Friday, April 6, 2018

il Drali, Marnati and Fantini. Classic Italian Cycling Videos for your Friday Enjoyment

Masters of the trade. An artisan industry that today's market can't comprehend. True innovators of a process that may get lost in today's hyper technical world. Personalities. Legends.



This is the music we should all listen to in our shops! OK, either this, Vasco or RPI (Italian Prog)







il Drali's new partners reached out to me recently to discuss the US market and get my advice. Life is odd. Were I to stop in to il Drali's shop, I would sit and ask him about his father's work with Stucchi and listen for hours. I just put down another bullet point on my next l'Eroica trip planner!



Saturday, March 17, 2018

Pelizzoli, Ciöcc, Gion Italia and John the Star U.S.A.

I posted a reply in a Ciöcc thread over at Bike Forums and thought it should be on here as well. I typically go in the opposite direction but the content from a long phone call was too good to pass up. Here is the post in all it's glory...

Yes, that's my old video of Giovanni finally pronouncing and translating his nickname. I just got off the phone with him and after a LONG conversation, have a few more things I can offer... I hope ANY of it is useful or at the very least, interesting!

Gio was born in 1942 and at 25 built his first Ciöcc in 1967.

Here's an interesting one... my friend Claudio wasn't the first Corti to win aboard a Ciöcc. His brother Mario won the Vuelta de la Juventud Mexicana in 1971 for C.S. Fiat as a dilettante. Check out this image...


The Corti's, like Giovanni, were born in Curno. The first Ciöcc frames had just a "C" decoration, taken not from the nickname, but from the town Curno, which then merged with two other locales to form Curdomo, a model name used today under the brand Pelizzoli. Evidently, as Italian towns expanded there was plenty of name shuffling - reminds me of the direction Iowa schools systems are going!

Branding: The "C" with tail was inspired when Giovanni saw a Cimatti model with a similar tail. His new logo was met with consternation by the moto brand but was easily explained away in that his tail was curved while theirs was straight. When asked the exact timing of this, his only recollection is "Certainly after Claudio's win". Take that with a grain of salt though. I have seen mixed frames where the seat stay cap has no tail while the original decals do. Italian inventory planning of small raw materials was never precise!



Iper: Yes, literal translation is Hyper, supposedly "better" than Super. BUT - this name was applied to bikes sold in a local Curno/Bergamo bike shop owned by a close friend of Giovanni's! If you see this on a bike... I suggest buying it, as it represents a very narrow production range for a local marketer, hence rare and likely of top production - reputation locally was everything!



He names his Golden period of Ciöcc as 77-81 or 82... top of his head, he can't remember exactly when it was sold! He still retains the rights to the brands Gion Italia (Italian spelling of John) and John the Star U.S.A. I've been in his shop a number of times and have literally spent weekends there fishing around his piles of old junk frames - I've never seen evidence of a John the Star frame. It also deserves a good story, and there is one...

He got a phone call from a company in Milan threatening to file a suit against his use of U.S.A. Not sure the legal validity of such a case - we're talking Italy here. Giovanni replies with a question... 'well, what do you think U.S.A. means?!?' and the reply is obvious, followed by 'well, what do YOU think it means?' to which Giovanni replies his unassailable use of "Unione Saldatori Artigiani". The agent goes silent and the Union of Artisan Framebuilders never hears another word about the case.



The crew...

Hope this was interesting!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Paletti - Not Everyone Can Own One, Not Everyone Should

My earlier post about the frameteller site was an easy entry to post two recent eBay items and some innovations from Paletti. Always a sucker for Columbus MS and Max frames, these are three great examples from this builder, as well as a couple of examples of Mario Martini - painted frames.





Luckily for me, of the three, only the MS frame is my size. I have a feeling that at some point I'll end up with a Paletti and that one is a great example. MS, Martini paint (possibly), 56 - the check boxes are there, but it'll have to wait. $2700 is a bit out there right now!





With an orphaned Record OR group, this MAX OR would be a great fit... if only it fit me! Definitely Martini paint here. I have a strong feeling that lugged MAX OR is not a weight weenie bike, not even in the early 90's! At $1000, it's a great price, but not a great size!


The Paletti front derailleur direct-mount.


Internally routed down tube shifters!!!


Much like Somec, Paletti seems to have adopted the cavallo Baracca / Ferrari at least on this model!


Anyone else remember this ad BITD?

Frameteller - My New Favorite Website

The Milanese and Venetian schools of classic builders are fairly well known. You have Gloria, who begat Galmozzi and Masi and Colnago who begat Rossin and on and on. Venetian brands are fairly well known as well, even if their lineage is a bit murkier. A visit to Turin and my eyes were opened to that incredibly talented school, which is known locally but not as well worldwide, what with folks like Ernesto and Ugo hogging the limelight still to this day.

