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on November 1, 2012
This is a history of Cinelli bicycles after it was sold to Columbus tubing in 1979. Unfortunately, Cinelli products before 1979 are hardly mentioned. I briefly edited Human Power put out by the International Human Powered Vehicle Assoc. and was hoping more for a technical history of the Cinelli products that made the company great. Instead the book describes the bicycle as an artistic expression of engineering. As a cyclist, I was disappointed. I was also disappointed that a number of the photographs were blurred.

The book opens with a chatty exchange between Paul Smith, an English fashion designer and Antonio Colombo, son of the founder of Columbus tubing who now heads the company and who owns an art gallery. They both talk about how much they enjoy riding bicycles and designing things. Their discussion is about the process to include the beauty of function in what they design. Antonio had wanted to be an architect but decided to design Cinelli bicycles after Columbus tubing bought it in 1979. The first thing he did after taking over the company was to commission a re-design of the company logo. The first chapter is all about updating the graphic design and colors. The book is a history of Cinelli after Columbus bought it from Cino Cinelli. Design is based on the assumption that the whole product is greater than the sum of its parts. There is no discussion of metallurgy, engineering and no graphs or tables. Despite his omission Cino Cinelli was an interesting person.

The book does not mention a number of things I wanted to read about. Cino Cinelli was a professional bicycle racer from 1937-1944 and a champion who raced under the fascists during WWII and founded the Italian Professional Cycling Association. Though there are many photographs of Cinelli during his racing career all over the web the book has few photographs of Cino Cinelli's illustrious bicycle racing career. It does not mention that he won the Tour of the Arpennines in 1937, the Giro di Lombardia in 1938 & the Milan-San Remo in 1943. The book does not mention that his brother actually founded Cinelli, making handlebars and sponsoring a racing team while Cino raced. Concerned about bicycle failures and unable to interest manufacturers Cino joined his brother and began making handlebars in 1946, designing the Supercorsa in 1947. His colorful and expressive personality is not mentioned. Neither is what he did after selling the company or his passing in 2001 is not mentioned. While the flat fork crown was the standard the Supercorsa featured a unique full-sloping fork crown to stiffen the fork. The advance of the full-sloping crown is given a single page without mentioning that after its introduction that frame makers added stiffeners to flat fork crowns. Other fork developments such as Italian section fork blades or the 1 1/8" threadless fork columns are not mentioned. Other Cinelli developments such as his Bi-valent hubs, M71 pedals or the smaller wheels or very long crank-arms he advocated for bicycles are also not given space.

The book promotes bicycle design as an artistic expression much in the same way Ettore Bugatti designed cars. The book is printed by Rizzoli, who also publish coffee-table books on fashion. The book is heavy, weighing 4 1/2 lbs owing to the high clay content of the pages to reproduce a large number of photographs. A number of them are Man Ray-style artistic montages with drawings of wrapped presents or blocks of cheese being drawn on photographs of bicycle races or products. There is a surrealistic drawing of a moose wearing a raincoat riding a tandem with a single dice for a hat with a cut-out copper-plate image of someone on the seat behind him. There are no captions but a few are briefly described in the photographic credits. There are photographs of races showing speed and one of someone reaching out from the shadows to a pile of shiny stems. While there are a number of close-up pictures of bicycles instead of being crisp studio shots, a number of them are slightly out of focus. On pg.#168 a full half-page picture of a bicycle is so blurred you cannot read the name on the down-tube and only make out the CIN of the Cinelli on the top tube (this page is displayed on LOOK INSIDE). As a book of design, I was disappointed.
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on November 9, 2012
I was so very excited to acquire this book and then upon arrival was even more jacked once I saw its size, heft, and design.
Alas, upon opening it I was disappointed with its scope and emphasis. Truly, it should be titled: "Antonio Colombo's Cinelli".
While there is no question that the current company is a major player in the bicycle world and continues on with an admirable sense of design and style, I personally am more interested in the genius of the company founder, Cino Cinelli. While it contains a small amount of early history, basically it is a focus on the Cinelli since it was sold to the Colombo family. As of yet I have not read the entire text (thus far, not very well written - appears to be mostly a translation) but have perused and thumbed through and it appears (there is no text index) to have some rather glaring omissions. How can a work on Cinelli not give a report on the Bivalent Hubs and Clipless Pedal?

Anyhoo, I shall keep this book in my library as it is beautifully produced and is a fine study of contemporary Italian design. A loving tribute to that culture's blend of utility, purpose, style, and beauty.

