Home
Verdict: 
High quality steel Sunday bike with an involving ride and a classic look
Weight: 
8,460g
Cinelli Nemo Tig Athena
8 10

Cinelli's Nemo Tig is a high quality steel framed road bike that puts in a strong performance. It's responsive and fun to ride, with great balance and poise on both the ups and the downs. The only real downside for using steel is the weight, but if you're after a great-looking and riding bike for general road riding, rather than something to race on, this Cinelli is well worth your consideration.

> Find your nearest dealer here

> Buy this online here

The ride: steely

It's possible to build a sweet-handling bike out of anything, if you know what you're doing. But different materials bring different properties to the mix, and for steel what you're expecting from a good frame is a lively feel, a springiness that makes the bike feel fluid underneath you.

Cinelli Nemo - riding 2.jpg

Cinelli Nemo - riding 2.jpg

The Nemo Tig is crafted from Columbus Spirit tubing. Spirit tubesets are constructed from Columbus Niobium steel which contains manganese, chrome, nickel, molybdenum and niobium. It's heat treated after forming, to increase its tensile strength; in terms of material properties it's similar to Reynolds 725.

Cinelli Nemo TIG - down tube decal.jpg

Cinelli Nemo TIG - down tube decal.jpg

The tube shaping and frame construction have more of an impact on the feel of a frame than the grade of steel used, though. The Nemo Tig has an oversized head tube to add stiffness at the front and the down tube is flattened at the press fit bottom bracket to the same end. Other than that, and the flattened chainstays, the tube profiles are clasically round and the colour-matched carbon fork is sleek enough to blend in too.

Cinelli Nemo TIG - full bike.jpg

Cinelli Nemo TIG - full bike.jpg

From the off, the Cinelli is a fun bike to ride. I was piloting it around the hills of Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy, and the road surfaces there are interesting, to say the least. The Nemo felt composed over the rougher tarmac without feeling detached, and on the smoother surfaces it was happy to zing along quietly and without fuss.

> Read our guide to the best steel road bikes and frames

It's an engaging bike to ride, and it certainly gives you that lively feel you want from a steel bike without ever feeling vague. The front end is stiff and direct in the turn: this is a bike that's a lot of fun to point down a fast descent, even on a variable surface. On open bends with good visibility, when it was possible to point the bike at the apex and hold your speed, it never missed the mark. It's an assured descender.

Cinelli Nemo TIG - fork.jpg

Cinelli Nemo TIG - fork.jpg

The stiff alloy Cinelli Vai stem and bar helped there, without being so stiff as to render the bike uncomfortable. It's designed to be comfy over long distances; it doesn't have the surface-taming qualities of something like a Trek Domane or Specialized Roubaix, but it does a good job of holding the middle ground between super-stiff race bikes and comfort-orientated endurance bikes. I completed some long (150km+) rides without feeling like I'd reached my limit, comfort-wise.

Cinelli Nemo TIG - bar and stem.jpg

Cinelli Nemo TIG - bar and stem.jpg

On punchy climbs and sprints, when it's time to get out of the saddle and give it the gas, the Nemo is excellent fun. It's not as stiff at the back as a big-section carbon frame, but it's not so flexy as to cause any issues. Under full power it was possible to induce a bit of brake rub at the back but that's as likely to be from flex in the wheels as the frame; in reality a combination of both. The 35mm Miche Altur wheelset wasn't the highlight of the bike, but they're dependable alloy wheels and they feel stable at speed. The rear didn't survive being run into by a Bolognese moto rider, but that's not really a fair test, nor one I want to repeat.

Weighty matters

The weight in the wheels and the frame mean that overall weight comes in at just under 8.5kg. You could build the bike up with lighter choices and have a finished bike in the 7s, but it's not really designed to compete on weight with carbon. I never found the weight of the bike to be an issue, really. There's plenty of climbing to be done around Riccione and the Nemo made it up everything, including the Giro d'Italia stage finish to the ski station at Eremo, without fuss.

Cinelli Nemo - riding 3.jpg

Cinelli Nemo - riding 3.jpg

Would it have been quicker on a superlight carbon race machine? Yes, a bit. But it didn't curtail the enjoyment one bit. Having a slightly lower gear than 34x27 on some of the steeper climbs would have made some of the riding a bit more enjoyable, though.

