The first thing I want to put out there is that this is not a show-bike in showroom condition. No, the handlebars don’t match the stem and seatpost. And you might gawk at the gold KTM chain and white derailleur and whatever else is against “the rules”. But I look right past those things and have always had an eye for the Chris King handmade Cielos.
It’s the idea and character behind this bike which attracts me to it. The fact that it has some beautiful details hiding in its nooks and crannies — wooden Sykes fenders and bottle cage, and leather saddle and bar tape — make it interesting to look at. It’s a bike than can be taken on the road, on the gravel, in the rain, and you don’t need to feel too precious about it.
My mate Andy Sheats (CEO of Health.com.au) owns this bike and he says “It’s the ultimate winter bike. Without wanting to use the term, it’s basically my ‘adventure bike’. I’ll put big 28mm or CX tyres on it if I want to go off the beaten track.”
This particular model is from their “Sportif Classic” range. But taking a look at Cielo’s website, what really gets my blood flowing are their Road Racer models. For what you get (a hand-built frame with multiple colour schemes and a bike like nobody else’s on the road), they’re really quite affordable — $1,895 for the Sportif Classic like the one shown, and $2,495 for the Road Racer frame.
Cielo is Chris King’s steel bike brand and these are made in Portland. If you’re wondering what “Cielo” means, it comes from “Camino Cielo” which means “Sky’s Pathway”, a narrow road that runs along the top of a ridge in the Santa Ynez mountains behind Santa Barbara (California). It’s said that this where Chris King originally discovered his values of bike design, and these frames pay homage to that.
Some of you will love it, some of you will hate it, but you have to agree its certainly unique.