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The Cinelli Superstar certainly has the flair, the quirky design and the luxurious paint job you'd expect to go alongside its Italian heritage. But it's not all show-and-no-go either, as it won't let you down on the performance front – well, as long as you ditch the Vision wheels.
If you are after a new bike, have a look at our best road bikes buyer's guide, covering machines from just £300 to north of £13,000. Our best endurance road bikes guide adds another 15 bikes for your consideration.
Sat there in the garden, sparkling in the sunlight the Superstar certainly screamed 'Ride me!' and as I rolled out of my estate, I wasn't disappointed.
First impressions were that the geometry felt great, putting me in a comfortable position; racy but not over the top, and it was suitably stiff through the frame and fork as I pulled out on to the main road, which showed that the Cinelli had some poke.
The only thing holding it back was the slightly lacklustre Vision Team wheelset. I'm not a fan, and every time I give them another chance, they always leave me feeling a bit meh. I find them sluggish, they feel weighty and just don't have that great a ride quality.
However, one thing they did do, was to highlight exactly how good the ride quality of the Superstar's frame and fork is. The bit in between me and the wheels felt absolutely great – even with those Visions doing their best to mute any feedback and fun.
Later on, during testing I switched to some Hunt 30 Carbon Aero wheels that I had in the shed. Admittedly at 1,347g they are very light, but just the ride quality alone highlighted what a good frameset the Cinelli has.
The wheels allowed the frame and fork to do what it is good at: passing on information from the road while isolating high-frequency buzz. The Superstar may not be a super-light bike, but with some decent wheels it can certainly ride like one.
The endurance-style geometry makes the Cinelli easy to live with on all kinds of roads and terrains.
It doesn't specialise anywhere, but it feels confident on high-speed descents and on twisty back lanes and has a smooth, cruiser-like feel on well-surfaced main roads.
The handling feels quite neutral, which works if you lack a bit of confidence descending and helps even the most experienced of us when fatigue kicks in on longer rides.
Overall, from a ride point of view the Superstar is a fun and involving bike to ride. It's quick enough and nimble enough (thanks to the shortish wheelbase) to race on or to really push it through the bends, but it also has the characteristics that make it an efficient long-distance speed machine.
The Columbus frame is a monocoque created from Toray T700 high-modulus carbon fibre with a claimed weight of around 1,140g in this medium size, while the fork comes in at 440g.
This is not especially light for 2023, but neither is it over the top in terms of heft.
It's certainly a quirky-looking frame, with its kinked top tube and multi-faceted down tube profile – but I think it looks pretty cool and the blue paintjob looks striking in the sunlight, living up to the Superstar name.
Unlike many of today's latest bikes the Superstar doesn't run the cables or hoses internally from the handlebar and head tube, and the entry ports are still on the down tube.
Blanking plates keep things looking clean, though, if you are running an electronic groupset.
As you'd expect considering the Cinelli's performance credentials there is no provision for mudguards, a rack, or large diameter tyres – and in my opinion that's absolutely spot on, as they'd affect the geometry and styling.
Tyre size is limited to 28mm and other than two sets of bottle mounts, the frame and fork are completely clean.
Cinelli also uses a standard 27.2mm seatpost, which is becoming something of a rarity on bikes of this ilk, and it is held in place with an external clamp.
The bottom bracket is a press-fit design, which I feel is always welcome on a road bike designed to cope with a lot of power being put through its pedals.
Pressing the bearing cups into the frame rather than having them sitting outside allows for the use of a wider bottom bracket, which can accept a wider down tube, seat tube and seatstays, with a resulting increase in frame stiffness.
As I have said in a number or reviews over the last few years, the creaking issues found on early bikes with press-fit bottom brackets has largely disappeared, thanks to tighter tolerances and perfected carbon lay-ups.
As for the geometry, I've touched on its 'endurance' nature, which Cinelli says makes the Superstar comfortable enough for multi-day events and Gran Fondos, while still being quick enough for racing and sprints.
The Superstar is available in five sizes with top tubes ranging from 515mm to 585mm in length. Our medium test bike has a 550mm top tube, with a seat tube 510mm in height where it meets the seatpost. The 145mm head tube has an angle of 72.5°, while the seat angle is 73.5°.
This equates to 548mm and 387mm in terms of stack and reach respectively.
The 995mm wheelbase keeps things nimble and the chainstays measure 415mm.
A full geometry chart is available on the website of Chicken Cycles, Cinelli's UK distributor.
We have the Cinelli in its Shimano Ultegra mechanical build, which comes with the majority of an 11-speed R8000 groupset. Deviations from Ultegra are the FSA Gossamer 50/34T chainset, Tifosi 11-34 cassette and KMC chain.
You're still getting both mechs and the shifters, though, so the gear shifts still feel crisp through the lever and the hydraulic brakes are powerful and easy to modulate.
The bar, stem and seatpost are all Tifosi-branded alloy components – functional rather than exciting.
