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Art Archivi - Cinelli

True Story: The Origins of the Cinelli Art Program Part 2

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We continue to look at the evolution of Cinelli’s Art Program, from its first interactions with artists in 1980s Milan to its airbrushed pro-edition RAM handlebars to the heady mix of subculture, design and d.i.y. art that characterized the fixed gear movement to its iconic best-selling cycling caps.

 

As discussed in Part 1 of our look at the Art Program, whilst Cinelli’s collaborative relationship with artists goes back more than 40 years to its work with Italo Lupi, Alessandro Mendini and Keith Haring.

It was only in the early 2010s that these relationships crystalized into an informal “program” offering regular drops of products made in collaboration with artists and only in 2015 that the program would officially be baptized with a logo.

 

 

Starting in 2008 with the birth of its relationship with San Francisco rider collective MASH SF as well as the ground-breaking Cinelli X RVCA Pressure exhibition involving artists such as KAWS, Barry McGee, Phil Frost, C.R. Stcyk III, Cinelli rode a wave of cultural excitement around cycling that mixed subcultural attitude with Italian design and underground D.I.Y. art scenes.

 

 

This cultural moment brought Cinelli into contact with a new generation of international artists and provocateurs whose creativity it felt bound to share.

 

 

2011 saw the launch of the “Art Tapes” range with a Mike Giant Velvet Ribbon and MASH SF printed volée tape and Barry McGee Unicanitor bar saddle.
2013 the almost-mythical Cinelli Candela, a set of two Made in Italy carbon fiber track frames handpainted by Futura, 2014 the first cycling cap with an artist (what took us so long?), Ana Benaroya’s Eye of the Storm whilst finally 2015 saw the moniker “Cinelli Art Program” enter into its catalogues with official logo and caps designed by artist-riders Chas Christiansen, Alfred Bobe Jr and Lucas Brunelle.

Since then Cinelli has collaborated with over 20 artists on bikes, tapes, jerseys, one-off jackets but above all caps.

It is in fact the Cinelli Art Program cycling cap which has become a global symbol of an evolved, alternative and open-minded attitude towards performance cycling.

Stay tuned for the first Art Program launches of 2023 in the coming months by subscribing to our newsletter.

 

Discover more about the Cinelli Art Program products on our webstore.

How We First Met #5: Kondo and Cinelli Pressure & XCR

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Yuji Kondo is a 36-year old Japanese cyclist living in the Kanagawa prefecture, outside of Tokyo.
An impeccably stylish and strongly-opinionated cyclist he has developed something of a cult following online thanks to the extravagant modeling of his collection of bikes and clothes.
We caught up with him for a chat about his thoughts on performance cycling, fashion, design and of course his two very special Cinellis, a stainless steel XCR and aerodynamic 2022 Pressure.

 

 

Ciao Kondo!

Hi Lodovico!

So my first question is really about your uniquely creative approach to cycling style. Could you explain to me a little bit your “style philosophy”?

I have a passion for combining road biking with art and fashion. I don’t need a road bike to be only fast. My feeling is that in both road bikes and fashion it is good to seek rationality and the latest trends in simple design. Designs that pursue aerodynamics and lightweight to the extreme, or frames and jerseys with near-monochromatic color schemes, as has been the trend in recent years, are good. But I find it boring that “everyone is the same”. If you want to have fun, don’t you want to be more assertive? So as a cyclist I try to find and use more artistic products in order to express my sensibility differently from others. This also leads to more opportunities to socialize with different people. I try to be playful, even with socks or gloves. This way you might even get a “Hey, that’s so stylish! when you stop on a ride for a break. Following this philosophy Cinelli has become one of these tools for me to express my sensibility.

How did you first come across Cinelli and how did you understand that it could be, like you said, a tool for expressing your sensibility? 

 My first encounter with Cinelli was when I came across images of a 1980s Cinelli Laser track bike in a Japanese road bike magazine. Apart from the bike I also immediately was drawn to the logo, which I later discovered was designed by Italo Lupi. I was impressed by the overwhelming beauty and coolness of Cinelli’s design, and was captivated by the brand.

As I got to know the brand better I discovered that the appeal of Cinelli for me lay in its stylish design and hidden performance. Unlike with other companies, thanks to Cinelli’s tasteful design pioneered by Antonio Colombo and elements such as the Italo Lupi logo with its very unusual colours, and I feel that the concept of a road bike as a competition tool is removed in a good sense, and the bike can be enjoyed as a work of art.

In fact, I have a perception that in Japan Cinelli is considered a fashionable brand, and yet it has the performance to be used in competitions… It is truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing!

 

 

How did the XCR end up becoming your first ever Cinelli bike?

Up until I bought the XCR I had been riding so-called “high-end” carbon frames but I was curious to try other materials. The materials I considered were titanium and steel. Since above all I wanted to buy a Cinelli, steel had to be the material. And since I had already decided that the Supercorsa will be the last bike I buy in my life the XCR remained the most interesting option. I was intrigued by the fact that the bike was made from stainless steel, an unusual material for a road bike. And for this reason I bought it. 

