Antonio Colombo - Cinelli Laser 1984
The Cinelli company was founded in 1944 by Cino Cinelli, former professional rider and winner between 1937 and 1943 of many important cycling competitions including the Giro di Lombardia in 1938, the Tre Valli Varesine in 1940, the Italian Championships in 1941 and the prestigious Milan-Sanremo in 1943.
Cino Cinelli was a stubborn perfectionist and in just 20 years his company became a leader in the production and sale of handlebars and stems for racing bikes.
Cino marketed the first saddle with a plastic hull, the famous Unicanitor, and his was the patent for the first cage-free racing pedals in the history of cycling, the M71. Together with Luigi Valsasina, he built the legendary Supercorsa frame which even today represents a full-fledged cult object, unique in history to be still in production after almost 70 years.
In 1978 Cino Cinelli sold his business to the young industrialist Antonio Colombo (president of Columbus Tubi, a world leader company in the production of steel pipes). Antonio Colombo sees in Cinelli products the technical perfection of the most efficient and elegant means of transport ever created. At this point, his goal was to communicate this utopian perfection to the general public. In this regard, design was his main tool.
In the following 30 years Colombo made Cinelli products contemporary, cutting-edge and artistic, combining for the first time in the history of cycling design, competition and lifestyle. Thanks to these remarkable skills, he was able to develop innovative products such as the Rampichino, the first European mountain bike, the prestigious Laser, unrivalled protagonist of many victories, and again the Passatore, the first Gravel in history, undisputed symbol of an authentic predisposition to innovate.
Antonio Colombo with Steve Jobs - Aspen 1989.
Looking for a Macintosh distributor in Italy, Jobs visited the Cinelli headquarters and wanted a red Supercorsa for him.
CINO Cinelli - THE ORIGINS
Cino Cinelli is the seventh of ten children, seven boys and three girls. He was born in a country house in Montespertoli, a small Italian town on the outskirts of Florence on February 9, 1916. The father, a small landowner with limited economic resources, was not on good terms with the fascists in power nor with the communists of the opposition and this clearly led to a not easy life with continuous changes of residence in the Florentine province.
Cino and his two older brothers Arrigo and Giotto, born in 1913 and 1915, used to cycle several kilometres to school in Florence every day. Their competitive nature turned what should have been a routine ride into a daily cycling race. Arrigo and Giotto, against their father's wishes, began to participate in local amateur races.
1935 Colli Fiorentini - Cino with Giotto as winner
In 1936, Giotto Cinelli joined the Maino professional team and then in 1937 he ran for Bianchi. Giotto also runs as an independent professional from 1938 to 1940 while Arrigo from 1936 to 1938.
Even the young Cino, despite his slender physical constitution, wanted to run, but the family economic conditions did not make it possible and so he had to leave his studies to look for a job. Therefore, in 1930, when he was only 14 years old, Cino started working as a helper in a doctor's office and he was careful not to say that he wanted to become a cyclist.
Cino would be content to dream by following with admiration the cycling activity of the brothers Arrigo and Giotto, until one day in the saddle of a bike too big for him, crossing a car on one of the typical dirt roads of the area, he made a clumsy manoeuvre and losing control of the vehicle caused an accident with the car.
After making sure that the boy hadn't injured himself seriously, the driver suggested him to be more careful and gave him some money to repair the bike. With the more than generous compensation not only was Cino able to repair it but also to buy his much-desired riding bicycle.
After some time, Cino stopped working in the doctor's office to start a new job in a small publishing house. Here he was able to form his culture by reading the books recommended by his new boss who also encouraged Cino's sporting aspirations.
Cino, who was more passionate than ever about two wheels, began, like his brothers, to take part in some amateur races showing an innate determination. In 1931 he ranked second ahead of a promising Florentine guy who would be destined to become a great champion: Gino Bartali. In the following years Cino continues to work hard and read books which allows him to make a career in the publishing house. At the same time his legs pedal hard and he obtains excellent results in amateur cycling: between 1934 and 1936 he won the Tortelli Cup, the Olmo Cup, the Giro dei Colli Fiorentini and the Peretola Cup.
