When it comes to pairing new components with the ideal frameset for building up a new bike, today’s many choices and combinations are overwhelming. For the sake of this Euro issue build, we teamed up with Brixia to release the new Shimano Ultegra 12-speed launch. Brixia is the ancient Roman name of its founding city, Brescia, Italy, and the brand was born when a group of former employees from the famous Italian brand Carrera decided to band together in 2018 to start something new. With years of experience and a drive to deliver a greater level of modern innovation, Brixia relied on their years of experience and hit the ground running with their latest offering, the Cidneo.
The Cidneo frame is more than just another carbon aero road bike with internal cables and hoses. To start, Brixia is utilizing Dyneema fibers, one of the strongest man-made fiber in the world. Dyneema is added to the high-stress areas of the frame to increase strength and durability while remaining weight-efficient.
Brixia also uses a monolith molding method of molding a frame in one session, a true monocoque. Since the entire frame is molded as one piece, the carbon sheets are laid without interruption and can be more finely tuned. This means areas that typically are bonded can now be optimized for stiffness, ride characteristics and without added weight.
We opted for a size 51cm, which is smaller than the 54 to 56cm frames we normally ride, but the 38.5cm reach and 55.5cm stack have been perfect for our 5-foot-9 to 6-foot riders. The 15.5cm head tube is at 73 degrees for a very lively feel. The overall wheelbase is 98.5cm with 41cm chainstays. There is room for up to a claimed 28mm tire with room to spare.
Brixia offers a few “stock” builds, but the Cidneo is best built à la carte. For us, the build was left up to the Shimano team to launch the new semi-wireless Ultegra R8100 DI2 12-speed. This project bike has been more of a project in patience as the drivetrain components, like everything else lately, were delayed several times.
For the new 12-speed offerings, Shimano remains steady on their traditional gear sizing, so we opted for a 50/34 crank paired with the 11-34t cassette. There is only one length for the rear derailleur with the new drivetrain, minimizing the chances of incompatibility. One of the more frequent topics in the office is what the proper brake rotor size is, and the Cidneo was spec’d with a 160mm rotor up front and a 140mm in the rear. The new drivetrains and braking systems provided the best balance of performance and reliability using rotors previously designed for the mountain bikes.
Up front, the KRU one-piece carbon bars utilize the FSA ARC system that routes the brake hoses internally from the lever all the way to the caliper. PRO mounted their Stealth Sport saddle with chromoly rails to the proprietary KRU seatpost. To finish up the build is a set of the new Shimano C36 Ultegra carbon wheels. They have an internal width of 21mm, a hooked bead and are tubeless-ready. Overall, the build is aero efficient but optimized for the steep climbing we enjoy here in SoCal.
With Brixia being such a new brand, we were excited to see what they had to deliver. Knowing the background and experience behind the brand gave us confidence that our project bike would be one to fight over for the first ride.
As expected, the Cidneo has completely hidden hoses and an aero inspiration. We were most impressed with its climbing pedigree. The bike is agile and highly responsive to rider input. Out of the saddle, it feels light, and the 50/34 crank matched to the 11-34t cassette meant we had plenty of range.
When we pointed the Cidneo downhill, it provided just as fun a ride as when it was pedaled uphill. Cornering prowess was predictable but still responsive, making technical descents a thing of joy. As always, the Shimano Ultegra shifts and feels like Dura-Ace just at a better price point. The user experience from 11-speed to 12-speed is almost identical with improved modulation when breaking.
We were most impressed with the in-saddle compliance the Cidneo offers. While every company has its theory of what fast should feel like, Brixia has compliance and performance nearly perfectly balanced. We can’t say for sure, but the use of Dyneema in critical areas has allowed them to maintain strength without sacrificing ride quality.
Project bikes are always fun to build, and this was an excellent opportunity to highlight a brand that, while new to the game, obviously has plenty of experience. The Shimano Ultegra R8100 is, as we would expect, fantastic, with the perfect balance of performance, weight and value. We think the Ultegra drivetrain meets top-tier expectations while delivering new semi-wireless benefits and convenience for the masses.
The Cidneo was hard to pry away from whoever was riding it and, if left unattended at the office, was quick to disappear. Our biggest regret was letting Brixia choose the paint scheme, especially since they offer some of the most extensive custom paint offerings we have seen, and all at no extra charge. All their bikes are painted in Italy, and if you want something special, you just need to wait the additional three to four weeks. While our test bike looks impressive in the right light and (for some) the black-on-black theme is still trending (not sure why), we would have loved to see a bit more color to highlight the quality and capability of their custom offering truly.
Ride quality and geometry were spot-on for those looking for a performance road bike. Make sure you check the geometry chart before you order, because we almost ordered a 54 (like we always do), which would have resulted in a fit that was much larger than a 54 you’d get from many other builders. Keep an eye out for Brixia; they are not just another Italian bike brand.
• Our new aero climbing bike
• Dyneema/carbon mix
• Get a custom color
Price: $3495 frameset
Weight: 17.31 pounds
Sizes: 44, 47, 51 (tested), 54, 57cm