At the Cinelli Pressure Disc Ultegra 11x Hydro's heart is a quality frameset that is stiff, pretty light and gives a good ride quality, but unfortunately that is all hampered by the weight of the entry-level wheels and components. It's not the most competitively priced, either.
I don't like kicking off with a negative, but I think we just need to get this out of the way; this bike is heavy! I often say you shouldn't focus too much on the numbers as bikes and wheels don't necessarily behave the way their weight would have you believe. Unfortunately though the Pressure does, and in some ways it feels heavier than the scales suggest.
> Buy now: Cinelli Pressure Disc Ultegra 11x Hydro Bike from Sigma Sports for £3,799
This medium model weighs in at 8.98kg, or 19.8lbs in old money. Not so bad in isolation, but this is a bike costing £3,799.
It's mostly down to the Vision Team 30 wheels, but there also some deviations from the Ultegra groupset – such as the chainset – and it really spoils what should be a great riding experience.
On the flat, things are great. The Pressure zings along on the asphalt once up to speed, and a decent average is easily achievable without a huge amount of effort. The little aero nods make the frame slippery, and at 30mm deep you are getting a minimal aero kick from the rims too.
Everywhere else though, the Cinelli is compromised. It feels sluggish off of the line, to the point where every time I saw a red traffic light or a junction ahead, I'd release a little sigh as my thighs winced at the thought of powering up from a standing start again.
This obviously affects climbing too. This isn't a bike for a hilly ride, and sprinting isn't really something it excels at. Even on the steadiest of gradients it just feels like you are having to put way too much effort in.
Luckily for me I'm never short of a set of wheels to test, and after fitting the Scribe Elan Wide+ 42-D wheels – which weigh a cool 1,400g – the Pressure showed its true colours.
The frame uses a press-fit bottom bracket (BB) which means the bearings sit inside the frame, allowing a wider shell and a larger junction between BB, down tube, seat tube and chainstays. This means the stiffness is excellent and, with the weight closer to the 8kg mark it felt much more responsive, especially on rolling terrain and when climbing.
With this change the Pressure became a much more fun bike to ride – rewarding even. The ride quality is good for such a stiff bike. It's firm, but not overly so and even with the tyres pumped up to the high pressures I prefer, I never found the Cinelli jarring or overly harsh. It has a racy, purposeful feel to it.
It's the type of bike I could get out and smash around for a couple of hours or, if I was out for longer, exploit the faster sections while tapping out the miles elsewhere.
The geometry isn't that aggressive for a race bike; a 72° head angle paired with 45mm rake means the steering is quite neutral. It's quick enough to cope with bends at speed, just lacking the speed and precision of some.
For most of us though it's perfectly capable, and the fork matches the frame for stiffness, minimising flex under steering/braking loads for further reassurance when the going gets technical.
On the whole, the Pressure is a decent frameset that just requires a build that can match its performance.
Frame and fork
After a bit of research, I've discovered it's common knowledge the Pressure uses an open-mold frame, which means that it's basically an off-the-shelf-option. Many brands do this to reduce costs, and I'm not saying that's a bad thing. There can still be a certain amount of customisation in the carbon lay-ups the bike manufacturer specifies, which will tweak stiffness and ride quality – and as I've mentioned, the Cinelli scores well on both of these points.
At a claimed 990g for the Toray T700 frame and 390g for the fork, its weight isn't too shabby either.
Like many bikes, the Pressure has gone completely stealth when it comes to the cable routing, with everything from the shifters and brake levers heading inside the handlebar, through the stem and into the head tube. They then exit the frame and fork where the hoses or cables are required.
Maximum tyre clearance is 30mm, putting it in line with many other aero bikes on the market.
It looks great even with this mechanical groupset, but there does seem to be some resistance – especially from the front mech – that's probably caused by the tight bends the cables require. I disconnected the front and rear mech to make sure they were running smoothly, and they were. So it can only be the cable routing.
Like all race bikes, mounts are minimal: two sets of bottle cage mounts is it, although the down tube set has three bolts giving you some amount of adjustability.
The seatpost is an aero job with an expander to clamp it into position, by way of a bolt under the top tube. It held firm once adjusted with no issues of slippage. Adjusting the saddle rails by undoing the single bolt isn't the easiest, though, even though its design means it really should be.