Cinelli Nemo TIG - derailleur.jpg

Cinelli Nemo TIG - derailleur.jpg

Other than the lack of a rescue sprocket, I don't really have many complaints about the Campagnolo Athena groupset. Changes were crisp and reliable, and the new lower position of the downshift lever means it's a lot easier to reach from the drops than previous incarnations. Once or twice the bike shipped the chain when dropping to the smaller chainring, which a chain catcher would have avoided.

Cinelli Nemo TIG - front mech.jpg

Cinelli Nemo TIG - front mech.jpg

Aesthetically, the groupset certainly suits the bike, which was unanimously regarded as a very pretty thing. The metallic purple finish is exquisite and really shines in the Italian sun. Silver, red, black or yellow frames are also available if purple's not your thing. It's a classic-looking machine, with external cabling and simple profiles, but the ride is very much modern steel.

Threaded v press-fit

Any gripes? Well, I wish it had been given a threaded bottom bracket. Not that I had any issues with the press-fit one in a week of sunny riding, but on a bike like this, where aesthetics and ride quality are higher priorities than stiffness, it's incongruous. A press-fit BB gives you a wider shell to work with, so carbon bikes can increase the size of the down tube and chainstays for a rock-solid core. Even then, I'm not convinced that your average Joe (ie me) can really feel the benefit. I've ridden threaded-BB carbon bikes (like the excellent Raleigh Revenio 4 that I borrowed for a previous Italy week) that are plenty stiff enough to deal with anything I throw at them, and I'm a big lad.

Cinelli Nemo TIG - bottom bracket.jpg

Cinelli Nemo TIG - bottom bracket.jpg

The Nemo Tig doesn't even make use of the wider shell: everything that's welded on could have been welded to a 68mm threaded bottom bracket. So it's a shame the bike doesn't have one. They're easier to service and less prone to issues.

Other than that, there's very little about this bike that I'd change. If it was my money I'd probably go for some lighter, shallower wheels and a carbon seatpost, but as specced it was a very enjoyable bike to ride and a brilliant companion for a week in the Italian hills. It'd be just at home back here on the patchy UK tarmac.

Verdict

High quality steel Sunday bike with an involving ride and a classic look

road.cc test report

Make and model: Cinelli Nemo Tig Athena

Size tested: 59cm

About the bike

State the frame and fork material and method of construction. List the components used to build up the bike.

Frame: Columbus Spirit triple butted steel

Fork: Columbus FEL monocoque carbon

Seatpost Diameter: 27.2mm

Cable Routing: External

Headset: Columbus Compass 1-1/8' - 1-1/2'

BB Threading: Press Fit 86.5

Frame Weight: 1800g

Fork Weight: 350g

Shifters: Campagnolo Athena 11x Ergos

Front/Rear Derailleur: Campagnolo Athena 11x

Chainset: Miche Primato Evo Max 34/50

Cassette: Miche Primato 11x 12/27

Saddle: Selle Italia X1 Flow

Wheelset: Miche Altur

Tyres: Vittoria Zaffiro 700x25c

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?

"The Nemo gives you the classic comfort that can only come from a steel frame. It is hungry to eat up the miles of your race, sportive or long distance event," says Cinelli.

So racing to long-distace riding. For me it's most suited to long, fast(ish) Sunday rides, sportives and the like. It's a bit heavy for actual racing.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
9/10

Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?

Excellent.

Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?

Columbus Spirit tubing, full carbon fork.

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

XL was a 575mm effective top tube with a 185mm head tube. Slightly shorter than I'd normally ride but still a comfortable position.

How was the bike in terms of height and reach? How did it compare to other bikes of the same stated size?

It was fine, maybe a touch on the small side for an XL bike, although there is an XXL too.

Riding the bike

Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.

Lively and engaging to ride, comfortable over long distances.

Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?

It felt just like a good steel bike should: stiff enough to be efficient and springy enough to give it a bit of flow.

How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?

Yes.

Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so, was it a problem?

No issues.

How would you describe the steering? Was it lively, neutral or unresponsive? On the lively side of neutral.

Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?