His brother Giotto was a particularly good cyclist and for Cino, who admired him very much and was proud of him, he was a guide.
1937 Cinelli wins the Giro dell'Appennino
In 1937 the Publishing House for which Cino works changed its management structure. Cino was summoned and he was told he was needed full time and could no longer obtain permits or tolerances towards sporting commitments parallel to his job. Cino at the age of 21 found himself at a crossroads: continuing his career as a clerk and abandoning two wheels or giving up his certain salary to pursue his dream of becoming a professional cyclist, without certainties, without money, without sponsors.
It is not easy to decide, but Giotto's knowing look would be decisive for Cino who chooses to give all himself to pursue his biggest dream.
In that same year he won as an independent professional the Pro Radio Cup, the Ciano Cup, the Menabuoni Cup and two other particularly important competitions: the Andrea Boero Cup and the Giro dell'Appennino, thus earning not only public acclaim but also his first cash prizes.
The technicians had been watching him for some time and in 1938 Cino Cinelli was hired by the Frejus team.
1937 Cino Cinelli wins the Boero Cup
1938 represents a very important year. Cino wins the Rieti-Rome and Ascoli Piceno-Ravenna stages of the Giro d'Italia ranking 12th in the final classification. He wins the Messina-Palermo stage at the Giro dei Tre Mari and the Bernocchi Cup in Legnano and at the Giro di Lombardia Cino once again finds himself wheel to wheel with his most important rival, the rising star Gino Bartali. The race is fierce and once again it is Cino who gets the upper hand and takes home the victory in 6 hours and 38 exhausting minutes on October 23rd at the Vigorelli in Milan. Cinelli and Bartali would always be close friends and very competitive colleagues with each other.
Cino Cinelli, Giro d'Italia 1938
Cino Cinelli, Giro di Lombardia 1938
Cino Cinelli, Giro dei tre mari 1938
From the Guerin Sportivo newspaper, 1939
1939 is his second year with the Frejus team jersey and on Wednesday, March 8th Cino crosses the finish line of the Giro di Campania as winner, once again ahead of Bartali and Rimoldi.
Cino ranks first also at the Coppa Carbone of Savona and at La Spezia-Sanremo, he wins the Giro della Provincia di Torino in couple with Giovanni Valetti. On April 30th he gets the third stage of the Giro d'Italia Genova-Pisa (187 km / 116,196 miles): he wins the Pink Jersey and he would keep it until the 9th stage of May 7th (he ranks 9th in the Final Classification).
1939, Giro della Provincia di Torino with Valetti
1939 Cino in a time of relax with his friend Alfredo Martini
While Cino started brilliantly his career as a professional runner, his brother Giotto, who was passionate about mechanics, started his own production of handlebars and stem bars and in 1940 with his brother Arrigo he founded "Cicli Giotto Cinelli Ltd." based in Florence. Their products are personalized with "Cinelli-Firenze" logo and coat of arms.
In 1940 Cino changed his jersey and began his career with Team Bianchi. Italy's entry into the war is imminent, and although the cycling races are considered a distraction for the people, they continue in spite of many limitations.
Cino would race in the blue jersey for four years, winning the Balbo Trophy, the Giro del Piemonte and the Tre Valli Varesine in 1940, the Rieti Trophy in 1941 and the Criterium of Naples in 1942.
1940 Cino Cinelli wins the Tre Valli Varesine
These are the years of the Second World War when Cino is in fact a soldier but he is selected in the state team and so authorized to train and participate in the races.
He ranked 6th at the 1943 Giro d'Italia, also called "Giro di Guerra" (Tour of War).
