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Cinelli HoBootleg

7
£1,499.00

VERDICT:

7
10
Comfortable to ride on all kinds of terrain, with a certain 'old school' charm, if pricey against the competition
Comfortable frame
Plenty of mounts
Accessories included in the price
Pricey against the competition
Weight: 
13,780g

At road.cc every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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The Cinelli HoBootleg keeps things simple; it's a back-to-basics, do-it-all tourer/adventure bike, a combination of a strong, reliable frameset and components that can be fixed at the side of the road, or a workshop in the back of beyond. It has a decent ride quality, too, and even though it is on the heavy side, it isn't a chore to ride.

If you're dreaming about seeing the world on two wheels, check out our guide to the best touring bikes, or for adventures on the rough stuff, our guide to the best gravel bikes.

You could argue that the HoBootleg is a gravel bike from before gravel bikes were a thing. It's been in Cinelli's line-up for more than a decade, and achieved an impressive 'adventure' palmares according to the opening paragraph on Cinelli's website, such as breaking the Guinness World Record for crossing the world by bicycle and conquering all seven of the world's highest mountain passes.

Cinelli HoBootleg: Ride

As a big-tyred tourer it makes a lot of sense for everything from commuting to exploring your local lanes or a far-flung adventure, especially if you are on a budget. With new bike prices bringing a tear to the eye, the fact that Cinelli has priced this a penny under 1,500 quid is a bonus.

That's not to say there aren't compromises, the main one being weight, with this medium model coming in at 13.78kg (30.4lb) on our office scales.

Now, no one is looking at the HoBootleg and going 'ooooh...racy', but neither do you want to be riding around on a sluggish bike, especially if your route takes you up plenty of hills, or you have plenty of stop/start points like traffic lights on a commute. Thankfully, Cinelli has specced that rare beast – the triple chainset.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - crank.jpg

I can't even remember the last time I used one, but it is the HoBootleg's saving grace.

The combination of 48/36/26T chainrings mated to the 9-speed 11-34T cassette takes the strain when you are moving off the line and allows you to spin on pretty much any climb. Helpful if you are loaded up with kit, and the ascent is long.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - drivetrain.jpg

The inclusion of bar-end shifters is also something that takes a bit of getting used to, but for the type of riding the Cinelli is aimed at, where quick and crisp shifts aren't top of the list, they work.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - bar end shifter.jpg

In terms of ride quality, the Cinelli is a pleasant place to be. The frame and fork both have that supple feeling offered by steel tubing, topped up by the squidge allowed by the 37mm tyres, which makes the HoBootleg a joy to ride over long distances.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - tyre and rim.jpg

It's definitely a comfortable bike, with a riding position I found purposeful, with a decent drop from saddle to handlebar but without being overly extreme, keeping your upper body relaxed on longer trips.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - front.jpg

Feedback levels are decent enough, so you can feel what your tyres are up to regardless of terrain, although you can also feel a small amount of flex around the bottom bracket area and fork legs when putting the power down. It's nothing major, and for the type of bike it's well within the tolerances of what I'd expect.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - fork detail.jpg

In terms of its geometry, the HoBootleg has a shorter head tube than most modern gravel bikes, and therefore a slightly lower stack measurement. As I said above, though, the front end doesn't feel excessively low. Plus, with the fork's steel steerer you can also run plenty of spacers, whereas with carbon fibre the general consensus is to limit them to 20mm.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - stem.jpg

Other than that, the geometry is generally relaxed, with a 71-degree head angle and a wheelbase of over a metre on this review model, making it an easy bike to ride, even when loaded up with kit.

The handling is very neutral, so while not exactly exciting, it is easy to live with. Ideal for those rides where you don't know the terrain or when fatigue is starting to kick in.