I have used the Selle Italia Model X saddle on a fair number of bikes.
I like its shape and would be in no hurry to change it.
I can't say the same for the wheelset. I've ridden bikes specced with Vision Team 30 wheels many times over the years and I'm not really a fan. They feel heavy and I think they give quite a dead feel to the ride of any bike they are fitted to.
They are very reliable, though, and I've never experienced any mechanical issues with them, so wouldn't question their durability. That said and if this was my Cinelli, I'd definitely be buying better wheels for big rides on those sunny, dry days.
And it's a similar story for the Schwalbe Lugano tyres too – though considering they are quite entry-level training tyres, they do actually perform pretty well. Rolling resistance feels good and while they can feel a little wooden in the corners compared to more supple high-end tyres they do offer decent grip. Their puncture proofing seems impressive as well.
This £3,299 RRP is very similar to that of the Moda Stretto that I was reviewing at the same time. With the same Ultegra mechanical groupset, some Mavic Aksium wheels and alloy Deda finishing kit the Stretto is a marginal 60 quid dearer at £3,359.
Coming in a fair bit cheaper is something like the Boardman SLR 9.4 Disc, which has similar endurance-flavoured geometry to the Cinelli. It costs £2,850 but comes with a SRAM Rival eTap AXS wireless groupset and a set of 30mm-deep alloy wheels. We reviewed the slightly higher spec SLR 9.6 here, which comes with Ultegra Di2 and deep-section carbon rims.
A Superstar frameset is available for £1,999.
Ditch the heavy-feeling wheels and the Cinelli Superstar is a fun bike to ride, delivering on both the performance and the comfort fronts. The neutral handling makes it an easy bike to ride too, and overall the spec list is decent for the money.
A high-quality ride from the frameset that is offset slightly by heavy-feeling wheels and tyres
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Cinelli Superstar Disc Ultegra
Size tested: Medium, 55cm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
Components: Shimano Ultegra 11x Hydraulic
Chainset: FSA Gossamer 34/50T
Disc Brakes: Shimano Ultegra Hydraulic
Cassette: Tifosi 11x 11/34T
Chain: KMC 11x
Saddle: Selle Italia Model X
Bar/Stem/Seatpost: Tifosi Alloy
Wheelset: Vision Team 30 TLR Disc
Tyres: Schwalbe Lugano II 700x28c
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: "The Superstar Disc is Cinelli's UCI Approved carbon endurance disc bike and is innovation in its finest form. Using traditional Italian racing geometry, the frame is designed to give comfort in multi-day events and Gran Fondos, but to also be quick enough for racing and sprints."
Its endurance geometry makes it a bike that you can ride in comfort for long distances, while also being set up that you could race on it should you wish.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
There is also a Shimano 105 Di2 build for £3,799, or you could buy the frameset for £1,999 and build it up yourself.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
A high-quality frame and fork finished with a glossy, durable paintjob.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
Frame: Columbus Carbon Monocoque
Fork: Columbus Futura Disc 1 1/8" - 1 1/2" Monocoque
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry is endurance based, which means the frame angles and riding position aren't quite as extreme as you'd find on a full-on race bike.
How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?
Stack and reach are fairly typical for this size of endurance road bike.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Overall, the ride comfort is great through the frmae and fork. Let down a little by the wheels and tyres.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
Stiffness is great thanks to the oversize bottom bracket junction and the tube profiles entering it.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is great through the components and frameset, although efficiency is hampered slightly by the wheels.
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? Neutral
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The handling feels smooth and easy to live with, which is ideal for tackling challenging terrain on those long rides.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?
I liked the shape of the saddle.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?
I had no issues with the FSA chainset when it came to putting the power through the pedals, nor indeed with any other of the components.
Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's efficiency? would you recommend any changes?
The wheels are sluggish and take some of the fun and efficiency away from the bike.
Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?
It would be nice to see a full Ultegra groupset from an aesthetics point of view, but performance-wise the change to an FSA chainset and Tifosi cassette (and the KMC chain) caused no issues.
Wheels and tyres
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?
I'm not a fan of the Vision wheels and think their ride quality and weight hampers the bike's overall performance. And at least one retailer offers wheel upgrades when you buy the bike.
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?
Good tyres for general riding and training with decent grip and puncture protection too. But the Superstar does deserve something lighter and more supple.
Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?
A decent level of kit, and all of the parts did their job absolutely fine.
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes – on the whole.
Would you consider buying the bike? Possibly – although I'd factor in buying better wheels.
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's a very similar price to the Moda Stretto I mentioned in the review, and gets a better groupset than the Trek at virtually the same money. The Boardman referred to offers impressive value for money though.
Use this box to explain your overall score
It really is only the wheels that are holding the Cinelli back to a three-and-a-half rating. If it was just down to the frameset's ride quality and performance it would be a solid four stars throughout.
About the tester
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,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!