I find the XCR to be a great frame that combines the suppleness and tenacity of chromoly with the responsiveness of high-end carbon. Surprisingly it tames uncomfortable road noise, and pedaling with the suppleness gives good acceleration. It is the most comfortable frame I have ever owned, and the weight is light for a steel frame, and it is very comfortable to ride. Not only for long rides, but also for hill climbs, as it is a frame that puts less strain on the legs in a good way, so it is more comfortable than the stiff high-end carbon frames.

 

And soon after buying the XCR you also bought a Pressure!

Yes! The Pressure is truly for racing. On the flat, I can ride very fast with an aero position. It’s so much fun to realize that the latest aerodynamic performance is so much better than traditional bikes, and I can face the headwind without getting tired. The Pressure handles more like a TT bike due to its geometry and although it does feel a little heavier, can hill climb. I don’t have any problem with this weight considering the advantages on flat terrain. 

Pressure and XCR are clearly aimed at different fields. I ride Pressure when training or ride a certain distance in a short time. XCR is for long distance or leisurely rides. For example, when I go for a gourmet ride with friends.

 

 

Last question, I know that your team is called Goloso i.e. good appetite in Italian. Obviously food is very important for you, so could you share with us a recommendation for a great place to stop to eat when riding outside of Tokyo? Or a classic local snack to have on a break? 

There are several places to eat that I would recommend when riding in Tokyo.

First, there is the tempura bowl at Yamatoya, located on the approach to Shibamata Teishakuten, a famous temple in Tokyo. It is a traditional dish of tempura topped with rice and sweet soy sauce.

This store is also famous for its sweets called Kusa-dango. The combination of mochi and anko (red bean paste) is sure to soothe your tired body and give you energy! The temple Shibamata Teishakuten is a very nice and Japanese sightseeing spot, although road bikes are not allowed. Please visit here as well.

My next recommendation is Zebra Coffee, located along the Ridge Highway. Here you can enjoy croissants and coffee, etc. in a stylish space. It is also nice that bike racks are located here since many cyclists use it. It’s close to the city center, so you can eat here before heading to your destination, or stop by for a post-ride rest.

My last tip is Enomoto Dairyfarm, located along the Arakawa Cycling Road, the most famous cycling road in Tokyo. This is a famous spot that is not unknown to Tokyo cyclists. You can enjoy fresh and delicious dairy products such as gelato, milk, yogurt, etc. that only a dairy farm can offer. And since winter is coming to Japan, you can warm your body and soul with a glass of hot milk!

There are many other delicious and highly recommended places to eat, but I can’t introduce them all…

 

Discover more about the Pressure and the XCR on our website.

True Story: The Origins of the Cinelli Art Program Part 1

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The origins of Cinelli’s unique relationship with art are scattered across the late 1970s and early 1980s.

They can be found in their graphic designer of choice, Italo Lupi who would go on to design Miu Miu and Fiorucci logos as well as Miuccia Prada’s private residence, in its commissions from stalwarts of the 1980s Milan design scene such as Alessandro Mendini or the Alchimia group, or in the exchange of letters and ideas between Keith Haring and Antonio Colombo that led to the now iconic Laser collaboration

 

 

But the origins of the Cinelli Art Program – the program within which the brand’s relationship with art has been formalized into products, most famously our signature cycling caps adorned with custom commissioned graphics for artists such as Futura2000, Ana Benaroya, Barry McGee, Mike Giant and Yoon Hyup – can be located in a single, unusual, moment: the Cinelli RAM AUTOGRAPH.

The Cinelli RAM, launched in 2001, was the world’s first ever integrated carbon fiber handlebar and stem.

A pioneering project at a time when carbon fiber technology was still nascent in the cycling industry, the bars were an immediate success in the professional peloton, with their stiffness and responsiveness literally changing the way a generation of professionals would ride their bike, as Gilberto Simoni so articulately put it in his interview in the Cinelli: the Art and Design of the Bicycle.

 

 

The success of the bar from a technological point of view immediately led to Cinelli’s favourite pastime: “play”.

Over the next 5 years a series of ever more exuberant and unusual hand-painted (or even randomly hand placed carbon strips…) graphic schemes were released, dedicated to different professional riders.

These were sold under the name of RAM AUTOGRAPH.

In 2010, Antonio Colombo’s friendship with the artist Mike Giant led to the brand commissioning Giant to produce a new RAM AUTOGRAPH graphic.

Thanks to the creative team’s closeness to the burgeoning fixed gear scene and urban culture in general they proposed to Colombo adapt Giant’s graphics to a series of more affordable and immediate products such as bar tape and cycling caps that could be purchased and used by urban track bike riders.

And it was these new Mike Giant illustrated products which inaugurated the first ever edition of the Cinelli Artist Program.
Over the last twelve years the brand has gone on to collaborate with over 25 different artists.

The opinionated, outspoken and spontaneous creative freedom of these artists, combined with Cinelli’s historical closeness to Il Grande Ciclismo has transformed the Cinelli cycling cap into the definitive icon of a new cycling attitude…

 

Discover more about the Cinelli Art Program products on our webstore.