I shall continue to hope for and anticipate a book on the complete history of the maestro, CINO CINELLI.
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on December 11, 2012
One does not really expect a book about one of the most storied names in Italian cycling, famous for quill stems and cork handlebar tape, to begin with a discussion featuring a British fashion designer but when that designer is bike-mad Paul Smith and he is chatting with Antonio Colombo of the famous tubing dynasty you know that the way ahead will be eccentric, to say the least. "Cinelli" is an impressive and expensive book but just be prepared for a wild ride.

Published by Rizzoli, famous for its beautiful art books, "Cinelli" is not anything like your usual bicycle history but is truly another art book. It is superbly designed, of course, like many bike books are but the content much more addresses aesthetic issues rather than technical ones. There is a mix of history, usually respectful, with matters of texture and quality, perhaps a big dose of fashion-world pretense but also some genuine humour. There is a generous selection of excellent photos, marvellously sharp and evocative, no matter which era represented.

The book opens with aforementioned kind-of-interview between the Clothing Man and the person who turns out not to be Mr. SLX Tubing but rather the Mr. Bicycle of the Art World. Antonio Colombo's family business, Columbus Tubing, goes back to 1919 and he also serves as President of Cinelli, acquired by the family in 1978. The book is split into chapters that do not go in chronology but rather each highlight a different aspect of the company's surprisingly diverse product line. It is telling that one of the first things done by the Colombos was a redesign of the archaic Cinelli logo in 1979. The "winged C" is a superb example of a successful redesign and this look and feel began to breathe new life into Cino Cinelli's atelier.

"In the bicycle, Colombo saw an object of design, technically perfect, the most efficient mode of transportation ever invented, which nevertheless seemed unable to communicate to the general public its greater modern social potential. One of his first decisions as majority shareholder of Cinelli was to commission a new logo that would reflect his vision of the bicycle as a dynamic and progressive social element."

After this call to arms in the opening chapter, Lodovico Pignatti Morano, the author, goes backwards into the traditions of the past by introducing Cino Cinelli's masterful racing frame, the Supercorsa. The Supercorsa was produced in very limited numbers as a sideline to Cinelli's role as the largest supplier, along with Campagnolo, of bicycle components in Italy. Supposedly built at a loss but to the Master's exacting specifications, the new regime began a program that started with colour and transfer changes and then went on to using new techniques and tools for frame construction as the Supercorsa was improved. It had been brazed by one expert, Luigi Valsassina, until 1980, and he too is shown in the book at work. This is Old School, as the Young People say.

From the legendary Supercorsa, which was built first in 1948 and continues in production to this day, we move next into the bits and pieces that have made the Cinelli name so visible, beginning with the revolutionary (at least for the diehards of the cycling industry) sloped fork crown, beautiful investment cast lugs, the remarkable Unicantor saddle that is considered the basis of the modern racing saddle--all these come from Cino's era, along with the famous 1A alloy stem and the 60-series of handlebars and distribution of Binda straps. But post-Cino stands a company enthusiastic about experimentation. The designs are novel: the clever and controversial Spinaci time trial bars; the impressive Alter threadless stem, with its pin-up girl cover (as used by Mario Cipollini, naturally); the much-loved cork handlebar tape; the integrated handlebars (Integralter and RAM).

Antonio Colombo not only oversees this circus of invention but also owns an art gallery. He recounts meeting Gary Fisher in California and hanging out with him at a Grateful Dead concert. With the Rampichino the company launches Europe's first mountain bike, limited to 1000. Perhaps making more than that number would have made good commercial sense but one senses that mass production is not really the style of Cinelli. Style is the style, and Colombo is clearly excited by the trendy fixed gear scene, although he is rebuffed by one group of American riders who consider Cinelli's Bootleg model "a project for Milanese dandies, too aestheticized and conceptual for their taste. A lesson learned."

It is strange to think of an industrial producer in Italy wanting to come to grips with the "authenticity" of the urban cyclist movement. "The fixed-gear movement, more than any other in cycling history but much like other urban subcultures, articulated a self-conscious aspiration toward ironicity..." Well, okay, if the result is a clean and attractive design like the Vigorelli track frame.

Says Signore Colombo: "If you're going to buy a performance bike, it might be that you're less interested in the symbolic value of the bicycle. But for me and my customers, a bicycle is more than in instrument of performance, it's a complex of things. I am to introduce, beside the ride-ability and the performance of a bicycle, more value--sometimes an ironic value. Not always being 100 percent high-tech; high-tech is worrying somehow. But that's why I play sometimes--like the smiley faces on our Vigorellis." One can be fairly certain that Mr. King Liu of Giant in Taiwan does not talk like this.