Handling is excellent: steering is precise, bike is very agile.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's comfort? would you recommend any changes?

I'd swap the wheels for a shallower, lighter pair and get a carbon seatpost.

Which components had the most effect (good or bad) on the bike's stiffness? would you recommend any changes?

It felt just about right on the stiffness front. You don't want a steel bike to be over-stiff.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
9/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for value:
 
6/10

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
5/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
6/10
Rate the wheels for value:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
6/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for value:
 
7/10

Controls

Rate the controls for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the controls for durability:
 
9/10
Rate the controls for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for comfort:
 
7/10
Rate the controls for value:
 
7/10

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? For a Sunday bike to show off on sunny days? Sure!

Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
7/10

Use this box to explain your score

I really liked riding the Nemo Tig and the performance was very good. If you're in the market for this particular type of bike then the Cinelli is decent value, but that's probably less of a concern than the look and the ride feel.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 43  Height: 189cm  Weight: 92kg

I usually ride: whatever I'm testing...  My best bike is: Kinesis Tripster ATR, Kinesis Aithein

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Every day  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: road racing, time trialling, cyclo-cross, commuting, club rides, sportives, general fitness riding, fixed/singlespeed, mountain biking, Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling, track

Dave is a founding father of road.cc and responsible for kicking the server when it breaks. In a previous life he was a graphic designer but he's also a three-time Mountain Bike Bog Snorkelling world champion, and remains unbeaten through the bog. Dave rides all sorts of bikes but tends to prefer metal ones. He's getting old is why.

9 comments

Avatar
Ogi [150 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Nice review Dave! I absolutely love how this bike looks. The only downside, as it was mentioned is the BB standard. I have no clue why it happens on some of the alloy/steel frames (Cinelli Nemo, Genesis Volare, Condor Super Acciaio, Bowman Palace, Kinesis Aithein...). I don't want to go into threaded vs. threadless BB, but for the type of riding that some of these bikes are designed and general tube-engineering behind it - I can't see the point.
I think the frame price is around 1500 GBP, which I think is a lot - when compared to Volare, albeit Volare has slightly more aggressive geometry. You could also do some custom made Reynolds 853 for about the same money. On the other hand, that purple colour and Italian frame...

Avatar
Yorkshire wallet [2134 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

As above, I love the look but even if I was flush enough to throw money around I'd still think twice given you can get a lot more for less.

Then again, some things are about a feeling rather than a monetary value so maybe I would chuck money at it.

 

 

Avatar
alotronic [574 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Nice to see a review for a bike that makes no sense at all other than it's just fun to ride. Nice one Dave!

Avatar
srchar [929 posts] 1 year ago
2 likes

Why use a PF BB on a steel frame? That alone puts me off. I put up with them on carbon because it's understandably cheaper than bonding in a metal part for threading, but what's the saving here, a few pence?

Avatar
srchar [929 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

[double post deleted]

Avatar
Langsam [69 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Dave, what's the difference in riding 'feel' (subjective, I know), between one of these modern steel frames with their oversized tubing and, say, a classic steel frame? Do the oversized tubes really make a significant difference and in a good way?

My 'best' road bike is a '79 Merckx Corsa Extra (Columbus SLX)with a modern wheelset & STI groupset. It's a lovely ride and seems both stiff and springy enough. Are these modern steel bikes revelatory?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.

Avatar
othello [405 posts] 1 year ago
1 like

Had me hooked until I read about the BB...

Avatar
s_lim [217 posts] 1 year ago
0 likes

Gorgeous bike.

Regarding the press-fit; I think it's a non-issue if you use Campagnolo. Campy bearings are pressed onto the axles, and the whole thing is held in place by shells, so threaded or press-on makes no difference. I run Record on a PF86 system on a Kinesis Aethein, and apart from the usual wear and tear on bearings, haven't had anything like the experience i've seen/heard on Shimano/Sram press-fit bikes. So Athena on this bad boy makes sense - Chorus would be even better.

Avatar
jadne [1 post] 1 year ago
0 likes

Stay away from that Cinelli crap! Over 3 months of struggling with the faulty product and no even one "sorry".

Frame is not straight, poorly made and faulty.

The only thing left in Cinelli is brand, they don't have any R&D and literaly no quality.