For such a neutral front end the HoBootleg descends reassuringly well, helped I'd say by its overall weight. It feels planted and secure, which means you don't need to rein in the speed too much unless the descent is a technical one.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - fork.jpg

The brakes give decent stopping power, although there is a bit of flex in the system when you are really hauling on the anchors. With pretty much all of my riding being carried out on hydraulic discs these days, I did miss them in the wet, but I never found that the canti brakes reduced my confidence in the dry.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - front brake 2.jpg

Cinelli HoBootleg: Frame and Fork

The HoBootleg has a steel frame, specifically double-butted Columbus Cromor tubing, which is a 25CrMo4 steel, seamed and cold drawn, if you like to know the technical details.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - Columbus badge.jpg

Just like the full bike, it ain't light, with a frame averaging 2.3kg and the fork with an uncut steerer weighing in at 1.25kg.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - head tube badge.jpg

It's neatly welded, with an 'engineered' look to it thanks to the welds being left in their raw state rather than being sanded and filled. The red paint job is also functional, with its matt finish being tough and durable while still looking bright and vibrant.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - downtube graphics.jpg

All cables are run externally, with the multicoloured outers being directed along the upper part of the top tube. This keeps them out of the way of mud and road spray, and also allows you to carry the bike on your shoulder without any cables digging into your skin. They clash slightly with modern frame bags, but the fact that the HoBootleg comes with front and rear racks included (the front wasn't fitted in time for our pics) means you don't really need them.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - top tube.jpg

There are plenty of mounts other than those used for the racks, too. You get full mudguard mounting alongside your usual bottle cage mounts, and extra cage mounts under the down tube.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - underside bosses.jpg

The wheels are fitted to the frame and fork via quick release axles as opposed to thru-axles, which for this kind of bike I have no issue with whatsoever.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - rear quick release.jpg

The bottom bracket is set up to accept a threaded BSA 68mm.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - bottom bracket area.jpg

Tyre clearance is generous at 38mm with full mudguards fitted, and 42mm without.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - rear rack detail 2.jpg

Sizing-wise, the Cinelli is available in five options ranging from XS to XL. That equates to seat tube lengths of 490mm to 610mm measured from the centre of the bottom bracket to the top of the tube.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - frame size.jpg

I've touched on the general geometry in relation to other bikes above, and as I said there is nothing out of the ordinary really. On this medium size, you are looking at an effective top tube length of 540mm and a head tube length of 125mm. The seat tube is 480mm centre to centre (53cm centre to top), with an angle of 73.5 degrees, while the head angle is 1.5 degrees slacker. The wheelbase is 1,031mm in total, with 440mm chainstays.

In terms of stack and reach figures you are looking at 572mm and 370mm respectively.

Cinelli HoBootleg: Finishing kit

The HoBootleg is available in two versions, this one at £1,499 and the Easy Travel, which comes with Shimano's 9-speed Sora shifters/brake levers and a slightly larger ratio triple chainset, for £1,799.

The model we have uses a Sora front mech, Deore rear mech, Shimano triple chainset and Microshift bar-end shifters. Microshift also provides the cassette, while Tektro supplies the V-brake callipers and levers.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - rear brake.jpg

By modern standards the drivetrain and brakes are quite simplistic, but they work fine, plus they have the advantage of being easy to fix or bodge while out in the back of beyond. If you are using the Cinelli for touring across countries that don't have a gleaming high-end bike shop in every town or village, you are still likely to be able to get spares for the older technology components.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - brak ecable detail.jpg

Their performance isn't up there with the latest kit you can get, but with a bit of adaptation I never found either the brakes or gears to dampen the joy of riding or to be inferior.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - front mech.jpg

The rest of the finishing kit is Cinelli branded, with an alloy stem, handlebar and seatpost. It's decent stuff, with stiffness where it's required and, in the case of the handlebar, plenty of positions for your hands.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - bars 3.jpg

The saddle is a WTB Bolt, which I got on well with. Its slim nature suited my preference for saddles with minimal padding, and the length allows for changes in the fore and aft position.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - saddle and post.jpg

As for the wheels, they too are on the basic and weighty side, but decent performers, a combination of Alexrims and Shimano hubs, with 32 spokes front and rear.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - front hub.jpg

They're tough and durable, with no issues whatsoever when it comes to trueness and spoke tension. With brass nipples, corrosion isn't as much of an issue as with aluminium ones, and they should be easy to true out in the wilds should the need arise.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - rear rack detail.jpg

There is no mention of any tubeless compatibility with the wheels nor the WTB Riddler tyres, which may or may not be an issue for you.

