Red Lantern Cycles
The first Cinelli Laser I ever saw in person (and revisited, or more accurately, stared at on a daily basis) was suspended in the air behind the front window at Kopp's Cycle in Princeton New Jersey. This would have been 1985, it was a 100km TTT bicycle exactly like what we knew the Italian national team rode to multiple World titles, from the photos and stories in Winning magazine back then. The one at Kopp’s had a really radically down-sloping top tube, angled down to a tiny head tube with the signature Laser aerodynamic fairing between the top, head, and down tubes. The Laser bicycles were all the light Cinelli silver-blue back then, which was always the most beautiful color for the classic Super Corsas as well, but it was somehow more otherworldly-looking as the finish on what seemed like the first, faired, lugless, aerodynamic, frameset, all in steel, the first ever, the first with Columbus Air tubing. The TTT version also had a then-radical Cinelli branded tensioned carbon rear disc wheel, which I am sure is a story in and of itself. Seeing any disc wheel or any carbon weave on any bicycle part in 1985 just wasn't common. I now know that Kopp's had a long history with Cinelli and is actually the oldest bicycle shop in the United States; its owners over the years had been very active in US racing as well early in importing the premier parts and frames from Italy. I have some really great memories of the owner Fred Kuhn and his son and daughter that worked there. Fred’s son Charlie still runs it, says he still uncovers old Cinelli parts in various corners and boxes, like Bivalent hubsets. This is a real bicycle shop.
I just always wanted one of those Lasers, and in particular the road bicycle version. These were the first fully aerodynamic road bicycles, and were fantastic exercises in Italian design. The very first Laser prototypes brought to the bicycle shows in 1982 were the road racing versions, with horizontal top tubes, Cinelli 65 drop bars with ostrich-patterned leather grips, and modified Campagnolo and even Dura Ace AX parts. Roval wheels were used on the first ones, the first integrated aerodynamic wheelset. I wanted to find a Laser and restore it, and about four or five years ago I was lucky enough to find one that was a match. A fellow in Seattle had ridden one for years, hard, and he did not quite know what to do with it. The components needed a lot of work, removing rust and oxide, and the leather needed treatment, but under a layer of Pacific Northwest silt, the original silver-blue paint was in excellent shape. The latest addition just this month has been some really beautiful silver aerodynamic Roval wheels of that year, and the appropriate Vittoria SC green label tubulars.
Matt has even been nice enough to let me display this Cinelli Laser #14 in his window at Red Lantern Cycles (as well as let me sit in the shop and discuss how to splice one of those old Vittorias back to life). I now realize that this completed a 25 year cycle in a way, from when I first saw one at Kopp's until now. While it was on display at Matt's, I stopped by on my way to work in the mornings (somehow I drive past the shop on every commute). Standing at the Red Lantern front window in the morning with a Peet’s coffee, in an early AM empty parking lot, that is a kind of male-breakfast-at-Tiffany's. Now this is a real bicycle shop.