The Tour was suspended in 1941 due to the events of war but it was re-proposed in 1943 through the formula of the points classification assigned according to the arrival orders of the ten races up for grabs. The first in the ranking wore the Pink Jersey, but after four races the Giro was suspended due to the events that led to the fall of fascism that summer.
The first stage of the Giro di Guerra was the Milano-Sanremo on March 19, 1943.
Cino Cinelli with a time of 8 hours and 6 minutes crossed the finish line first ahead of his teammate Servadei
and wins the Pink Jersey with an average speed of 35,95 km/h. - 22.338 mph.
The Milano-Sanremo in 1943 is, according to Cino Cinelli himself, the biggest victory of his entire career: an exhausting, endless race for a total distance of 281,5 Km - 174,9 miles.
Cino, however, is lucid and fast. The more he grinds kilometres the stronger he feels.
Passed to Team Benotto, on June 29th 1944, Cinelli wins the Milano Campo dei Fiori in ex aequo with Antonio Covolo. In that same summer he passes in force to the US Azzini team but soon after he takes the decision to retire forever from competitions and dedicate himself to a new life.
CinellI & C.MILANO
1945 Cino Cinelli with Bizzi
After leaving racing, Cino began to follow his brother Giotto's working developments with greater attention and, in 1944, he started the Cinelli & C., a marketing and sales company without production, in Milan. Besides dealing with the marketing of handlebars and stems produced by his brothers, Cino became the representative for Lombardy of the bicycle brand "Benotto", for which he had raced until a few months before.
During his career as a cyclist Cino had always been very interested in the mechanical side of his bicycles. He had analysed the various technical problems in which he found himself involved during the most critical competitions and he was convinced that the technology could be greatly improved. Hence, the decision to study and deepen his technical knowledge.
In 1946, Cino Cinelli turns 30 years old. He is still physically very well trained and demands to personally test the products he sells mainly to Federations and Clubs. This leads him to expand his interpersonal relationships in the political sphere of Italian Cycling. After almost 10 years spent in the Cycling environment, Cino knows all the main players: companies, organizations, technicians and, of course, cyclists.
The protection of runners is a particularly important issue for Cino who, together with his friends Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali, decided to found an association for professional Italian cyclists: the A.C.C.P.I. to represent the interest of the cyclist in the Italian Cycling Federation, as well as in the Italian Sports Federation (CONI).
Cino had been the president of the association for 24 years.
In May 1946 the advertisement for the imminent start of the sale of Cinelli bicycles appeared in the Gazzetta dello Sport, the greatest Italian sports newspaper. The bicycles produced in Florence would be marketed by Cinelli & C. with office and warehouse in Milan in Viale Monza, 10. The production of the bicycles under the Cinelli Firenze brand lasted from 1946 to 1948.
1946 Cino Cinelli examines a bike
Cinelli & C. is the first Italian company specialized in the distribution of accessories for racing bikes. The Cinelli company produced handlebars, stems and frames. Cino was also a skilled distributor of the highest quality cycling products.
In the early years the company's staff included Cino, his wife Hedi, two office assistants and four assemblers.
His wife, Hedi Matter, is largely responsible for Cinelli's success outside Italy because she is the one who initiates and maintains contacts with all foreign clients. Indeed, Hedi, of Swiss nationality speaks fluent Italian, German, French and English. She and Cino started dating when Cino was running, at the time the girl's father did not consider Cino a "good match" for his daughter, and during the visits of the young champion at their home in Switzerland he used to ask him what his real job was, shaking his head every time. Until one day Cino answered: "I am an entrepreneur". With great satisfaction, only then was the engagement with Hedi made official.
The Cino Cinelli badge features a knight helmet, inspired by the one his father used to have at home. On one side there is a red lily, the symbol of Cino’s native Florence, and on the other a green snake, the symbol of his adopted Milan. At the beginning it was a silver-plated brass plate coloured with molten glass (Cloisonnè workmanship), later it was replaced by an enamel coloured one, and applied in the classic frontal position of the head tube; in the early years there is also another smaller badge on the seat tube. The head badge, unlike the other one, features the writing "MARCA DEPOSITATA" on the lower part.