The tyres are good all-rounders, with a slight tread for unpaved routes while still managing to roll well enough on the road. I rode the HoBootleg through a very wet December and beginning of January with their various storms and didn't suffer any punctures or issues from the roads strewn with branches and the like.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - tyre tread.jpg

Getting full mudguards is a bonus, although the front could definitely do with being longer, and a mudflap wouldn't go amiss to help keep your feet dry.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - front mudguard.jpg

The rear won't stop following riders getting covered in spray, either.

2023 Cinelli Hobootleg - rear mudguard.jpg

Cinelli HoBootleg: Value

While the HoBootleg comes in at a lower price point than many bikes on the market, that doesn't mean it's particularly good value compared with similar options.

Marin's Nicasio+ has a 4130 chromoly steel frame and fork, and weighs about the same at just over 13kg. It has cable-operated disc brakes, loads of mounting points and wide tyre clearances. The Microshift Advent groupset is 1x, so you don't get as wide a range of gearing as the Cinelli, but it is only £1,045.

Sonder's Santiago, which I rode  a few years back and was very impressed with overall, is a tourer with a steel frame and fork, a mixture of chromoly and Reynolds 631 for the main triangle. There's no triple chainset option, but at just over 11kg the bikes generally weigh 2kg less. Current builds start at £1,299 for a 1x SRAM Apex build with mechanical brakes, or for the same money as the Cinelli you can get a 1x Apex build with hydraulic brakes. A 2x SRAM Rival 22 Grand Tourer build, which includes full mudguards and a rear rack, is available for £1,799, the same money as the Sora-equipped Easy Travel HoBootleg.

We recently reviewed Spa Cycles' Elan Ti Mk2, which has similar tyre clearances to the HoBootleg, relaxed geometry and all the mounts you could need. The titanium frame pushes the price up, but for the more budget conscious it's also offered in steel, namely Reynolds 725. You also get a carbon fibre fork with an aluminium steerer. A Mk1 (post-mount calliper compatibility) Sora-equipped build with mechanical TRP Spyre disc brakes and a Spa triple chainset has an rrp of £1,450.

Cinelli HoBootleg: Conclusion

Overall, if you want a comfortable, back-to-basics tourer with the ability to take on variable terrains then look no further than the HoBootleg. It's got a lot going for it in terms of comfort and rideability. You'll want to find it on offer, though, as at full price it struggles against the competition on value.

Verdict

Comfortable to ride on all kinds of terrain, with a certain 'old school' charm, if pricey against the competition

road.cc test report

Make and model: Cinelli Hobootleg

Size tested: M/53

About the bike

List the components used to build up the bike.

Drivetrain: Shimano Sora 9 speed

Shifters: Tektro road race / MICROSHIFT Bar end shifter / 9 speed

Front Derailleur: SHIMANO SORA / 9 Speed / Band type

Rear Derailleur: Shimano Deore (RD-M592) / 9 Speed

Brakes: TEKTRO

Cassette: Microshift / 9 Speed / 11-34T

Chainset: SHIMANO / 48-36-26T / Size 170 (S/M) 175 (L/XL/XXL)

Chain: KMC (Z9)

Wheels: ALEX - SHIMANO Hub / 700c

Tyres: WTB Riddler / 700X37c / Tan sidewall

Handlebar: CINELLI Bootleg 31.8 / D: 116mm R: 75mm / Flare: 10Deg

Seatpost: CINELLI 6061 Seat Post / 27,2mm / L 350mm

Stem: CINELLI Bootleg Size 90 (S) 100 (M) 110 (L/XL/XXL)

Saddle: WTB Volt

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 bike you need if.....you want a do anything, go anywhere, steel adventure and touring bike, that is capable of circumnavigating the globe and can be maintained and repaired at the roadside without the need of a complete support team."

