First Ride on the Cielo Road Racer Ultegra Di2

At this year’s NAHBS, I knew something. Deep down inside, amidst all the insane custom bicycles, I know that Cielo was onto something with their new Road Racer Di2. The custom market is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but the domestic production market is far too overlooked.

First Ride on the Cielo Road Racer Ultegra Di2

Most people (myself included) don’t really need a custom bike. We can be fit on a stock geometry with relative ease. Well, in my case, it’s actually not that easy, but it can happen. After waiting months upon months for a frameset, it begs the question as to why more domestic framebuilders don’t offer up framesets like the Cielo Road Racer.

Stock geometry, tig welds, 44mm head tube, PF30 BB, ovalized tubing, yes, yes, yes! It’s what everyone wants, at a weight that rivals a carbon frameset for twice the price and exudes raw sexuality*.

First Ride on the Cielo Road Racer Ultegra Di2

Let’s pull back a bit. Look, it’s a steel bike with modern tech that yes, is comparable to the weight of a carbon frame at a similar pricepoint / build kit*.

So why buy a bike from one of the big companies when you can have one made for you in Portland at Chris King? I have no idea. For $2,495, the Cielo Road Racer comes with a Chris King InSet I8 Headset and Enve™ Carbon Fork painted to match.

First Ride on the Cielo Road Racer Ultegra Di2

Personally, I think that’s a killer deal and one that’s only heightened by the pricing offered to certified Chris King dealers’ employees. Basically, if you work at a Chris King dealer, you’d be crazy to not buy a Cielo for your next bike.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so how’s it ride? Why no bottle cages and what is up with those damn wheels?

First Ride on the Cielo Road Racer Ultegra Di2

The ride is very similar to my Bishop. Stiff where it’s important, dampened where it matters. It’s a comfortable ride, even with what I would call a very race-oriented fitting. Regardless to the saddle to bar drop, this bike still fits me.

Cielo’s geometry is aggressive, but then again, this is called a Road Racer, not a Sportif. This is an XL with a 58.5 TT and a 120mm stem. I’m stretched out in a race position and you know what? I really love it. The ENVE to Chris King wheels are a bit too much for my personal taste, but it adds to the pizzaz of the “racer” model.

First Ride on the Cielo Road Racer Ultegra Di2

The 11-speed Ultegra Di2 far exceeds any experience I’ve had with 10-speed Ultegra. The shifting is crisp and with each press of the lever, the wheels reverberate that clang of the chain against the sprocket. Ok, there I go again…

First Ride on the Cielo Road Racer Ultegra Di2

So… the bottles. I picked up the bike today, got all my camera gear in a bag and headed out for the “#LightBro”, not realizing I forgot to install cages and fill up some bottles. A quick swing through a corner store and I had a bottle. Faux pas? Sure, but it makes the frame look even cleaner.

First Ride on the Cielo Road Racer Ultegra Di2

This is by no means a full review. I’ve yet to put more than a measly 25 miles on this bike. It is however warranted by an incredibly giddy first ride, that left me looking forward to coming home and blasting a mid-summer century on it.

First Ride on the Cielo Road Racer Ultegra Di2

Maybe then, I’ll remember my bottles.

The Cielo Road Racer is $2,495 and comes in the following colors.
Comes with a Chris King InSet I8 Headset and Enve™ Carbon Fork painted to match.
Bike shown: around 17.5 lbs. Will update once I add cages ;-)
Head tube: 44mm
Fork steerer tube: 1/1-8” to 1.25″
Bottom bracket size: Press Fit 30 Bottom Bracket
Rear hub spacing: 130mm
Seatpost: 27.2mm
Front derailleur clamp: 1-1/8”
Limited warranty: 5 year craftsmanship and 1 year on materials.

*opinions to be taken lightly… ;-)

  • Garvee

    Great bike from a great company. Do they make it with a english threaded BB? I would opt for that instead of pressfit stuff.

    • http://www.negativespace.ca Tom

      Up-vote for Engish BB!

      • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

        I think for the “racer” the extra BB stiffness from the PF30 shell is important. The CK PF30 BBs are zero hassle…

        • Garvee

          I don’t want to get into all this BBx vs. BBy, but standard english is sufficient for racing. I’ve never bought into the extra stiffness press fit BB brings. It does make sense if you are using fat ugly tubes, though.

          CK BB’s are top quality and perfect fit. But if the BB shell has got to be close to perfect too.

          • http://www.pedalroom.com/bike/fuji-track-10-2011-15436 Jaap

            I doubt anyone who replied here has the wattage to feel the difference between the 2..

          • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

            Trust me. You can tell the difference.

          • http://instagram.com/instagubb Jesse Gubb

            When using oversized tubes, the oversized BB makes sense aesthetically but also functionally, from a fabrication standpoint, by providing a much larger surface to weld all those fat tubes to.

          • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

            Yepppp

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      I don’t think so… If you haven’t tried a CK PF30 BB then you’re missing out. Zero hassle, great fit. Never had a problem with mine.

    • Kevin Jeffery

      I have a Cielo Cross (Classic, not Racer) from 2011. Love the bike and I really do like that it’s an English threaded BB. Threaded BB and external cable routing for me please. This C- mechanic likes to work on his own bikes.

      Seems odd to me to buy a bottom bracket that needs a converter to run the crank you want. That said, I have never used the CK PF30.

    • http://www.ridemagnetic.com Magnetic Wheel Co.

