the ultimate in headsets, hubs and BBs.
I have been lucky enough to have ridden a lot of nice bikes and there is a difference between good, better and best. The Cielo is up with the best. You would never know that it was steel from the ride, it is just damn good. If you notice something about a bike, to me that is a fault. Riding is too important to be worrying about the feel of a bike so perfection is when you don’t notice anything. Stiffness, responsiveness, comfort are all parts of the package and not to be noticed. If one stands out then there is something wrong with the equilibrium of the machine. It might be brilliant but not perfect. When I tested the Cielo I was asked to hammer it on the climbs and the descents. I was also charged with evaluating the finer points of brake lever action and to assess the freehub play…. at speed and downhill. To be honest everything was perfect, what was there to notice?
The frame as mentioned is steel so this adds a little weight. It is as stiff as you’d want
pumping the pedals up the Bostal, smooth, stable and flowing on the descents. I looks amazing! The kit is as good as it gets with Shimano Dura Ace Di2, Shimano ST-785 brakes, Enve 3.4S wheels with Ckris King hubs and Enve bar and seat post to finish things off. It doesn’t get much better than this but such is the balance of the entire package that all you notice is a feeling of pure joy to be out riding.
My duty is not to indulge in the ecstasy of the ride but to offer constructive criticism. There are only three comments to make: The feel and the performance of the frame is second to none, the weight is not an issue worth even mentioning and I really appreciated the perfect control that I had in being able to feather the brakes exactly as I wanted. Good brakes make you faster.