In 1947 Cino hired Luigi Valsasina, the frame-maker of the Bianchi Racing Department. Valsasina built the frames of Cino's bikes when he raced for the Bianchi team, as well as those of Fausto Coppi from his arrival in the team in 1946 until the first months of ‘47.
Luigi Valsasina was the only one responsible for all the production of Cinelli frames and was helped by some workers. The average production in the first years was about 250 pieces per year including frames and bikes.
In the spring of 1947, the new logo with the classic Cinelli shield appeared for the first time in an advertisement in the Gazzetta dello Sport. The workshop F.A.C.T.A.M. a factory of cycling accessories and frames, based in Milan in Via Eustacchi 30, is mentioned as the production plant.
On 29 November 1947
at the halls of the
Palace of Art in Milan
the Cinelli company makes its debut
to the prestigious
Cycle and Motorcycle Fair.
The Cinelli stand is sober,
six bicycles are on display
in addition to the complete series
of handlebars and stems.
The company Cicli Giotto Cinelli is awarded a patent for the stems. Towards the end of the year, Giotto and Arrigo sell their shares and the intellectual property of Cicli Giotto Cinelli to Cino, while Arrigo retains the right to serve some motorcycle customers and process orders that are shipped under the brand name "Arrigo Cinelli Firenze" and continue for about 5 years.
When the shares are sold, the production machinery is shipped from Florence to Milan and is almost immediately put into operation. Therefore, we can consider 1948 as the first year of effective production in the company founded by Cino Cinelli in Milan.
Giotto would continue to successfully run a plastic injection moulding company, Elettroplast, owned by his father-in-law.
In 1951 Cinelli made the prototype of a new Special Corsa frame.
Designed for smooth roads has a full-sloping fork crown with internal lugs, the fork blades are shorter, stiffer and of oval section to increase aerodynamics. The seat post has a new release system. The bottom bracket shell, the seat lug and the fork crown are sand-cast by Georg Fischer in Switzerland. The main tubes are made by Reynolds 531, whereas the fork blades, the seat stays and the chain stays are made by Columbus Tubi.
At first Valsasina was not totally in agreement with Cino on the project, but he would have to change his mind when the new bicycle, once finished, would totally meet the expectations, receiving a more than positive criticism from the great champion and friend Fausto Coppi.
Cino Cinelli and Fausto Coppi
Therefore, the Model S.C. (Speciale Corsa) enters definitely into production and in the following years, almost without modification, became the most iconic and long-lived model in the history of bicycles of all time.
The Società Sportiva U.S. Internaples in which the young Mimi Milano runs is one of the first cycling teams to use the new Cinelli.
The model Speciale Corsa in the Luxury version has the chrome fork as well as the Malaguti lugs. The customization includes four chrome rings and Cinelli Crest decal on the seat tube, the logo "CINELLI" on the downtube, the Cinelli crest cloisonné silver-plate over brass head badge. The first models are fitted with the Campagnolo Corsa rear derailleur, then the with Campagnolo Paris-Roubaix, and finally with the Campagnolo Gran Sport.
On November 8th 1951, the advertisement of the Earls Court Show in London presented the Cinelli S.C. Lusso model (Super Racing Luxury), the B "Roma" model and the C model (which later became the "Riviera" model). In 1952, the magazine Motor Cycle & Cycle Trader published the advertisement for a Cinelli S.C. lightweight frame with braze-on shifter on the down tube and the dropouts prepared for the use of the Italian Simplex "Tour de France" rear derailleur.
During the 1950s the business relationship between Cinelli & C. and Columbus Tubi, the Italian company founded in 1919 by Angelo Luigi Colombo, started an important collaboration leading Cino Cinelli to become the sole sales representative worldwide, for Columbus.
