Farewell Review: The Cielo Road Racer Di2

Reviewing bikes like the Cielo Road Racer is easy. Well, sort of. Isn’t the whole idea about a bike review to critically assess its potential for the market? That means looking and discussing honestly the strengths and the weaknesses.

Luckily, for Cielo, these were apparent after the first ride and continued to hold strong throughout the several weeks that the Road Racer Di2 was in my possession. Some of my critiques are merely aesthetic or tied in with the build kit on this particular bike.

Whatever my thoughts are, I can tell you, it’s gonna be tough to send her home.

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

Starting off: Cielo’s frames are all made by hand in house at Chris King. The bioval downtube and top tube, coupled with deep, fast stays make this bike one of the most stiff steel frames I’ve ever ridden.

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

While a frames stiffness is usually measured at the bottom bracket, I’ve found it to be characteristically more centered around the seatube cluster, especially for seated acceleration. This bike performs at either junction.

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

The PF30 BB is stiff, the stays are stiff, the downtube is stiff and while we’re at it, the whole bike is stiff, down to the stem. Carbon dorks will scoff at steel, but I’ve had a few on the bike and they can’t get over how nicely it rides (that means it’s damn stiff).

Although, remember, with steel, it’s a fun stiffness, just enough to make you feel like all your calories burned are being put to good use. The frame has a liveliness and comfort that can be only found in steel bikes. Even on the rough chipseal roads surrounding Austin.

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

Being a bike marketed to racing, the fit and geometry are very aggressive. For someone who almost always rides an XL frame, there’s a lot of saddle to bar drop. For me, maybe too much, especially if you’d rather ride a level stem.

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

When you do however, ride a Road Racer with the Cielo stem, the bike just zooms and the fit is hardly an issue but, like I said, you’re stuck with a 0-degree stem if you want this or any less saddle to bar drop. I don’t, however think that’s the language this bike is made for. The stem looks great, the bike fits as is. Case closed.

This particular frame was spec’d with a Thomson post, which is right at the minimum insertion line. Not a bad thing, just be ready to potentially spring for the longer post.

Unlike many carbon frames, or even modern production steel frames, the Cielo will fit up to a 31c tire. I know because I dropped my other wheels from my Argonaut into it a few times on windy days. Which brings me to my main qualm with this build. The ENVE wheels. Before I go on, this is a “race bike” spec’d for “racing”, not hill country rides where the wind rips through valleys. While the ENVE 67s aren’t as bad as other deep rims I’ve ridden, they’re still like kites!

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

One thing I loved about the build spec is the Di2 Ultegra 11-speed drivetrain. I guess it had been a while since I’ve ridden Di2 – back when Dura Ace first came out. I’ve never been on a more accurate, fast, flawless system before. It has me questioning my love for SRAM a little bit.

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

Did I mention that clean integration?

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

The Thomson bars are also a pleasant surprise. Again, very stiff and with a nice shape to the tops.

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

Here’s the elephant in the room. The ONE comment everyone had about this bike. The damn “bumper sticker” branding. It’s not that bad, but it doesn’t do the frame justice! ATMO, anyway.

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

Everything about the Road Racer is addicting. The Chris King bits are just the icing on the cake. This bike oozes style and everywhere I took it, people went nuts over it. I weighed this one in around 17.5 lbs, around the same as my Bishop and you’d be hard pressed to find a rider or racer that thinks that’s heavy.

The Cielo Road Racer Di2

Like I said, I’m sad to see it go. It’s been a great couple hundred miles on this beauty.

Cielo’s pricing for the Road Racer Di2 is $2,495 for the frame and it includes Chris King InSet I8 Headset and Enve™ Carbon Fork painted to match.

If you have any questions, drop them in the comments!

31 responses to “Farewell Review: The Cielo Road Racer Di2”

  1. Chris Forns says:

    “Asses” instead of “assess” in 3rd sentence. Ha.

  2. NYMB.co says:

    Great review, and what a great color! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Keith Gibson says:

    Good review. The frame is great, compliant enough to eat up the miles, while still snappy enough to get after it if you want. I have the same thoughts about the Di2. I was unsure how I would like it after using and really liking SRAM, but it is a great group set. The “bumper sticker” isn’t that great, which is why I went with the tartan color.

  4. Ace Metric Cycles says:

    ‘carbon dorks’ new team name

  5. simonnix says:

    Big saddle to bar drop, eh? This might be what my stumpy legs are looking for. Everything I look at with a low enough stack height to get me any kind of good saddle to bar drop doesn’t have enough reach without stupidly long stems, which make the handling faster than I’d like (if faster is the right word). *goes off to investigate*

    • simonnix says:

      Holy shit. I’ve been dicking around in BikeCAD for weeks trying to figure out what works for me, and it turns out their Medium Road Racer Disc is off my mock up by maybe a few mm here, a few mm there. In fact nothing is more than 5mm from my ideal. This is EXCITING.

      Funny how what was a minor wrinkle for you (stack height) is, for me, the most exciting damn thing ever.

  6. Bill says:

    Wait have I been reading the webpage wrong – the $2,495 is for the frame built up with Ultegra? I’ve been saving up for this bike but I was under the impression they were selling it as a frameset.

  7. david says:

    Is Chris King making the new Lemond Washoe?

  8. Brian Sims says:

    $2,500 seems like a bargain for this frame with that build spec.

    • Brian Sims says:

      Ah, frame, fork, HS. I was going to start looking for some change in the couch if that price was for the full build.

  9. Kevin Jeffery says:

    My Cielo Cross in “race mode”. Usually wears aluminum rims and file treads for commuting/exploring. I much prefer the logo on my older version along with the brass badge. I’m a big fan of these non-custom bikes USA steel bikes. Not sure if I can justify owning both, but I really like the idea of standard road calipers on a bike like the Road Racer.

  10. Ultra_Orange says:

    what do you think of the cross classic?

  11. Henning says:

    have you ever had the chance to ride a Salsa Pistola and can compare with the Road Racer? Is the Head tubes dimension really needed for stiffness or chosen to make the fork look good ?

    • John Watson says:

      I have ridden one. The biggest difference is the quality of tubing used in the frames. The tapered head tubes add stiffness for sure, but stiffness isn’t the most important quality in a frame (IMO). I want it to feel lively. Hop on the Salsa – which is a perfectly find bicycle – then hop onto the Cielo and you’ll notice a difference immediately.

      • Henning says:

        I only have the chance to hop onto the Salsa in case I am going to get it. What is the difference that I will notice ?
        Thank you for the reply

        • John Watson says:

          The bike will be heavier. It won’t be as lively out of the saddle, acceleration will be different. There’s no easy way to describe it…

  12. Phomma says:

    How well does it nose pivot 180?

  13. Jaap says:

    please remove this bike from the frontpage.. every time I see it I’m thinking of ordering one!

  14. gregor.us says:

    Man that is one ugly looking bike.

  15. fredgleason says:

    In 2012 I was able to get this horse, brass badge and the Cielo logo on the seat stay.

  16. jamie says:

    just wondering 31c tyre fit in the enve fork aswell ? only asking cause i just bought one and i love fat tyres :)