Recently I concluded a review of Cielo Cycles 29″er mountain bike, (which you can see the final post on here) The bike was a very different take on a 29″er, and as such, I found it to be a rather intriguing bicycle. So much so that I referred to it as the “Gentleman’s 29″er”. One thing I discovered through testing caused me some dismay though, and that had to do with tire clearances.

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Update Intentions: With most bikes, we look to the supplier/builder/brand for some design intentions and back round. In this instance, we found out later that the Cielo 29″er did, in fact, have a very specific design intent which wasn’t completely communicated until the review process had concluded. This was unfortunate. In light of the new information, I wanted to post this update to the review to reflect what we found out. I also want to point out that in no way has Cielo requested this post, and that they took full responsibility for the lack of timely information to me. In fact, I have been informed that through the process, the web site will reflect a better description of where Cielo is coming from in regards to this design. I feel that due to the snafu in communications, the Cielo deserves this update.

So, What Is The Deal?: Cielo had a specific idea in mind when they produced the Cielo mountain bike. The mountain bike grew out of the philosophy used on Cielo’s “Sportif” model. This road bike was designed with a truly classic look, but with some modern touches. This was transferred over to the mountain bike model. The same aesthetic and performance philosophies are present, and were picked up on in our review of the bike. What wasn’t picked up on was which specific “older ideas” were still being employed that would affect “modern day” thinking on such a rig.

cielo2010 023 One of those design ideas was that older mountain bikes were often built by frame builders who were already doing road bikes, and obviously, their mountain bikes were heavily influenced by their road bike designs. The Cielo Mountain Bike was designed with the idea of “what if” Cielo had taken the older mountain bike ideal and fast forwarded that into 2010. Obviously, component choices would influence the design, and many of Chris King’s components would be used. Suspension had to be part of the mix, and 29″er wheels were also given the green light to be part of the design. However; the rest of the bike was going to have a lineage back to the beginnings of Cielo, and following here is an image of Chris King’s personal mountain bike he built for himself in 1978. You can see several basic similarities to the Cielo 29″er here.


One of those design cues was to use seat stays without “S” bends for clearance. Another was to use a straighter chain stay, like a road bike might have. These choices limited, to some degree, what could be done to accommodate a wider tire than a 2.2 inch tire, but this was deemed within the design philosophy, since early mountain bikes rarely had bigger tires than this. Jay SyCip, Product Manager for Cielo, mentioned to me that they would be taking a look at the Cielo mountain bike to see if something might be done to accommodate a slightly larger tire, but also without veering from the design intent too wildly. That said, it is my opinion that if buyers know up front where the bike is coming from in terms of design philosophy, this tweaking may not be necessary. In fact, knowing what I know now, I would find the fact that bigger tires are not intended for this rig to be a bold move. I may not agree with it, and riders may not agree with it, but then again, it makes for an interesting bicycle that makes a statement quite unlike any other 29″er, or for that matter, most any new mountain bike, regardless of wheel size, available in 2010.

Updated Conclusions: Based upon the revelations after the fact, I would now say that the Cielo seems to be veering into the camp of Rivendell with the retro-classic design and ideals employed in Cielo’s 29″er. Is it a “bad” thing? No- It isn’t. It is perhaps odd, and certainly flies in the face of what a lot of riders think they need in a 29″er: Bigger, wider, faster, and longer. The Cielo is none of these things. It handles well with the narrower tires, and despite the fact that the tire clearance is limited, it really stands out in a crowded market place of “me-too” 29″er hard tail bikes.

In the end, the rider has to decide whether this design philosophy fits their ideal of what a mountain bike can be. Certainly, the price of entry is steep for such a bicycle with the quirks that it has. As I look at the performance of the bike, it doesn’t really lack there, and it can be geared or set up as a single speed. It has clean lines, a fine pedigree, and is impeccably made. I just find the limited tire clearance a bit, well………..limiting as to appeal for a wider audience is concerned. Beyond this, if you can accept that it is what it is, the Cielo will make a very fine riding companion. If you can’t, then this bike will have no appeal to you. It is definitely a polarizing design, but definitely a valid one.

I would like to thank Chris DeStephano, Jay SyCip, and Chris King, along with the rest of the Cielo crew for helping me to understand this bike more fully.