The book is peppered with paintings illustrating some fanciful notions about Cinelli (how about "Shakti Cinelli," featuring the Hindu goddess, perhaps?) and it is clear that everyone is having a lot of fun with all of this. Well, the Spinaci episode was probably not so much fun after a new factory was built and then the handlebars were subsequently banned by the UCI, but it seems that a torrent of interesting ideas continues to flow from what Cino's old company. At one point there was even a mini-chain of three shops, prefiguring what has since become the "concept store" for high-end bike manufacturers. Some chapters feature comments by other people with a connection to Cinelli, including racers Felice Gimondi and Gilberto Simoni, but also artists Barry McGee and Benny Gold.

There are several chapters devoted to the remarkably gorgeous Cinelli Laser bicycle, which from its 1981 origins onwards appears almost two-dimensional and beautifully proportioned in new ways far beyond what the inventors of the diamond frame might have considered. And the book ends, appropriately, with the mixing of industry and art with the Laser painted up by graffiti-inspired artist Keith Haring, a bike that Antonio Colombo says everyone wants their picture taken with. It features on the cover of "Cinelli--The Art and Design of the Bicycle," a book which delivers what it sets out to do in its title.
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on September 25, 2014
This is a book that is satisfying to students if the history of cycling as well as those who appreciate the artistic beauty of Cinelli's work. The book has fascinating back stories around Cinelli's iconic and innovative products. It's also a great gift for dedicated cyclists.
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on December 20, 2012
Well my opinion is that the subtitle sentence "The Art and Design of the Bicycle" touches three capital arguments that we can't deny found a plenty identification in Cinelli since 1979 till nowadays. Emotions and research are values owned both by the pro-cycling competitive scene as well as by the art-world, and they're at the base of every single existence. That's the interpretation key of the whole publication. Rizzoli New York, the editor, surly gave great value to the iconic and innovative Cinelli products that wrote the history of pro-cycling (the very first clipless pedals, quill-stems, road and track handlebars, Spinaci, Ram, everythig's inside!) but the focus point is about the incredible ability of Cinelli and Antonio Colombo to understand the changing and elusive spirit of each contemporary cycling era they went trough. From the very firsts Rampichino mountain-bikes to the urban fixed-gear messenger world trough the 30 Gold Olympic Medals winner Cinelli Laser bike painted by Haring, till the most recent successful collaboration with masters of contemporary art like Mike Giant and Barry McGee. Cinelli always been able to reinvent even the most classic and iconic products, from the tape to the Supercorsa, as well as to give birth to high-tech components able to incorporate and express "the idea" behind it. One last note, my compliments to the author Lodovico Pignatti for the engaign and classy narration that takes the reader trough Cinelli backstages and true-stories of the history of the brand! Grab this book, take a seat, and enjoy reading!
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on April 3, 2013
Every serious cyclist should own this book. It is a great record of many of the contributions to cycling made by Cino Cinelli, and later by Cinelli under the leadership of Antonio Colombo. The volume is beautifully designed and printed, a true pleasure to read. Many of the photographs are rarely seen, and to have them presented together in this work is an excellent choice.

This book will remain in my cycling library. I will not loan it out!
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on February 15, 2013
I too was very excited to get this book, hoping it would tell the complete Cinelli history. But like a number of others who have reviewed the book, I was disappointed in the limited scope of the company's early history. The material that is in the book is beautifully presented and the book has a wonderful presence. As a bike lover, I still appreciate the book, but I was hoping for more.
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on March 15, 2013
I really can't speak highly enough of this book. If you had a bit of a crush on Cinelli before, this is sure to push you to obsession.
The book mainly focuses on the Antonio Columbo era, and I know there's a few of you out there who might feel insulted by this - but that's what the book is about. It's about the style, artistic collaboration and ingenuity that he has brought to the brand, and how it has grown around his leadership.

Filled with amazing pictures, anecdotes and mini histories on significant product milestones the company has put out.

Rizzoli has proven itself again as a great book manufacturer. This one is a must.
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on June 9, 2013
I'm please to receive this book as it has all the Cinelli products line history. Worth of keeping it. I will recommend this book to my friends. Thank You!
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on April 2, 2013
Great history on Cinelli. Only wish there was more on their involvement with Mountain Bikes and affiliation with Columbus which aids their research work
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