      Pressfit BB’s got a bad rap straight out the gate thanks to lackadaisical QC on the milling of the PFBB shells from the big box brands, which King isn’t, and those atrocious nylon cups that Shimano and SRAM spec with their grouppos. Like with everything bearing related Chris King has always been the solution.

      • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

        Also, PF30 is not BB30 – a lot of people get hung up on the early days of BB30..

  • Tyler Morin

    This is a great looking bike. While I am certainly lusting after the Breadwinner B-Road, There is still a part of me that wants a Cielo instead.

    • tanner

      The frames look really nice, but I am not into the branding. Looks like they just stuck a sticker on the top tube. The picture below with the minimal logo is much better. IMO

      • AttackCowboy

        I’m with you. Especially after being reminded what a great designer could do with the Garrett Chow/Argonaut cycle, I’d like to Cielo team up with someone who can capture the racer look they want instead of the ‘block sticker on single color bike’.

  • http://www.negativespace.ca Tom

    Those stems look so good. The HT/Headset/Stem transition on 44mm is sometimes a little weird looking. This steel stem looks SO much nicer than a wonky bulbous Enve or similar.

    • hans

      totally agree. there is something so classy about a steel stem. that might be my favorite touch on this whole bike.

      • Colin Williams

        This frame is on my short list. Just wish the bb drop was a little greater. Bike has a short ht for the high bb. Can’t wait to read your review!

  • http://www.irieoutdoors.com IrieOutdoors

    Is that a zero degree stem? Awesome color for sure!

  • mywynne

    Hmmm, almost tempting to swap my US made CAAD for one of these…

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      Those bikes are / were so rad!

      • mywynne

        Mine’s an ex-team bike (2003/04) with the red/gold Saeco livery, record group, some other fun details. Had to replace a few things, but it does rock, should try and get a decent photo for you.

        • Trevor H

          Your SAECO bike looks great; my Barloworld is currently inop, hope to change that soon..

          • Keith Gibson

            since we’re showing our USA CAADs (2009)

  • Richard Smith

    Set up looks spot on (aesthetically balanced I mean), and those wheels: not “too much for my personal taste”!

  • Max Young

    any idea what the maximum tire clearance this could fit is? Could you throw a 25 or 28mm on this beast if you wanted to use it on the occasional gravel grind?

    • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

      28c fits no problem.

  • Ryan

    Bike looks amazing. Stoked to read the full review!

  • Salim Riley

    Can’t wait to hear more!

  • Étienne H

    I was totally down to get one of these. But they have a 5 year warranty on their ‘craftsmanship’ and only one on their materials.
    Seriously??? You have that little faith in your product? So many other stock steel bikes I could get that have a lifetime warranty…

    • frank31

      I’ve wondered why Ceilo have done this too – a bit odd. I can understand the materials maybe but craftsmanship?? Especially considering CK’s excellent rep. Breadwinner cycles offer a lifetime warranty on their craftsmanship .

  • Wade Stevens

    Oh man!
    The first time I saw a Cielo was in Portland at the handmade bike show last fall (where meeting Chris Igleheart was a highlight), and I have to say the finish and weld appearance of the Cielos was stunning. Everytime I see a steel stunner like this I get a smile and a jonesing for a ride on my 853 tubed “clunker.”
    But no black?

  • natj

    I’ve put about 400 miles and a couple races on my new “XXL” Road Racer and all I can say is that this is the best bike I’ve ever ridden. So fast, so fast, and so fast. No frame twisting, even though mine is huge, yet it still feels great after hours in the saddle.

    • Trevor H

      Your bike looks awesome man, and good to know there’s no twisting on the big stuff. As a big guy myself, its always a slight bit of concern. I keep kicking around the idea of getting one of these, they just look stellar and minimalist!

      • http://theradavist.com/ John Watson

        Oh this isn’t mine. Just a demo!

        I’ll do a few more reviews and once I get more miles on it, I should be able to answer questions / concerns.

        • Trevor H

          Totally John! I knew this isn’t yours to keep, and I’m looking forward to more of your thoughts when you get some more miles on it. I think TIG’d steel road frames done in the US can be an absolute bargain. I hope’d they would include an option for one of their BB’s as well (maybe slightly discounted from retail), but I guess those can get pretty, uhh, personal. The discussion at the top makes me want to dig out/unbox my “Made In USA” Cannondale from my move and start riding it again..

          I was complimenting @disqus_tQj3UST0tF:disqus on his blue one though! :)

          • mywynne

            I just want one of each (US Cannondale and Cielo), is that too much to ask? Actually, I want a kicking bike made here in Canada…

  • Rimbaud

    As there were a couple of mentions of Breadwinner; for what it’s worth I’ve checked out both Cielo’s and Breadwinner’s at shops in PDX – the Cielo’s have cleaner welds.

  • http://www.mapbicycles.com Mitch Pryor

    John, cool bike and review. Just wanted to speak briefly to the question you raised about why more domestic builders don’t build bikes on a production basis like the Cielo. It’s an awesome deal to be sure and a growing market segment, but not just anyone can step in to fill the void. The answer is that it takes a lot of labor and resources that companies like King have and most small builders don’t. Coming up with a stock concept and streamlining production only helps to a point if you’re a labor force of 1 or 2. To carry it out and realize the economies of scale require a larger operation or at least collaboration for small builders in order to work. My two cents.