1951 Mimi Milano
In 1953 Cinelli put into production the S.L. Model "Super Lusso", a city bike, personalized with the precious 55mm. cloisonné head badge,
full-sloping fork crown, chrome Malaguti "wolf's ears" head lugs.
Hubs, fenders, crank, chainguard, saddle, bell and stem,
are personalised Cinelli.
In parallel to his activity as an entrepreneur, Cino Cinelli attended the meetings of the Corridors Association with Coppi and Bartali.
His experience and position lead him to be a potential supplier qualified and esteemed by the top Italian and foreign sports realities.
Between 1955 and ‘59 Cinelli supplied the Italian national team with track bikes.
The bicycles are marked "UVI" in the seat cluster, have the Malaguti lugs and sometimes a chrome fork crown.
In 1958, Cinelli began to commercialize the first modern foot straps, the so-called "Binda" model. Invented by the mechanic of the champion of Cittiglio (Varese), Ugo Bianchi, they were improved by his son Dino. The quality of the leather and the stainless-steel buckle body, in addition to the bronze roller, made the product a market leader until the introduction of the quick release, over thirty years later.
In 1959, Tommaso Nieddu, from Turin, contacted Cino Cinelli to propose a collaboration for the production of a brand-new plastic saddle.
For the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome, the Olympic Committee equips the entire Italian track cycling team with Cinelli Bicycles and Tandems. The Italian Luigi Arienti, together with his team mates Vigna, Vallotto and Testa, wins the gold medal in the team pursuit overcoming the German and Soviet selection. In addition, he is awarded the special Collare d'Oro for sporting merit. Gagliardoni wins the final of speed and the Km from stationary. It is gold even in the Tandem for the Azzurri Bianchetto and Beghetto. Cinelli wins the gold medal also on road race with the Soviet Viktor Kapitonov.
During the Olympic event Cino Cinelli and Tullio Campagnolo share a stand to advertise their products. Because of their great friendship the two were never in competition; on the contrary, they often collaborated on common projects.
In 1961 some examples of Cinelli S.C. with the customization "Cinelli Monza" on the downtube were produced.
The Italian team led by Luigi Arienti
on Cinelli at the 1960 Rome Olympics
with Livio Trapè
Around 1961, Campagnolo produced for Cinelli a bivalent aluminium hub, a single piece with steel thread, and Regina made a special dedicated freewheel. The bikes thus equipped allowed the wheels to be indistinctly mounted both in front and behind and were produced almost exclusively for the American market. The project was then abandoned in the late 60s.
In 1962, after consulting with his brother Giotto, who had been working in plastic moulding for many years, Cino decided to enter into a partnership with Nieddu for the production of the plastic saddle. Since the first version produced featured a square section steel fork, a specially dedicated steel seat post was also made. Later, the fork became round section so that it could be used with any standard seat posts produced by other companies. The saddles were called "Unica" but the name was already patented. Therefore, Cinelli decided for "UNICANITOR", a combination of "Unica", "NI" for the first letters of the inventor Nieddu and "TOR" for Torino (Turin), the city of Nieddu. The UNICANITOR is the first saddle with plastic hull in the history of cycling and would be used by all the greatest champions, including Felice Gimondi and Eddy Merckx.
Ron Kitching's 1963 catalogue "Everything Cycling" presents as usual the range of Cinelli frames imported into the UK.
The models included were: Corsa, Super Corsa, Pista and Riviera. At the end of the 1960s, in over 200 pages of detailed information, the English catalogue was considered an encyclopaedia of cycling.
Ron Kitching's 1963 catalogue "Everything Cycling"
(browse in the catalogues section)
In 1963, Cinelli, who until then used the Columbus tubes for fork's blades and stays only, decided to replace the Reynolds 531, used for the main tubes, with the Columbus SL (Light Road).
Since then, all Cinelli frames are built exclusively with tubes produced by Columbus.
