Friday, March 31, 2017

New full-carbon rental bicycles!

We have it! "Belloni" named after Gaetano Belloniwinner of the Giro d'Italia in 1920 has arrived at our shop in Iowa. We've shown photos of this bike, made exclusively for us by Michele Favaloro  with various other components installed for promotional purposes, but this is the way these new bikes will be equipped for you to ride in Italy.

You'll enjoy Campagnolo's newest-latest groupset, POTENZA. 11 speeds with compact (34/50) chainrings and 11-32 cogset will give you all the gears you need, whether going up or down. The revised brakeset will make sure you can control your speed as the new pad compound has received rave reviews. The brakes will grab aluminum URSUS Athon wheels as shown.

Larry LOVES the headtube logo. It reminds him of the old MV Agusta motorcycles. The headtubes on these bikes are a few centimeters taller than our previous bikes in an effort to get the bars in your perfect position. To fit Heather or Larry this means the stems have no spacers underneath, but we can put up to 3 cm under them if needed. Combined with our adjustable stems (same as our current bikes) we're sure we can dial-in your perfect position.

Although we've yet to ride this new bike more than up-and-down the block (update - Larry took it out later today for an hour and reports that it rides and handles just like our current aluminum/carbon bike, but at a weight of just 8 kg) but after spending 3 days with Favaloro at NAHBS and a few email exchanges about the final specs on the rest of the fleet, we''re confident about the ride-quality and have authorized the construction of "Atala", "Cunego", "Girardengo" and "Pambianco". to add to "Belloni"  so we can offer a range of sizes to fit most riders.

These photos show Michele didn't waste any time getting to work on the rest of the fleet! The frames are put into vacuum bags to compress all the fibers and resin used in the joints before being baked in the oven to cure and make everything a solid structure.

The air is carefully sucked out of each bag.

They're then baked under carefully controlled conditions. 

Four identical bikes (except for sizing of course) made this project a bit easier, at least that's what we hope!

Our small fleet begins to take shape in the Favaloro shop.

ALL of the tubes are round. We wanted a classic bike, but one made with modern materials. Round tubes also mean less wasted material, meaning lower costs as the Toray 3K carbon sheets Favaloro uses don't come cheap!

Neither does the equipment required to produce the frames. One more reason Italian guys who once brazed lugged steel frames in their shops all over Italy were reluctant to switch to carbon (or aluminum back-in-the-day) as the pros made the move away from classic steel frames.

We're not tossing out our classic steel bikes, but we realize more and more of you have ridden nothing but carbon-fiber bicycles and expect nothing less on your dream trip to Italy. We waited (and waited) until we could offer you 100% Made-in-Italy bikes built to Larry's specifications to match the ride and handling characteristics of our tried-and-true current rental fleet.

Beyond this, we wanted to highlight the idea that for the same price as a Made-in-China bike from the big brands (S, T, G, etc.) with a Favaloro you can get a full-carbon frame and fork created just for you - TO YOUR EXACT MEASUREMENTS. This is like buying a custom, hand-made suit at an off-the-rack price! Sure, a skilled tailor can alter your off-the-rack suit so it looks and feels good, same as your bike shop can adjust stem lengths etc. to dial-in your fit. But why settle for off-the-rack when you can have a true, made-to-measure bicycle for around the same price? 

While the big brands have the advantage of volume production and low-cost labor, they also spend millions on pro team sponsorship and other marketing/promotion, not to mention the markup from actual producer in China to the big brand importer/distributor plus the markup your dealer needs to stay in business. Even if you buy direct via the internet and cut out some of that markup you're faced with the same off-the-rack choice of sizes - too small, too big and close enough!

With far fewer people involved in the production of a Favaloro the price difference between off-the-rack vs made-to-measure or Made-in-China vs Made-in-Italy goes away. Think about this when it's time for your new bike!

We also wanted to let you try Campagnolo's latest groupset. Larry thinks they drifted away from their original philosophy at bit in the past, but with Potenza they're back - the same great performance of the top-of-the-line groupsets, but at a lower price. For that lower price you get lower-tech materials (aluminum and steel vs carbon-fiber and titanium) which weigh a bit more, though Potenza is competitive in the weight category vs similarly-priced Asian-produced rivals. For a detailed comparison click HERE.

The rest of the fleet will be ready by the time our Paradise in Piedmont tour begins. There's still time to reserve your place AND a Favaloro full-carbon bike. But don't wait too long. as space (and bikes) are limited.

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