Okay, the headline’s clickbait. “Mario gets dirty” conjures up images other than the Italian’s new bike. This is for two reasons. Mario Cipollini has a reputation, and it’s not for riding gravel. His namesake brand’s latest bike, the MCM All Road, is aiming for the brass ring of drop-bar bikes. A bike that is “racey” and lively on the road, but with the tire clearance and capability for real gravel riding. It’s a hot category right now, as the designation “all road” makes obvious. There are other bikes, wheels and apparel already named “all road.” While who actually owns that trademark is unclear, what is clear is that very few of those products get close to that brass ring. Can the famous Italian bunch sprinter and Lothario create a relevant gravel bike?
• Unlike Cipollini’s usual single monocoque construction the MCM All Road is tube to tube construction.
• The bike has incredibly racey geometry, making it a performance gravel bike and very capable on the road.
• Despite the racey angles the MCM All Road fits a 40mm tire, making it a ‘real’ gravel bike.
• The extravagant use of ultra high modulus T1000 carbon makes this bike all Cipollini.
Anytime we see one of these bikes claiming road-and-gravel chops we look straight to tire clearance. Most max out at 38mm or less, which can indeed handle a lot of gravel but will get overmatched in truly soupy stone. To us, a “real” gravel bike needs to accept a 40mm tire, and this Cipollini, this bike named for a rider who likely won every race on 23mm tires, can fit a 40mm tire. That’s a big check mark.
The original Cipollini bikes were made famous not just for their Italian manufacturing but because they were true monocoques, a single mold, head tube to rear drop out. That is an extravagant way to make a bike, which in turn gave Cipollini bikes a sublime ride and an astronomical price tag. This new bike, the MCM All Road, is not a monocoque; it uses tube-to-tube construction, a process favored by smaller manufacturers like Alchemy or DeAnima. Tubes are made, then tacked up with epoxy, before being overwrapped with carbon. It’s not inherently inferior to a monocoque, but it does typically result in a slightly heavier frame than a monocoque equivalent. A medium MCM All Road frame weighs 1,180 grams, 230 grams more than an RB1K.
But don’t worry, this Cipo is extravagant in its material—T1000 carbon, the same carbon used in the RB1K. We like the description we found from an aerospace engineer named Onur Miskbay: “T1000 is a niche product mainly used for aerospace applications. The high stiffness improves dimensional stability, which is particularly important in space applications where even a minute deviation from calculated route can have dramatic effects.” We’d say a “minute deviation from calculated route” can have a dramatic effect during a gravel ride too! As important as that “dimensional” stability is to a bike’s power transfer and handling, we need a bit of well-balanced vertical damping for handling up front, rider comfort and keeping the rear wheel in contact with the ground, no matter what the surface. Kevlar inserts in the fork and dramatically flattened seatstays help provide that balanced damping and durability.
The MCM All Road’s geometry gets us excited. The chainstays are just 417mm; that’s very tight for a bike with 700c wheels, without a fancy dropped chainstay and with 40mm clearance. Compared to Cipo’s other road bikes, the bottom bracket has been dropped a few millimeters, the head angle just barely relaxed and the front center shortened a touch for a heartbeat less reach. These are aggressive numbers for a gravel bike.
Our test bike was built with SRAM Red eTap and came with 67mm-deep Ursus Miura wheels weighing 1,670 grams, but the bike would be better served with some shallower Miura TC37s at just 1,520 grams. As built, the size large weighed 18.2 pounds. This RED eTap build is approximately $11,500 and a frameset is $4,490.
Just as we’ve learned with every Cipo bike, the MCM All Road is flashy and expensive but, damn, it’s a good bike. Don’t write them off as expensive status symbols. Mario knows what makes a bike ride well and the engineers know how to build it. We have not ridden another bike that feels so fast and lively, so agile and efficient on the road, that can then turn down a dirt path and feel equally at home, providing the confidence and capability to truly attack any gravel race. The longer rear end, lower bottom bracket and slightly slackened angles provide the planted feeling so critical over loose surfaces, but everything is short enough and steep enough to still feel race-ready and aggressive. Somehow, Cipollini did this with clearance for 40mm tires. Amazing.
The bike’s rear end is very effective at smoothing the ride and keeping the rear wheel down. The custom seat tube is not a full aero shape, and with some good extension provides significant rearward damping. It also does not slip—a headache you won’t need to worry about with the MCM All Road. To be fair, this is a gravel race bike. Don’t expect to load it up with panniers and fenders; there are no mounts for those. Don’t expect a laid-back, plush ride like a Domane or Diverge. Compared to those, it is aggressive and stiff and won’t enjoy rocky, steep single track. But what else would we expect from Mario? The MCM All Road is an absolutely gorgeous gravel race bike from the heart of Italy. It’s also the most successful bike we’ve yet ridden at straddling the road/gravel divide.
18.2 lbs/8.2kg (as built);size LG w/o pedals or cages
Build: SRAM Red eTap, Ursus Miura TC67 wheels with Schwalbe G-One Speed 38mm tires,
Deda Superleggera bar & stem, Pro Logo saddle