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Admittedly the last time we put a lot of miles on a steel bike we were shifting on the down tube and Duran Duran was ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’. Thankfully the new Cinelli Nemo Tig greeted us like an old friend that wanted to get some miles in. It’s Cinelli’s newest performance steel road frame and blends a nostalgic look and feel with modern performance. Of course, it’s made in Italy.
Handbuilt with Columbus Spirit triple-butted steel formulated with manganese, chrome, nickel, molybdenum and niobium, this steel is far from an old school material. It has refreshingly classic lines and pure Italian race geometry with some modern details like an oversized top tube, and a down tube that flattens at the press-fit 86.5mm bottom bracket.
The most attractive feature of this frame are the seamless TIG welds joining the seat cluster and the integrated seat clamp providing even dispersal of rider weight throughout the frame. It’s a classic steel fast back design, evoking pure function, speed and efficiency in any material. They are identical to the legendary Cinelli Laser’s seat stays from 1981. Using a 1.5” tapered head tube with the Columbus FEL fork adds carbon where it is a logical and effective addition to the frame set. While it forgoes classic lugs, the Tig welding really is gorgeously executed.
Hit the road and one will instantly notice that road chatter and vibrations are almost entirely canceled. On some high-strung race bikes every imperfection travels through the frame, but the Nemo Tig finds a way of ignoring it, leaving the pavement behind and just involving the bike, rider and the miles ahead. We’ve learned to anticipate rough surfaces in the road by bracing our riding position and trying to be light on the pedals. This is not necessary on the Nemo as it soaks up the shock and impact before it reaches you. We told a friend that If we had to get up out of our chair right now crank out a 100 miler, we would pick this bike out of the quiver. It is comfortable. The Nemo Tig will fit a 28mm, tire but not on the wide HED Ardennes + wheels. We think this is actually too much tire for the bike. A 25mm is perfect. It reminds us how riders got away with high pressure 23mm tires for so many years.
The front-end is responsive and precise with no twitchiness or unpredictability. With a frame tipping the scales 1000grams heavier than today’s carbon – 1850grams for a medium – sprinting and climbing it’s no match for über stiff and light carbon, but it descends so well that lost can time be made up with an aggressive downhill bomb. It absolutely shines on descents. With a tight rear end, short overall wheel base and race inspired position it’s comfortable when you get aggressvie. Take the wrong line or heading for a pothole? Don’t worry about it, the Cinelli has your back.
The Nemo Tig is a modern high-performance do-it-all steel bike. Sure It can be used for racing, club riding and Sunday strolls, but what it does perfectly is make cycling a joy on all levels, don’t worry about what your watts-per-kilo are, just enjoy the ride.
Our test rig came built with Shimano Ultegra and HED Ardennes+ wheels fitted with Challenge Paris-Roubaix tires and carbon Ultimate bars and seat post with an Ultimate alloy stem and Selle San Marco Shortfit saddle. We’d love to see this bike with a Campy Chorus or Potenza build and some Campy or Fulcrum wheels for the full, classic Italian flavor. When the Cinelli Nemo Tig is waiting in the garage with your other aero and super lightweight carbon rigs it will whisper into your ear – “Andiamo amigo mio!”
The frame set retails for $2400 if you’re ready to build a made in Italy project bike.
As built: 8.2kg/18.1lbs size XL.