Although he was not totally convinced, in 1963 Cino decided to adapt to the market and presented the new aluminium handlebars and stem line. Also, despite the highest quality of the range presented, Cino continued to recommend the use of steel handlebars for track competitions.
For the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, the Olympic Committee equipped the entire Japanese track cycling team with Cinelli bicycles and tandems.
Also, in 1968, for the Olympic Games in Mexico City, the Olympic Committee chose Cinelli bicycles to equip the Mexican team.
On October 10, 1968, Ole Ritter set the hour record
(48.653 km / 30 mil ≈) with a Cinelli Supercorsa, customized with the logo of his sponsor Benotto. This was the first hour record set with a Cinelli. (watch the video here)
During the late 1960s, while the brake bridge was lowered to be able to place the new Campagnolo Record brakes, the production of the new Cinelli Super Corsa with lightened lugs, recognizable by the three holes, began.
In 1970, the production is about 600/700 frames per year. The three lightening holes in the fork crown are also created.
1970 is an important year, Cinelli launches the first quick release pedal in cycling history to be called M71. The innovative pedal is composed of a sledge platform made of chrome-plated steel and an aluminium mounting plate to be fixed to the shoe. A total of four generations of M71 pedals were produced, still present in the 1983 catalogue.
Also, from this era is the removal from the dropouts of the eyelets for fender attachments from the majority of Super Racing. In addition, the Campagnolo guides for the rear derailleur cables are welded onto the bottom bracket shell.
In 1971, the second generation of M71 quick release pedals was introduced, but the base is now made of aluminium and the plate to be fixed to the shoe is made of plastic.
Between 1972 and 1976, Cinelli produced exclusively for the Brügelmann brothers in Frankfurt a special edition of the S.C. called "Leggerissimo". A special series of Columbus SL tubes is used, Yellow from the red head tube with a special seven-hole lightening of the bottom bracket shell made by Georg Fischer in spheroidal cast iron. Brügelmann is one of the main Cinelli retailers in Europe.
The C.O.N.I. handbook "CICLISMO", published in 1972, is written by Cino Cinelli together with the excellent Italian coaches Rimedio and Costa. Published by FIAC and the Scuola Centrale Sportiva Italiana in Rome, it is illustrated by Ottorino Mancioli.
lightened lugs 1968
Ole Ritter 1968
Quick release pedals M71 (1970 version)
S. C. Brügelmann
With regard to the denomination "Speciale Corsa" and "Super Corsa", it should be pointed out that it is in fact the same model. Indeed, in the 1960s, new labels were printed with the words "Speciale Corsa" instead of "Super Corsa" because of an error by the printer who misinterpreted the labels of the 50's "S.C. Model" (short for Super Corsa). Later, in the 70's, other labels were printed again by repeating the words "Racing Special" from the previous years.
In 1973 Cinelli produced a particularly aerodynamic fork thanks to the new chain stays patented by Columbus, with its totally chromed finish it will be a distinctive feature of the prestigious Cinelli Super Corsa road race.
Also, in 1973 the production of model B. ends
and the stem Mod. 1/Record, with an innovative patented locking system, is introduced in the Catalogue.
In November 1974 Ole Ritter returns to Mexico City; Cinelli prepares a new and very light bike equipped with M71 release pedals. Ritter would not be able to beat Merckx's record in 1972 but twice in a week he would manage to improve his personal record set in 1968 (30,285 mi and 30,372 mi) proving to be still a very high-level cyclist at 33 years old.
Around 1975 Cino Cinelli designed a new bike called "Ridotto" model with 26-inch wheels and very long cranks. Cino claimed that it would be the ideal road bike and that cyclists would benefit from the higher speed resulting from the use of smaller wheels. Also, the longer cranks would provide a better leverage.
In 1977 Cino began to consider the idea of retiring from the business.