The finish quality of the frameset is good. I like the pearlescent paint job and the neat details, such as the smiley face on the rear of the fork crown.
Geometry and sizes
Cinelli offers the Pressure in five sizes from XS to XL, of which we have the medium. Geometry wise we are looking at an effective top tube length of 545mm, with a short head tube of 135mm. The head angle is the aforementioned 72.5° while the seat tube leans at 73.5°. The chainstays are 410mm, giving a nimble wheelbase of just 990mm.
The stack and reach figures are 539mm and 385mm respectively.
This is a bit of a mixed bag, to be honest. It's based around an Ultegra mechanical groupset, of which you get the STI units and the front and rear mechs. Otherwise you are looking at a Shimano 105 cassette, a KMC chain and an FSA Gossamer Pro Evo chainset.
Gearing is 11-32t for the cassette and 50/34t for the chainset. Personally, I'd say that is a little low for an aero bike – I'd be expecting more like a 52/36t chainset and probably an 11-28t cassette. The smaller gears do help offset the weight, though.
> 25 of the best and fastest 2021 aero road bikes: wind-cheating bikes with an extra turn of speed
This is normally the bit where I go on about how great the shifting is from the Ultegra groupset, but as I mentioned earlier it seems to drag here due to its cable routing.
The brakes work really well though, with a 160mm rotor at the front and a 140mm at the rear.
Deda's Zero 2 handlebar has an aero shape to it, although it is quite narrow compared to most given the size of the bike – though that does at least speed the steering up a touch. It is comfortable though, and there is plenty of stiffness for those out of the saddle efforts.
The FSA stem looks good and again, has plenty of stiffness.
The saddle is a Selle Italia Model X and, while I found it comfortable enough, it is a little too flexible and squishy for my liking, both in the padding and the hull. I prefer something firmer, especially when getting the power down.
Wheels and tyres
As I've mentioned the Vision wheels are the biggest weak point in this build. At over 1,900g naked they are a fair lump of weight, and they feel it too. The front wheel arrived out of true, but not enough to be an issue – especially with disc brakes. Rim brakes might have been a different matter. Looking at the cassette and brake rotors it seems this bike may have done a few miles before I received it, although I don't know how many.
Aside from the weight there aren't any real issues with the wheels. They feel solid and their trueness didn't get any worse throughout the test period.
> road.cc's Best Cycling Wheels of the Year 2020/21
The Pressure doesn't scrimp on the tyre option though, as it's fitted with Schwalbe Ones which are fast rolling and very grippy (although the website says Lugano II in the spec list). The Ones aren't the most robust though in the longterm.
So, £3,799. That's not outrageous for a mechanical Ultegra aero bike, but the Pressure does have quite few compromises. My go-to for aero loveliness is the Orro STC Venturi. It's Orro's own mold and Spread-Tow carbon fibre, from which it gets its STC name. The ride quality is excellent, as is the performance. With Fulcrum's 400 DB wheels and a similar FSA cockpit setup it costs just £2999.99.
In fact, you can have the same build with an Ultegra Di2 12-speed groupset for just 99p more than the Pressure.
Merida's aero bike the Reacto is available in a range of builds, with the closest to the Cinelli being the 6000. It uses a full Ultegra mechanical groupset and, while the Fulcrum R 800 DB wheels were described as weighty, it still comes in around 400g lighter than the Cinelli, and it's a lot cheaper at £2,950.
I loved Vitus' ZX 1 EVO CRS when I reviewed it last year, and it is an all-round better bike than the Pressure. The Ultegra model is £3,499.99, but you're getting a deep-section set of Reynolds AR58/62 DB carbon wheels and a carbon handlebar as well.
If you want wireless shifting instead you can get a SRAM Rival AXS eTap model for £3,899.99, and while you aren't then getting the carbon wheels the Prime Attaquers fitted are stupidly light.
Taking cost out of the equation and adding in some light wheels, the Pressure is a great bike to ride. It has likeable behaviour that's racy but not on the edge, and overall ride quality is good. It looks spot on as well, with its cool paint job and complete lack of external cables.
