A market crammed with sculpted carbon creations means the subtle beauty of a top-quality handbuilt steel frame like the Cielo Cross is easily overlooked. It shouldn't be. The comfortable ride, on and off road, of this classy slimline offering from Chris King's US frame artisans is enough to persuade many riders that carrying the inevitable weight penalty of a steel frame is a price well worth paying.
Like King's headsets, Cielo frames are built to last. True Temper OS Platinum tubes have a good reputation for durability, and that matters on a frame designed for high speed riding on and off road. Sizes range from 49 to 61cm, and the geometry varies slightly between sizes. Our 55cm frame has a 72.5-degree head angle, 73 seat and 56.5cm top tube reach.
Combined with a 45mm fork rake and the shock-stifling characteristics of quality steel tubes, this produces a comfortable and relaxed feel that has as much in common with a fast touring bike as the best cyclo-cross bikes. If you're used to aluminium or carbon you'll find this plush in comparison, but it still has that speed kick spark.
If you think £1,489 is a lot of cash to shed on a steel frame and fork, have a look at some of the finishing detail. Background knowledge on Chris King's reputation for meticulous metalcraft will help, but the basic build quality is outstanding. The TiG welding is immaculate. The head tube has stainless reinforcing collars at both ends, with the collar design mimicked on the seat clamp.
The seatstay top caps are in stainless too, with the engraved Cielo name finished in blue to match the frame's tough powder coat. Horizontal dropouts (also in stainless) let you move the wheel back and forth to fit big tyres, or adjust the wheelbase or chain tension around a single sprocket or hub gear. Mudguard eyelets are fitted, there are two sets of bottle bosses and tyre room is still generous around 38mm 'cross tyres. Parts wise, it's totally up to you. our test bike spec would cost you about £3,000.
This article was originally published in Cycling Plus magazine.