Antonio Colombo, president of Columbus Tubi of which Cino was an agent, saw in Cinelli products the technical perfection of the most efficient and elegant means of transport ever created. His aim was to take over the company to communicate this perfection to the general public using design as a tool.
1978 - Antonio Colombo’s new Cinelli
In 1978, Antonio Colombo joined Cinelli as main shareholder and became the actual successor of Cino Cinelli. In the years immediately following, the gradual total transfer of shares will be completed. In the new corporate form, Gianni Gabella and Cino's son, Andrea Cinelli, are also shareholders.
In 1979, Colombo commissioned the new Cinelli logo to Italo Lupi, a young architect who over the years would design important logos, including those of Prada, Fiorucci and the Turin Olympics.
Cinelli's logo was among the first to completely distance itself from the heraldic tradition, becoming the most imitated logo of the internet of modern cycling.
In 1979, Cinelli presented the new born CMX, the lightest BMX on the market. The frame, equipped with reinforcing gussets plates, is the work of Andrea Pesenti, a skilled frame builder who for years had been able to specialize and distinguish himself for TIG welding. The excellent work carried out on the CMX, led Antonio Colombo to entrust Pesenti with the task of developing the famous Laser project.
Cinelli presents the CMX on the occasion of the usual appointment with the Salone del Ciclo e Motociclo in Milan, where the unmissable Supercorsa are also on display. Among these are the tandem and an all-female version baptized by Colombo: "Sophisticated Lady".
Beautiful and unique in its kind, the Cinelli Sophisticated Lady would become, a few years later, the protagonist of an artistic work, signed by Occhiomagico, the pseudonym adopted by Giancarlo Maiocchi.
Giancarlo Maiocchi and his partner Beretta collaborated with Studio Alchimia, one of the most important Italian design movements founded in 1976 by brothers Adriana and Alessandro Guerriero, later joined by Alessandro Mendini. Antonio Colombo, who had always had a strong propensity for art and design, saw in Alchimia and especially in Mendini's playful, ironic and colourful style, an important inspiration for his Cinelli in relation to the process of creative innovation that he wanted to bring to the world of two wheels.
THE LASER PROJECT
In 1980, Antonio Colombo is in Japan to visit an important exhibition. While observing a study on the first French aerodynamic bicycles, he has an intuition and draws on a magazine some curves inside the corners of the frame tubes.
Back in Italy, he confronts Gianni Gabella and together they start the project by commissioning the good frame builder Andrea Pesenti for the creation of the first prototype.
Sometimes, a single word is enough to identify an entire work. "Laser" is a common term today, but at the time, in 1981, it referred to something unusual and mysterious. It meant speed, electronic movement.
On this concept, Antonio Colombo decided that "Laser" was the perfect name for the new innovative Cinelli bicycle.
Presented to the public for the first time in 1981 during the inauguration of the first High-Tech store in Milan, Laser made its official debut in November of the same year for the 47th edition of the Salone del Ciclo e Motociclo.
In the early months of 1982, the Laser project risked not being followed but, during a meeting examining Andrea Pesenti's new drawings, Antonio Colombo reported to the Board of Directors that it would not have been possible to stop making such beautiful and unique frames.
At the time, Cinelli's Marketing Director was the former professional track cyclist, Luciano Fusarpoli, who, taking advantage of his excellent relations, contacted the Italian Cycling Federation for the presentation of the New Laser. Mario Broccardo of the F.C.I., immediately sensing the potential advantages that the Laser could offer, ordered four models for the Junior National Team that was preparing to participate in the 1983 World Championships in New Zealand.
Colombo decided to set up the "Laser Team", a group of people with specific roles and skills. In addition to Antonio Colombo himself, the Team is composed by Paolo Erzegovesi (Columbus Tubes Engineer), Andrea Pesenti and a small group of collaborators. The result of the new strong synergy between Columbus and Cinelli is immediately visible.
The team began to develop the philosophical approach to production that would make Laser a real legend in the 80s and 90s.