After my visit to Emilia Romagna's Somec, a favorite brand from my teenage years, my eyes were opened to yet another innovative classic Italian school of builders. I recently found frameteller.it, where regional pride has led to an incredible archive of this region's highly innovative and influential builders. Here, Manuel Dall’Olio has curated stories, innovations, publications and more, all with a narrow focus on the output from Emilia Romagna.


Known to serious collectors, but still fairly hidden from the "easy" collectors, names like Marastoni, Somec and Rauler rise to the top fairly quickly; however, the important contributions of Vicini and Dosi (two builders of Marco Pantani's early bikes) lead down the rabbit hole until you find a Paletti, an Ortelli and all of a sudden you're reading a long complete history of Neri e Renzo and then you find your saved eBay searches has doubled!

It is thanks to this site that I now know the creator of the greatest 90's paint jobs... Mario Martini. The amazing stars, neon argyles and fades created by Martini graced the bikes from this region and I now know the story behind it thanks to frameteller.

The list of innovations and patents to come from this region is in itself worth a visit. Too long to list here, but incredibly important are such items as internal cables, brazed on bottle mounts, shaped steel tubing, and even rollers for training!

One common thread from E-R to Milan to Turin to the Veneto is that the artisan construct remains: local "houses" doing business to finish a hand made work of art, with little regard to systemization beyond the idea that you've worked with this chroming house or frame painter for years. It's something worthy of many business theses and a way of doing business that still exists in il bel paese. But this is also lost to many new world collectors who can't wrap their heads around the idea that the hard rules of production are thrown out the window when working in this manner. Yes, this builder used this certain lugset for this period - until he ran out, lost interest, found something new or whatever... but then eight years later found the last box of them and used them again. These are the mysteries that are best appreciated by accepting and understanding the artisan environment.

A tip of the hat to Manuel, who has researched and listed 340 historic brands to emerge from this region since the 1920's. His completeness and dedication to the project sets the standard for the archiving of and lifting the covers off of a very narrow but important focus.

To translate the site into english, you can start at the Patelli link here and navigate around. Note that some of the flash pages won't translate in this manner, but most articles will. Also, be sure to enjoy the awesome photos and publication archive.


Monday, November 13, 2017

Pierfranco Vianelli

Time to finish up an old post, now that a sale is pending and I need the images posted!

With the entire house sick and sleeping off illness I found time to retire to the shop to dress up my latest Italian build, an 80's Vianelli that remained in Basel after we moved (not sure why) and with the help of a few friends, found its way back to me last year.

After l'Eroica I stayed with close friends who live close to Vianelli's shop on the west edge of Brescia. I took the frame to its 'home' and to meet Pierfranco, who won the 1968 Olympic gold medal in the road race in Mexico City.

He was very gracious and left me with two interesting facts. One; when asked which model my frame is and which decal set on the sheet to place and where, he replied that there was no real rhyme or reason for the models or decal placements. The ones I've found online seem to show a little randomness but those with Olympic rings on the forks or in the legwork seem to be declared with "Mexico" so I'm going with that. Two; he has about 300 raw old steel frames in the basement just waiting to be finished and sold, but no real interest in doing so!

With a new fat bike project in the works, my Vianelli is now headed to that great auction site in the sky - I mean eBay. I built it and rode it a few times. It's very nice and typical of a workmanlike Italian 80's bike. Not fancy or with a lot of frills, but will get the job done. My example, in fact, can trace back to a dilettante who raced the 1981 Coppa d'Oro.
















Friday, October 27, 2017

1986 Colnago Factory Tour (and bonus Modolo)

The VCR has been fired up and the eyetv has been running for the past week in an attempt to get rid of some old tapes (making room for more bikes, I guess). I found this gem this evening that some of us collectors will appreciate. Aired during 1986 Giro d'Italia coverage, GGP took a look inside the factory/shop in Cambiago, Italy.


While posting this, the "next up" video is quite awesome as well, with a look at an old Milan trade show and a trip to the Modolo offices! Bonus...

Monday, October 16, 2017

Tommasini Marble (Marmo) Paint Dating

Time for a little Tommasini timeline update. This should help in dating certain frames and I hope it's useful to someone out there. With few catalogues out there from this long-time builder, articles like these should be preserved or translated for collectors. This from the August 1987 issue of La Bicicletta, page 89.


The Tommasini Paint

It's difficult to know if the many types of paint jobs on our frames are born from the demands of the market or from the intense fantasy of someone, conditioning users and builders in a kind of infighting in the search and making of beautiful things, but also of incredibly bizarre things. The question, naturally, remains open.

The latest novelty is offered by Irio Tommasini, a builder that has always treated his paint jobs with elegance and class. Tommasini calls his latest creation "marbleized", the result of a peculiar procedure that leaves the characteristic of veined marble of an impressive effect. The resulting color is more alive and glossy, but also more graceful, as if it were being seen through a lens or in transparent.

