Super Mario, The Lion King, whatever you call him; Mario Cipollini was a cycling sensation for over a decade. Taking his first pro victory in 1989 he continued to add win after win to his palmarès until 2005. Before Cavandish was king, Cipollini was the dominate figure on the sprint scene and was the first sprinter to start using a dedicated lead out train, a move that completely changed sprint finishes in the pro peloton.
His antics were as well known as his cycling ability; on and off the bike Cipollini was larger than life. His play-boy, party animal persona was one which he did little to play down. He found himself at odds with the UCI on numerous occasions for sporting his trademark, flamboyant jerseys such the famous “body suit” and various animal prints. Love him or hate him, he was a figure in the sport of cycling, a sport which is still trying to find a rider that holds the public’s fascination such as Cipollini did.
We were able to talk to a company rep about Cipollini Bikes and get a little background information on the company and the development of the bike line. The project was started about 6 years ago; Mario was retired from bike racing and looking for a bike he to ride. Finding nothing to satisfy his tastes, he decided he wanted to make a bike to his own specifications. Mario approached a company about creating his own line of bikes. The collaboration began and two years later the first bike, the RB1000 was born.
Cipollini bikes are 100% built in 4 Italian factories. Cipollini is directly involved in the development of the bikes. He comes up with the initial ideas for the bikes, the names, and the projects.
The Italians have always been well known for their beautiful bikes, and Cipollini Bikes are no exception. We got a chance to check out the bikes up-close and personal. We instantly noticed the beauty of the bikes; sleek, clean lines and sexy curves were everywhere on these bikes. The bikes came with attractive paint schemes, some as flamboyant as Mario was during his career.
Cipollini currently offers 5 bikes. Their flagship frame, the RB1000, was the first bike designed by Mario Cipollini for the brand. It is designed for speed and is sold as a great all around bike with an aerodynamic frame. The RB800 is a more comfortable, lighter version of the 1000. It is marketed as a climber’s bike that is great for long distances. The Lógos and the Bond are the latest bikes to be developed by the company. Finally, Cipollini offers the Speed, a beautifully designed track bike which, as the name implies, is built to go fast.
The top three road frames, the RB1000, RB800, and the Lógos, are all all true monocoque construction, meaning the entire frame is constructed from one mold. The Speed also benefits from monocoque construction. The Bond is only frame built from multiple pieces of carbon, bringing down the manufacturing costs a bit to provide a lower-price point frame. The main triangle offers monocoque construction while the rear stays are assembled.
Looking at the geometry, the RB1000 has the steeper seat angle; even in the largest frame size, XXL, there is still a 73 degree angle. The 800 comes in with a slightly slacker seat angle. This is the more classic geometry for road riding. The Lógos is closest to the 1000 as far as being overbuilt and aero. While the Bond has slackest head angle with relatively normal seat tube angles. One of the reps we talked to owns both an 800 and a 1000. He stated that the bikes are great even on longer 5-6 hour rides. At speed, he says, the bikes are extremely stable even when riding upwards of 50 mph.
Mario clearly takes pride in these bikes. If the Italian heritage, beautiful frames, and design input from The Lion King himself is any indication, these bike are going to be hard to tame.
Talking with Mario Cipollini:
We were able to spend a few minutes with Mario Cipollini to discuss the bikes, his retirement, and what he thinks about today’s sprinters.
What was it that made you want to develop your own bikes?
“When I finished my career I tried other bikes. There wasn’t a bike that worked for me. I needed to make a bike that was good for me. From this desire, came the idea to make the bikes.”
Did you have a favorite bike that stood out during your professional career?
“I had many bikes but sometimes, there may have been a brand on the frame but the frame was my frame, it was made for me. I had particular needs, more reach, more speed. I put this experience into the Cipollini brand.”
Which of the bikes is your favorite, if you were racing today, what would be be riding?
“The 1000 is my favorite. It is my personality, it was my idea. The others are there for the market but the 1000 is mine. Now we are making the Bond which is a very particular project but for me, the 1000 is the top.”
What do you miss most about racing?
“Nothing. It is another life. It was beautiful but now I have these other projects.
What do you think of today’s sprinters?
“I saw the Tour de France, I saw Kittel I liked it very, very, very much. It is a very good match with Cavendish.”
Do you think sprinting has changed from your days as a pro sprinter?
“Everything has changed. The life has changed, the world has changed, the cycling has changed. The sprint is different, the preparation for the sprint is different.”