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by Paul Howard
October 16, 2015
Photography by Matt Wikstrom
In this edition of Bikes of the Bunch, Paul Howard tells us about his new Cipollini RB1K. It was a dream build but the circumstances that lead to it were quite unexpected.
I can’t quite remember where and when I first laid eyes on a Cipollini RB1K but I remember posting an image on social media last January saying that it was my New Year’s resolution to own one. I was drawn in by the aesthetics of the frame.
I know it’s not to everyone’s liking but I love features like the curved seattube, the oversized tubing used throughout, the cutaway on the downtube to accommodate the front wheel and the fat BB386. It’s clearly designed with speed at the front of mind, hints at wanting to be ridden fast, and certainly delivers on that promise.
I’m a firm believer in the old N+1 bike equation, where N is the current number of bikes you own. Basically, there’s always another bike to be had, so at any given time I can list a number of dream bikes I’d love to own.
The Cipollini was a real dream though. I had been putting a bit of money away each month since January, not really knowing when I might be able to afford one. But then I was made redundant from my job at the end of April.
I was pretty gutted as I really loved working there. I got a decent payout after five years’ service and my amazingly supportive wife incentivised me to get a new job pretty quickly. She said that if I got a new job within three months, I was allowed to get a new bike. Five weeks later, I had a new position …
Local Perth bike shops were supportive and prepared to get the frame but said I’d have to commit to purchasing it from the outset. However, I wanted to try out different frame sizes for the RB1K and the more classic looking Cipollini RB0.8K. Luckily Trak Cycles in Norwood, Adelaide stocks a number of Cipollinis, as well as other beautiful top end machines. I gave them a call to discuss my plans and booked a $50 Frequent Flyer daytrip to South Australia for the following week.
The process was pretty simple but quite personal. I was met at the airport by Trak Cycles’ owner Glen. We drove out to the shop where he gave me a quick tour before sitting down to discuss exactly what I was looking for. I got kitted up and he set me up on their Guru Bike Fit machine. This thing is awesome. There are about 20 different saddles and bars to choose from. The machine incrementally moves while you ride so no need to jump off while they adjust saddle positions or lengthen stems etc. like other systems.
Having scanned my body with the computer, Glen set the machine up in a position that was comfortable for me and suited my riding style, then input the specific frame I was after. The machine then calculated all the variables such as stem length and angle, crank length, seat height. We tried out a few different saddles too.
With a few mouse clicks, he was able to literally swap the frame dimensions out to a different Cipollini, just so I could feel the difference and compare. I’m probably not doing this enough justice but it was absolutely incredible. Once I was satisfied with the ride, he hit save and the computer spat out my geometry to be transferred to the build.
They had a couple of RB1Ks built up in the shop and I was able to take one out for a lengthy spin. I was sold! We discussed components and accessories, and came to a price that was within my budget; a compromise for both of us! A deposit was paid and the build was underway. Less than two weeks later, the bike was delivered and I was riding it the next day.
As pictured, with pedals, bidon cages and computer mount, the bikes weighs in at 7.15kg so it’s not super light, but fast machines like this are never going to break weight records with a 1kg frame for starters.
Trying not to sound so cliché but the bike is the most responsive I’ve ever ridden. Every watt of power you put through the pedals seems to transfer directly to the road in the form of forward motion. And then you stand up for a sprint … it almost feels like you’re cheating as you ease by your mates.
Climbing is surprisingly easy too. I put that down to the wheels, a 27 tooth sprocket and the “new bike” enthusiasm that comes with a purchase! The bike is surprisingly comfortable on 100+km rides so for the moment, I won’t have it “fully slammed”.
I’m a huge fan of Campagnolo. It can be a little temperamental but I love it, so it was a no brainer to go with Campy. While the groupset is Super Record, I don’t find the Super Record cassette much value for money as it tends to wear out relatively quickly so I went with a Chorus cassette and copped the ~50g weight penalty.
I was considering Enve 4.5 wheels but when I took the Cipollini with a Lightweight Meilenstein wheelset for a spin in Adelaide, I was blown away. Maybe it was a combination of the frame and wheels but either way, it worked and I liked it. I did notice a bit of crosswind action last weekend, so I’ll see how they go.
I feel the Conti tyres are letting the Lightweight wheels down somewhat. I’d like to use a suppler tyre but I’ve spent good money on these wheels so want to ride them daily. I trust the reliability of Contis but I’m still a bit torn.
My favourite accessory is the computer mount. I like a clutter free cockpit and tend to use the standard Garmin ‘out in front’ mount. However, it doesn’t fit on the Enve aero bars. The guys at Fetha in Melbourne do a brilliant little custom mount that attaches to the stem plate. Perfect. Now I just need to find a way to mount my Exposure light in winter.