"A bicycle built by a frame builder has the soul of the builder. A mass produced frame does not have soul. It doesn’t know anyone."
A quote by Giovanni Pelizzoll. Grandson of Ciocc founder.
Whether this comment means anything or not is up to you. It is something that I read two weeks into a bike test that I was having trouble trying to pigeonhole.
Ciocc is an Italian brand with 60 years experience in producing bikes with the ‘artisan’ feel. I have heard lots about bikes that just work with the rider. Sometimes there is a natural connection, a willingness of both bike and rider to follow the same path. Maybe this is what I was feeling during those early rides.
TheExtro is from the riding end of theCiocc scale. They split their range into two groups, ‘racing’ and ‘riding’, with a high degree of overlap between the models. Bikes such as the Devilry (Bicycling Australia NovDec 2010) are aimed at the racer, having slightly faster angles and a more rigid feel. Getting off my own bike a Grand Tour proven,race frame to test a ‘riding’ bike might, I thought,just produce some interesting results.
Before taking delivery of the bike, Ciocc Australia had asked for all of my frame measurements. The normal toptube length was not enough for these guys, they wanted more. Checking their build when I got the bike there was nothing to change, they had set the bike up perfectly to suit the rider. The stem was 10mm higher than my personal ride but this was an endurance bike after all.
Looking at a bike before the first test ride you get a feeling about it. Will it be stiff enough to climb with the bunch? Is an external bottom bracket old technology? No tapered steerer? Will it corner well or will it wander off line?The first ride is generally shorter, around 10km and taken as getting to know the new bike. Tools are always taken for small adjustments to the bar, stem or gears. Sometimes you forget about the rules and just ride off up the coast, early in the morning and enjoy the ride. Ten in the morning sees you returning home with a smile on your face and not really having a fixed opinion about the bike. Finding out that it just works beneath you is a great feeling. Is there something in that Italian geometry? They must know something after 60 years…
Hundreds of kilometres later, neither the seat height nor the stem height was touched at all.This bike had been put together with love and soul, not a time schedule.In true Italian sprit, the 1,100g Ciocc frame had been built up with Campagnolo Carbon Athena 11 speed. The groupsetworked from the start of the test with nothingneeded to keep it humming except chain lube which is wonderful for a ‘budget’ groupset. At just over 2,200g the groupset helped to keep the complete bike at a nice weight of 7.5kg. Not bad considering the 38mm carbon aero Ursuswheelset and heavy tyres. The shape of the Campy Athena hoods is well known to beconfidence inspiring, allowing the rider to spend more time on the hoods, even whilst descending, without the fear of slipping or not being in control. The braking power and control from the hoods was a revelation for me as was the performance of the entire Athena Gruppo.
Even after several long wet rides and a Saturday spent on some of Sydney’s worst roads including kilometre after kilometre of dirt, the Ciocc refused to make a soundor miss a gear.It needed only a wash to bring it back to life.After descending a 10km mountain pass in the wet, with a smile on my face, it was evident this bike had very few vices. It had not put a foot wrong, hairpin after hairpin. Even a set of tyres that Iusually cannot wait to remove from any test bike stayed for most of the test, including the 10km wet decent.
A combination of a stiff bottom bracket and a compliant set of curved seat stays with just the right set of angles had produced a frame that not only soaked up all the rough roads I could throw at it, but could also made average tyres feel good. Saying that, by swapping to a lighter tyre and tube combination, the road feel was improved and over 220g was saved from the rolling weight of the bike. A worthy thought when ordering your new Ciocc.
Descending at speed in the dry did produce a slightly vague feeling through the front end of the bike and a slight tendency to end up slightly off the projected line through tightening apexes. This feeling disappeared when the decent was second-rate potholed tar where the Extro soaked up the bumps and smoothed out the sharp edges. Out-of-the-saddle sprints also produced a slight washy feeling through thebars that was only marginally better when the front wheel was swapped to a known replacement. It wasn’t a concern, just a feeling that perhaps a little power was being lost. In producing comfort and stability, the Ciocc had given away a little to its racy brothers in this area. This was all forgiven as soon as the road surface fell apart again.
The 38mm Ursuswheelset fitted to the Extro sets off the Italian flair yet detracts from the performance of the package as well. The first week of the test went by without an issue. After that somebrake shudder started to become evident. As the weeks went on, the shudder was getting worse and a trip to the local bike shop to check the trueness of the wheels resulted in a slight improvement, yet not enough to reduce the shudder. It was put down to both front and rear brake walls being slightly non-parallel.I have seenthis at times on several better known brands as well and could just be a one off with this particular wheelset.This was a shame as the wheels are reasonably light for an aero wheel and comfortable too.
The Deda Bar, stem and post suited the bike perfectly and never put a foot wrong through the entire test. Their style matched the euro look and their comfort fitted in well with the endurance theme. The alloy bar and stem should give years of service and the DedaSuperZero Carbon post is a nice lightweight addition.
After weeks of service as my daily ride, the Ciocc became part of the family. I had to actually force myself to ride my personal bike as a comparison. At $5,399, the Ciocc is in the price range of bikes both faster, lighter and possibly electronic, yet, finding something as forgiving, planted and easy to live with might be a tough ask. This is one bike I didn’t want to give back.
A well finished and detailed frame. The paint finish and depth looks great. The groupset and finishing kit was worthy of the Italian heritage and it was all put together with genuine attention to detail. All cable lengths were neatly measured and fitted correctly.
This bike is very well suited to long hours in the saddle. Comfortable, reliable and smooth, the Extro could easily be raced one weekend and tick over the kilometres the next. Being fitted with a 39/53 crankset, a larger range than the supplied 12-25 cassette may help the endurance riders as the hours drag on.
Putting a price on Italian heritage is dangerous. As stated, $5,399 could get you onto some nice machinery yet comfort, being at one with the bike and standing out from the crowd has its price.