ITALIAN ROAD BICYCLES-THE LEGENDARY CRAFT
The Italian frame masters considered the teaching of their craft as important as the legacy of their art. They hand picked apprentices to whom they would pass on their secrets. Students would spend years in the master’s studio. The honing of their craft could take a decade. But one day, they could become masters in their own right.
The masters of Italian frame building followed the same pattern. Each would take an apprentice frame builders into their shops. They would pour decades of knowledge into them.
However, with the advent of carbon fiber, master frame builders saw the beginning of their end. Resin and molding replaced brazing and mitering. A century’s hard won knowledge was in danger of being lost.
Despite cycling’s obsessive desire to push mass production, a few shops have kept the flame of the master frame builder alive.
One man, Renzo Formigli, studied at the bench of legendary cycling icon Cino Cinelli. At the age of 21, Renzo was brought under Cinelli’s tutelage and taught his secrets.
Formigli then applied the one-frame-at-a-time craftsmanship of steel to high modulus carbon.
Formigli is one of the select few frame builders still left in Italy. He makes fewer frames in a year than many major brands pop out of a mold in a single day. These new masters have a desire to work as their masters did, in Italy. They work out of a small shop, creating bikes that maintain a personal connection between builder and rider.