To design a brand new carbon frame design, Renzo starts by drawing the frame concept by hand, then, with the carbon engineer, he analyzes each tube’s shape and its performance with the engineer to decide each tube’s final design. Next, a shop in Florence produces the proprietary molds. Our carbon tubes are then produced using these molds by a specialist company in Florence that also makes carbon fiber parts for Ferrari and Ducati. Each Formigli model has its own tube molds and unique tube sets.
Next comes the process of building a custom frame for a customer. First we get to know the rider and his/her wishes. We take measurements. Then we do a computer generated design of the frame to be constructed. We mock up a graphic file if a custom paint scheme is requested. The tubes are made. The tubes are cut and put in a mask and bonded. The tubes are next sent to our carbon shop in Modena, where the lugs are wrapped in carbon, and then bonded together in a process called sottovuoto, forming a much stiffer frame than a monocoque.
Next, the tubes are filled with sand and placed in a plastic vacuum bag. A proprietary vacuum sealing technique is used for the curing process. The sand prevents deformation of the tubing during the heating process and the vacuum creates a space devoid of air.
After the frame is prepped, it is heated to precisely 248°F for an hour, then slowly returned to about 100°F over a period of ten hours. Once removed from the oven, the bag is inflated, the frame is removed and the sand is cleaned out.
Once the finished frame is cured it goes through a meticulous sanding process. The joints are then polished by hand – so time consuming that mass-produced frames are not made using a tube-to-tube process because it takes four times longer to make a Formigli frame than a monocoque.
The final stage is the application of a resin like substance that seals the porosity of the carbon and readies the frame for painting.
The frame is then sent to Antonio, our painter, in the countryside outside Florence. The frame is further sanded and prepared for the paint process. The paint process takes approximately 12 hours. Each frame is painted by Antonio, from start to finish for consistency.
We develop the graphics and colours with the client. . The painter uses a complex Aereographe process to achieve the client’s exact colour choice. Customers are not limited to just a few color options, instead Formigli can paint a frame any color variation desired.
Formigli builds every frame with a tube-to-tube construction process. Building tube-to-tube allows for the creation of a custom frame based on each individual’s specific body measurements. Tube-to-tube design also enables us to use superior carbon that varies in layers and composition.
In contrast, 98% of other road bikes are now made in Asia–using a monocoque mold process, which takes hours to produce and paint a frame versus Formigli’s process which takes 6-8 weeks.