It has an excellent comfortable ride for those long, steady tours, and the simplistic nature of the components means you can fix and fettle them with minimal tools.

Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options

There are just two options: the model on test, and the HoBootleg Easy Travel, with Shimano Sora STI levers instead of the bar-end shifters, for £1,799.

Frame and fork

Overall rating for frame and fork
 
7/10

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

A well-finished and tidy build throughout the frame and fork.

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

Frame: COLUMBUS Cromor Double Butted Steel

Fork: COLUMBUS Cr-Mo Steel 1 1/8in

Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?

The geometry is relaxed, making for a bike that is easy to ride on variable terrain.

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

The short head tube gives a slightly lower stack height compared to an endurance road bike of a similar size, but the fact that you can run many spacers if you desire means the front end doesn't give too extreme a position. This means you could go for the smaller option if you are between frame sizes like I was, without sacrificing front end height.

Riding the bike

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

Yes. You get that smooth steel ride feel, backed up by the voluminous tyres.

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

There is some flex around the bottom bracket area and the fork legs, although not enough to cause any concern for the type of riding the Cinelli is designed for.

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

Power transfer is within the expected limits for this kind of bike, but as I said above you can feel flex around the bottom bracket area when climbing hard out of the saddle.

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

No.

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 relaxed front end gives neutral handling on and off the road.

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

The saddle is comfortable and the tyres feel reasonably supple.

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

The wheels feel tight, and I didn't notice any major flex from the handlebar when out of the saddle.

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

A triple chainset offsets the bike's overall weight.

Rate the bike for efficiency of power transfer:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for acceleration:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for sprinting:
 
6/10
Rate the bike for high speed stability:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for cruising speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for low speed stability:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for flat cornering:
 
8/10
Rate the bike for cornering on descents:
 
7/10
Rate the bike for climbing:
 
7/10

The drivetrain

Rate the drivetrain for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the drivetrain for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the drivetrain for weight:
 
7/10

Tell us some more about the drivetrain. Anything you particularly did or didn't like? Any components which didn't work well together?

A mix of components but it works well, especially if you want a bike that's relatively easy to service and fix.

Wheels and tyres

Rate the wheels for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the wheels for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the wheels for comfort:
 
7/10

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?

A solid build that is well chosen for this kind of bike, focusing on durability over performance.

Rate the tyres for performance:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for durability:
 
8/10
Rate the tyres for weight:
 
7/10
Rate the tyres for comfort:
 
7/10

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 all-round tyres that work well enough on the road and away from it.

Controls

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

Tell us some more about the controls. Any particularly good or bad components? How would the controls work for larger or smaller riders?

Decent all-round kit; nothing flash but it does the job.

Your summary

Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes

Would you consider buying the bike? Possibly, if I could get it at a reduced price.

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 is much more expensive than many other bikes in this genre, like the three mentioned in the review.

Rate the bike overall for performance:
 
8/10
Rate the bike overall for value:
 
4/10

Use this box to explain your overall score

It's generally a very good bike, based around a quality frame and fork and simple and reliable components. It does look pricey, though, compared with the competition on a like-for-like basis, which is what limits the overall score to 7; it's good, but a lower price might have tipped it into an 8.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 44  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,

As part of the tech team here at F-At Digital, senior product reviewer Stu spends the majority of his time writing in-depth reviews for road.cc, off-road.cc and ebiketips using the knowledge gained from testing over 1,500 pieces of kit (plus 100's of bikes) since starting out as a freelancer back in 2009. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 170,000 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. With a background in design and engineering, he has an obsession with how things are developed and manufactured, has a borderline fetish for handbuilt metal frames and finds a rim braked road bike very aesthetically pleasing!

Add new comment

17 comments

Avatar
KDee | 5 months ago
0 likes

Could've taken off the height guide sticker from the front mech before snapping the pics 

Avatar
Jem PT | 5 months ago
2 likes

Bikes like this would be so much more useful if they came with dynamo lights, like is often the case with this type of bike in Europe. I wanted a utility bike (like this) last year and the number with dynamo lights was really quite small. Still at least it made the choosing easier. Yes, of course you can retro-fit but it's never the same and involves more expense.