In this build though it just feels lethargic and, to be honest, frustrating – especially as I've been lucky enough to upgrade it to see how well it can behave. You shouldn't have to be tweaking the spec on a bike that costs nearly four grand though. This bike has so much potential, but doesn't quite hit the mark.
Great looks, plenty of stiffness and a smattering of aero benefits, ruined by a cheap spec list and heavy wheels
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Make and model: Cinelli Pressure Disc Ultegra 11x Hydro Bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Components: Shimano Ultegra 11x Hydraulic
Chainset: FSA Gossamer Pro Evo 34/50T
Disc Brakes: Shimano Ultegra Hydraulic
Cassette Shimano 105 11x 11/32T
Chain: KMC 11x
Saddle: Selle Italia model X
Bar/Stem: Deda/FSA ACR (Internal Routing)
Wheelset: Vision Team 30 TLR Disc
Tyres: Schwalbe Lugano II 700x28c
Bottom Bracket: Press Fit 86,5x41
Seatpost: Aero Carbon
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Cinelli says, "Aerodynamics is the key to the Pressure, Cinelli's new stunning UCI Approved fully internal routed monocoque carbon road frame.
Born to race, this monocoque high modulus carbon T700 fibre aero road bike is designed to cut through the air. The sections of each tube are designed to not only be aero but help minimise drag, which is further reduced by "end to end" internal routing of all cables. This is thanks to the new ACR system of being able to route all cables internally within the steerer tube.
The fork and the seatpost are designed specifically for integration with the Pressure frame which is further enhanced by the graphics. Weight and stiffness are perfectly balanced to transfer all the power of the rider into speed.
The perfect choice for both mechanical and electronic groupsets."
It's a quick bike on the flat once it is rolling, but the overall weight of the wheels really saps the fun out of accelerating and climbing.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
Other than this model there is a Chorus Hydraulic model with Campagnolo Scirroco DB wheels for £4,799. A frameset is available for £2,499.
Overall rating for frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
It's a well made frame with neat attention to detail.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame: Columbus Carbon Monocoque made from Toray T700 carbon fibre.
Fork: Columbus Disc 1 1/8" - 1 1/2" Monocoque
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is fairly typical of an aero bike, sitting somewhere between a race bike and an endurance bike. Full figures are in the main review.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
The stack and reach figures are exactly what I'd expect for this size and style of bike.
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
For an 'aero' bike I found the Cinelli comfortable, with no harshness from the tubing.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
The large bottom bracket section ensures stiffness when putting the power out, and the fork copes well with hard steering and braking efforts.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is good thanks to the frameset's stiffness.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Well balanced with a focus on neutrality.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
It's not the fastest handling race bike, but the steering is still quick enough to be fun.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I found the saddle a little on the soft side, personally.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
The Deda and FSA bar/stem has plenty of stiffness for hard efforts out of the saddle.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
Efficiency is hampered by the heavy wheels. Swap those for something lighter and things improve massively.
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Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
For this kind of money it would be good to see at least a full Ultegra groupset rather than other components like the FSA chainset. The shifting seems hampered by the internal cable routing, too.
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Tell us some more about the wheels.Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the wheels? If so what for?
The heavy wheels are the weak link in this build. I would say update to something lighter as soon as you can – but you shouldn't have to do that on a bike of this price.
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Tell us some more about the tyres. Did they work well in the conditions you encountered? Would you change the tyres? If so what for?
The Schwalbe tyres are quality, and go some way to restoring the performance the wheels rob.
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Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
It's a bit of mix 'n match for the finishing kit, but it all works well enough. The narrow handlebar speeds the steering up a bit.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Not with the standard wheels fitted
Would you consider buying the bike? No, but possibly as a frameset
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? I'd mention the pros and cons
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
The Reacto is Merida's aero bike and the 6000 model comes with a full Ultegra groupset and similar finishing kit as the Cinelli. It is to hampered by heavier wheels, but it's still 400g less than the Pressure and at least the £2,950 price tag allows you to upgrade to something lighter though. One of the best aero bikes on the market is the Orro Venturi STC with the Ultegra model coming in at £2,999.99.
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Use this box to explain your overall score
The ride quality is good and the performance, once you get rid of the heavy wheels, is impressive. But this build is expensive for what it is, and those wheels just take the fun out of the ride.
Age: 42 Height: 180cm Weight: 76kg
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
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