The Tommasini "marbled" frames were debuted at the New York trade show. The favorable reaction convinced the Tuscan builder to insist on this type of finish to which we interrupted by asking about the technical details. How many times does it get treated in the oven? Is the transparency obtained with a final layer of clear coat? But Tommasini remained entrenched behind his "top secret"... which is not uncommon even in the cycling world.


--- So there we have it. Tommasini marbled frames made their debut in 1987.










SaveSave

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Another Magniflex Blue Diamante Got Away

Another dream frame just got away. With a Pelà-made Wolhauser in the stand and a bunch of other projects littering the garage, and with a bone-dry PayPal account, this 56 cm Diamante in Magniflex Blue ended up going cheap. Originally posted at $1000 (already not a terrible price on this rarity), I got an update saying the seller had dropped to $750! In the time it took me to email him about payment, it was gone.

Seems that these are coming online more and more. Maybe not as rare as I'm thinking. This was just too good of a deal to pass on, but alas, it wasn't meant to be!

edit: upon further review, this appears to be the frame from the complete bike I posted earlier! My eBay experience is that it's far easier to find a buyer of a $1000 rare frameset than it is to find someone at $2500 for the complete bike.

yet another edit: bike forums actually confirmed it's the same bike AND that it is/was actually a 57! Now I don't feel so bad!





SaveSave

Monday, October 2, 2017

Ti Updates for the Tommasini Fire

Some eBay shopping has led me to a couple of Chinese vendors with cheap shipping of some lovely Ti bolts (remember the days of updating to expensive ti bolts?). The company is called Risk (of course) and their rainbow anodized ti bolts now adorn Linda.

It's down to 20.5 lbs with the goal of hitting 20 even with a new carbon seatpost and Prologo saddle (a nice winter project).

Here are a few photos...

Ti quick releases saved 40 grams off of a set of already light ones.

The stem got full treatment... 6 bolts of ti goodness!

Center lock rotor means 4 bottle cage bolts. Heavily modified front der mount as well.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Time for a Gravel Bike!

Since moving back to Iowa - you know, the state with more gravel roads than any other - I discovered the need for a proper gravel bike. The past seven months have seen me tackling gravel and B roads aboard a variety of bikes like a new Colnago C60, an 80's Tommasini SL, 70's Ciocc SL and even a 1926 Maino Model G! Something had to be better than a 28mm Clement tire pushing through the dirt of a B road. Side note - I've known Irio Tommasini for 25 years now. He made my first real Italian road bike... one I still own and have more miles on this year than any other ride.

All my bikes have a story. In what may be the longest-ever blog post, this is the story of "Linda". Named after the first song that popped up on Italian radio while on its maiden voyage. Yes, I listen to odd 70's Italian ballads at times!

I placed a call to my friends at Tommasini to go over the details and found that their Fire model would fit not only huge 700c tires (40mm passes easily), but that it would also take a 650b x 47mm tire, also known as Road Plus (as coined by WTB). Not only that, but the model they made for catalog photo shoots and trade show display just happened to be in my size! Only one thing was left... I just couldn't do a drab green Tommasini, so I broke out Illustrator and began... if I'm gonna do a gravel bike, a Salsa won't do... I need it to be a modo mio.
Hey Irio, please turn this...
into this!
A few more phone calls and emails and my new repainted Fire frame was here!


Three months start to finish! I usually reserve beauty shots BEFORE a dirty ride but in this case...
A nice thing about taking your time to build up a bike is that new opportunities arise, like the amazing wheel set built by my friend Pete from Ride Maple Wheels. While at the Boston Rebellion, Pete and I discussed wheels and my choice was easy... using my DT rear hub, Pete built me an amazing set of XCX wheels: Front is 408 grams, rear is 458 grams! For sneakers, my friend Roger at Kenda sent me a great hookup with a set of Flintridge Pro's in 40mm! He says they are the hottest thing going and after one ride, I can see why.


The same day the wheels arrived (after an anxious week checking UPS tracking), so did a mysterious package from China... containing my RISK titanium bolt set. I love the name. When I start my ti bolt company, the last name on my list will be "RISK". However, as much as these folks can't name a brand, they can certainly make beautiful ti bolts that left me wondering: "What happened to the ti bolt craze?!"  Regardless, many many rainbow-colored anodized ti bolts are now on my Fire.




Some RISK ti bolt love!

Count only 10 cogs and note the buried limit screw. A slight miscalculation that will soon be resolved!
"Niobium Doped Tubes"
Cheap-assed brakes that were laying around. Light and with a strong sprint, add Ti bolts, all good.
Prototype pedals that raced Paris-Roubaix. How do I know? Because I do.
Love the signature. I used to hate the horses. Love them now, too!



My latest trick: clear Gorilla Tape on the chain stay!
How do I take my beauty shots? Hula hoop and Photoshop!