Among the first aerodynamic frames ever, the first Laser editions were made with Columbus AIR drop profile tubes. The boxed structures, in Molybdenum Chrome steel, were as thin as a sheet of paper and the sophisticated stiffening system completely eliminated the major flexes in the transverse plane contrary to the conventional frame.
The innovative use of TIG welding developed by Pesenti (a technique until then unknown in the world of racing and which over the years has become a common heritage), together with the application of reinforcement "gussets" welded to the lugs of the frame, allowed a radical repositioning of the bottom bracket shell. This, in addition to making the bike more rigid, made it possible to shorten its wheelbase with obvious advantages, including a decisive shortening of the trainin team time trials. This innovative production anticipated one of the most important features of modern carbon fibre bicycles and is still the basis of the design of the modern Laser Mia.
The Cinelli Laser was the first bike in history to win the Compasso d'Oro award in 1991. Winner of 28 gold medals at the Olympics and World Championships, the bicycle is on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
1985 Andrea Pesenti
1985 Italy wins the Word Championship
1985 Bassano velodrome (Italy),
World Hour Record set by Hans Ørsted.
THE GRAN CICLISMO
In 1981, in Via Folli in Milan, next to the Cinelli headquarters, the first of a chain of three stores called "Il Gran Ciclismo" was born. The interiors were the work of Franco Raggi and the slogan "Sport, Passion, Mania" led back to the new concept, so that the bicycle was not only a sports competition but also leisure. For this reason, it is possible to identify the Cinelli store in a "Concept Store".
"The Gran Ciclismo" offered ideas and products that were not commonly found in classic bicycle shops. It was a place where people could meet, interact, confront each other and give rise to new initiatives. In the years of activity, to give vent to the open and creative dialogue, they also sold items not necessarily related to the cycling field.
In 1981, Cinelli presented an exclusive limited-edition model of the legendary Supercorsa: The Golden Black.
To enhance the beauty of one of the most iconic bikes in history, Colombo decided to make it totally black with mirror polish paint and some parts covered in 18k Gold.
While the Laser Team works enthusiastically on the jewel of Cinelli's house, Salvatore Ala, a well-known gallery owner, inaugurated the first personal exhibition of Keith Haring in Italy, precisely in Milan, June 1984.
Antonio Colombo, a contemporary art lover, visits the exhibition and decides to buy a particularly large and important work. The gallery owner is hesitant since Antonio Colombo is very young to be in the gallery's target group but, having verified the real interest and the concrete possibility to buy the painting, Salvatore Ala presents Colombo to Keith Haring and the sale is formalized. In those days also Elio Fiorucci and his Art Director enter the gallery and propose him to hire Keith Haring for an absolutely innovative artistic project: totally emptying the Fiorucci shop in San Babila, Milan, and transforming it for two days in the workshop of the young American painter and writer. Haring is not very convinced and it will be Andy Warhol, who had promoted his magazine Interview in the Fiorucci shop in New York, who would encourage Haring to accept.
So, Keith Haring goes back to Milan for an unprecedented performance and, helped by his assistant, works two days and two nights to transform Galleria Passarella's Fiorucci shop into a work of art. Walls and furniture of the shop are "covered" with his creativity. It is on this occasion that Antonio Colombo and Keith Haring meet and talk about art and bicycles. Since Cinelli was developing the project for the famous "Rampichino", Haring expressed the desire to have one and Antonio Colombo, happy to please him, sent one of the first Italian mountain bikes to New-York as soon as it was ready. In exchange, the artist would paint a bike for him.
In 1985, three examples of Laser are made for the Hans Ørsted Hour Record in Bassano and it is one of these three bikes that would be sent to New-York for the precious customization. Unique in the world, it is the memory of a very beautiful and too short friendship.
Antonio Colombo in a recent picture with his Keith Haring
Special Thanks to the enthusiastic Cinelli Vintage friends: John Barron, Steven Maasland, Chuck Schmidt.