Avatar
wtjs | 5 months ago
0 likes

Fair enough, we can agree on that. I have bikes with rim brakes. It's just that the Vitus gravel bike with Sora/ TRP cable discs I bought for £650 in October 2019 is so much better than all the other bikes for my present purposes, that I hardly ever use them

Avatar
wtjs | 5 months ago
1 like

You would have to be a really dedicated Luddite to buy a new bike for this purpose without discs. And as for bar-end shifters...!

Avatar
cyclisto replied to wtjs | 5 months ago
1 like

I ride (including loaded touring at mountains when I toured) without disks and while once I had briefly a flat bar bike with hydraulic disks, they were amazing, I would happily buy one again with V-brakes, if the price was significantly cheaper as it is not that wet here.

Bar end shifters are a great No for most cyclists (including me) but they are often found in touring bikes for ease of maintenance.

This bike makes sense for some people, its price is not.

Avatar
wtjs replied to cyclisto | 5 months ago
0 likes

I ride (including loaded touring at mountains when I toured) without disks

So did I, when there wasn't anything (a lot) better. However, there is now, so sensible people don't buy new without the improvement which is now so routine that it's cheap.

Avatar
wtjs replied to cyclisto | 5 months ago
2 likes

The difference is, I'm still doing it now, and I'll be up there again tomorrow night.

Avatar
cyclisto replied to wtjs | 5 months ago
0 likes

Don't make me jealous! Maybe I will be again back on the saddle for longer distances if I repair me a little.

True, disks are better, but to keep costs down, I wouldn't mind living without them.

Avatar
KDee replied to cyclisto | 5 months ago
0 likes

Ease of maintenance? How do you find routing those cables through the entire handlebar? 

Avatar
mark1a replied to KDee | 5 months ago
3 likes

KDee wrote:

Ease of maintenance? How do you find routing those cables through the entire handlebar? 

The cable outers are under the bar tape, not inside the bars.

Avatar
matthewn5 replied to wtjs | 5 months ago
0 likes

wtjs wrote:

You would have to be a really dedicated Luddite to buy a new bike for this purpose without discs.

There's a really good argument in the Thorn catalogue for why cantis/V-brakes are better for touring, and it's about the fork. A disk fork has to be built so stiff that it makes for a fatiguing ride. And when you're touring, you're not going fast anyway, so no need for disks. Steel canti/v-brake forks with a bend like these are supremely comfortable for long distances: they really smooth out vibration and roughness. It's a case of horses for courses.

Avatar
fixit | 5 months ago
0 likes

just another overpriced shit bike (frame is good but...)from the italian brand. shit components, shit accesories, no more shit please, hipsters are dead.Next please.

Avatar
mark1a replied to fixit | 5 months ago
6 likes

fixit wrote:

just another overpriced shit bike (frame is good but...)from the italian brand. shit components, shit accesories, no more shit please, hipsters are dead.Next please.

I'll put you down as a no then.

Avatar
Creakingcrank | 5 months ago
2 likes

Cantilever brakes, surely.

Avatar
cyclisto replied to Creakingcrank | 5 months ago
2 likes

Given that it has barend shifters, it could use normal V-brakes and mountain V-brakes pull brake levers (not very common, Cane Creek made them), but they may wanted to make a more easy to service bicycle when in a weird country. Other option is to keep the installed here normal road brake cable pull brake levers and use mini-V brakes, but that would somehow limit tire clearance.

In all of my cantilever encounters they seemed very underpowered, thus I would like to avoid them.

Avatar
Secret_squirrel replied to Creakingcrank | 5 months ago
2 likes

Yes.  Canti's seem perverse.  V's are available in road pulls and easier to bodge and less sensitive to set up well.

Avatar
Creakingcrank replied to Secret_squirrel | 5 months ago
1 like

For sure!  Although I made my comment because the article orginally described the brakes on this bike as "V-brakes". That was swiftly changed, so now I just look silly.

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