Review: Cinelli Nemo Tig
July 18th, 2016
July 18th, 2016
Anna is a jack-of-all-bikes, and has been riding and racing in a myriad of genres for over seven years; from World Cup level cross-country, to grass roots coaching kids on the road.
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The Cinelli Nemo Tig is finally here. For many of us, we drooled over their Purple Haze edition at various bike shows in 2015 and could only dream of what it would be like to ride. Is it a modern interpretation of the SuperCorsa from the 80s? Is it a remake of that Columbus Nemo from the 90s? Or is it something completely new? And it seems the public were so curious that they pre-ordered the hell out of it. It actually arrived in the UK earlier this year around Spring time, but demand has exceeded supply in the UK and they've been selling like hotcakes! Demand has slowed down somewhat now and shops are stocking up, so here's our two-penneth.
This particular model comes with an appropriately Italian Campagnolo Potenza 11-speed groupset and brakes. You either love Campag or you don't, and I recommend giving it a try before you buy if you are not used to it, as the shifting is very different to Shimano (and a tad different to SRAM), but also, the ergonomic shapes of the hoods and levers can be a little uncomfortable if your hand doesn't fit the mould. That being said, it's a beautiful piece of kit for what is one of Campag's more affordable groupsets, and the brakes are just about the sharpest calliper brakes I've ever used; only the lightest of touches is needed. Our model on test weighs 8.8kg (19.5lbs) with pedals and bottle cage. The frame weight is circa 1,800g with a 350g carbon monocoque fork. Yes, that seems pretty hefty in modern times of 1,000g benchmark carbon frames, but my guess is that you're not buying this to race pro tours on. Cinelli are offering something a little different from your humdrum carbon race bike here. With TIG-welded steel tubing, made from Columbus Spirit, the frame's most distinctive feature will probably be the seamless welds and the Nemo sleeve with integrated seat clamp, which connects the seat tubes to the rear stays for a better stress distribution on the frame. It also looks pretty sweet too. The 1.5” tapered head tube with the Columbus monocoque FEL fork is said to increase the reactivity of the frame and the handling of the bike, which I think we prove to be correct later in this review, plus the deep curves in the chain stays will offer more strength against pedalling stresses, thus making it rather nifty to accelerate too.
The Tig welding technique enhances the frame's stiffness and helps with pinpointing the perfect geometry, which I really think they got right straight away here. I shouldn't be surprised really, they have extensive heritage building bikes for the elite roadies in the golden era of steel on big tours, and they have been hand making steel frames in Italy for decades. Being in an industry where technology is getting better and better, geometry is forever "improving", and new materials are being discovered, it can make old bikes (including old technology and geometry) seem dated very quickly, but through this you may miss out on something the industry got right first time, and then maybe forgot. The Nemo Tig, for me, is one of those gems. The Nemo Tig has a lively front end, but not in a bad way. It's responsive and direct, even up high on top of the hoods. Yet despite this beautiful steering ability, what's most notable about this bike is that steering seems to come from the whole body; driving through bends with shoulders and hips is really intuitive, and it is actually a rare quality in a bike these days. I found myself really throwing the bike around and seeking out tighter and tighter corners in search for the limit. It is incredibly precise and confident in its movements.
the Nemo Tig may look like a ride for beardy weirdos (no offence fellas!), but it's actually born to race
All-in-all, the Nemo Tig has it's own personality, one that's driven yet playful. It reminds me of my vintage steel road bike of a different brand; bright and attentive with plenty of feedback, and I really like that in a bike. It also reminds me of driving my first car, my 1989 Austin Mini; wild, with a trunk load of character, but damn fast around the corners. And like the Mini, the Nemo Tig may look like a ride for beardy weirdos (no offence fellas!), but it's actually born to race. It's a set-up that would be perfect for curvy closed-road circuits or weaving through pelotons and traffic. The fact that each frame size has subtle changes to the geometry suggests to me that they really have thought about the ride quality and then applied that to each frame, rather than copying and pasting numbers and scaling tubes to fit.
This bike is going to appeal to so many riders out there; from the posers wanting a little something different, to the 'steel is real' crowd, to the guys who love the good old days but want an up to date bike, to the serious racers wanting something they can pin around tight closed-road circuits, and everyone in between. There are great sizing options and five rock 'n' roll colours to choose from; Purple Haze, Silver Bullet, Black Dog, Cherry Bomb (red), and Yellow Moon. I can't stress how much I love the ride of this thing, and it looks the absolute business in the flesh too. For anyone who says "they don't make 'em like they used to", this is your new bike. Cinelli Nemo Tig framesets are available in many Cinelli stores for around £1,599. Expect a fully built Campag Athena (a notch under the tested Potenza groupset) to cost around £2,599 depending on exact build.