Going to dinner at Oldani’s and eating a salad is like going to the Eroica and not pedaling … Here, I suffered this torture (the Eroica, not Oldani) for two years in a row. Then, finally, when I least expected it, here is the good opportunity. In the year in which Covid causes almost all sporting events to be skipped, the custodians of the most successful format in cycling managed to hold their most democratic event on its feet.
At the Nova Eroica with the Cinelli Zydeco Electric Mud
With an extraordinary effort, in fact, they managed to make Nova Eroica, the version of Eroica open to all types of bikes (old, modern, racing, Gravel …), take place. Departure moved just outside Buonconvento, no village in the parterre, staggered departures, opportunities for gathering reduced to a minimum, compulsory masks until the start. Such a sign of confidence and courage could not be ignored and so I decided not only to ride on the white roads of Tuscany, but to be part of a unique edition, which will certainly go down in the history of Eroica.
And I did it in a way that was a little over the top. As a sherpa, with a backpack crammed with photographic equipment on his shoulders and riding a pedal-assisted bicycle. It was the price to pay to Martina, my partner in adventure, a photographer, who would have snorted on a normal bike instead. I thought the organizers would turn up their noses, but they enthusiastically accepted my motorized presence. Linked to the s traditions, but with an eye to the future and always straight antennas, to capture trends and desires. It is a fact that even in those parts there are more and more assisted cyclists.
The occasion would have been perfect to try the brand new Cinelli Zydeco Electric Mud, so new that mine was even a pre-series. An honor and also a burden, because impressions and comments in these pre-production stages may still carry weight. Thirty years have passed since Cinelli presented the Passatore, which we can consider a bit the mother of all Gravels. Today, by launching the Zydeco Electric Mud, Cinelli comes out of that pioneering role that belongs so much to it, but enters a market that is already populated, albeit still immature. It does so with a high-level product, with a carbon fiber frame and motor housed in the rear hub, a solution that has the least aesthetic impact. This is the Mahle Ebikemotion X35 power unit, with a 250 Wh battery integrated in the down tube (not removable) and a 250 W motor and 40 Nm of torque.
In addition, the version prepared for the Nova Eroica, was equipped with a 210 Wh range extender (auxiliary battery) housed in the bottle cage of the seat tube. The idea was in fact that of covering the 85 km itinerary with about 1,900 m of elevation gain and therefore it seemed wise to prevent rather than cure … The trend that is guiding the world of gravel assisted pedaling is to create bikes that favor weight to the performance of the drive unit. So here are vehicles that remain around 13 kg and 250 Wh batteries combined with engines less thirsty for electricity and therefore with torque levels around 40 Nm.
To understand, these are values that are 50% lower to those relating to the most modern systems that equip the latest generation e-MTBs. As far as I’m concerned, I find it the ideal choice, especially if those who use these Gravels prefer more smooth than rough terrain, filled with even steep climbs rather than nervous tears. The perfect photograph of the routes on which the Nova Eroica winds its way. The reason soon said. When the engine cuts out, ie above 25 km / h, you can keep higher speeds without spitting blood, and the driving sensations are more similar to those of a traditional bike. In particular, the solution with a motor in the rear hub, very common among e-Gravels and e-Roads, opposes the advantage of not weighing down the line of the bike with greater inconvenience in case of disassembly of the wheel.
The Cinelli Zydeco Electric Mud weighs 13,230 kg (in size M), which becomes 14,830 kg with the range extender. A weight that I found acceptable to the point of covering much of the route, including a couple of long climbs on asphalt, without resorting to assistance. Downhill driveability also benefits from this and trajectories can be set with good precision, despite the greater weight placed on the rear wheel. Part of this result can be attributed to the geometry of the Cinelli, a good compromise between comfort and aggressiveness, but also to the 35 mm Vittoria Terra Dry tires, very smooth and light.
Speaking of tires, the Zydeco Electric Mud can also be fitted with 650B wheels, the so-called 27.5 ”, and tires up to 48 mm to satisfy more off-road itches. When I instead decided to make use of technological help, I almost always used the Eco mode, which is enough to cancel the handicap represented by the extra weight of the bike and backpack. Instead, I asked the other two (Intermediate and Max) to entertain me by drifting with power and eating the hairpin bends at twenty an hour, telling a snorting Martina to move.
A power however well delivered, without being too invasive and without distorting the pedaling sensation. Transmission and brakes were up to par. These are the tested Shimano GRX, developed ad-hoc for Gravel and use. The spacing of the 11-speed cassette, combined with a single chainring, is ideal for tackling routes such as those of the Nova Eroica, but also for experiencing the thrill of traveling. And precisely for those who experience Gravel as an adventure and discovery (the so-called bike-packers), the numerous attachments on the frame and on the fork sliders are dedicated, which allow you to mount drybags, luggage racks and other bottle holders.
After seven hours, with eyes full of the views that only these lands can offer and with the memory of the Nikons full of me, we are back. The battery charge of the Electric Mud was still well beyond half and even the legs were fine to the point that, after the arrival banner, a thought sparked my imagination: with the long hours of light of two months ago we could have dare even the longest route, the 120 km one. Or maybe not … Martina would probably have stuffed a few bricks in my backpack too.
The Cinelli Zideco Electric Mud card
Price: 4,990 euros
Frame: Columbus Carbon Monocoque
Motor: Mahle Ebikemotion X35 (250 W, 40 Nm)
Battery: 250 Wh + 210 Wh range extender
Transmission: Shimano GRX (11 speed, 40 / 11-42)
Brakes: hydraulic disc, 160 mm rotors
Sizes: S, M, L, XL
December 7, 2020 (change December 7, 2020 | 13:41)
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