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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 8:27 pm 
retrobike rider
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Sorry, not a thread about wine, but frames.

My son and I were having a chat last night and he said "I don't get this whole Italian thing", and to a degree I confess I have to agree, although I do like the style of some Italian manufacturers.

So, when it comes to frames or whole bikes, why are Italian designs favoured over those from Britain, France, Holland etc. Or is that not necessarily the case.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:27 pm 
Gold Trader
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I think this can be answered in one word.

"Campagnolo".

And in depth -
Campag kit on an Italian bike makes more "sense".

French kit - Mafac etc was a bit odd-looking but is great on French bikes.And then the French standard threads problem...

British bikes can have lovely and elaborate frames but are more "off the wall" and it can be harder to find the parts that look right on them.

Dutch/Belgian - seem to hardly show up in other than huge sizes......

Later stuff like Look etc... changed the rules a bit but I don't think it's this kind of stuff you mean is it?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:39 pm 
PoTM Winner
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It's a mixture of the Campagnolo factor and the brands used by our heros when we were kids.

Plus there is a certain Italian style the is less tangible.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:39 pm 
retrobike rider
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dbmtb wrote:
Later stuff like Look etc... changed the rules a bit but I don't think it's this kind of stuff you mean is it?


My personal tastes run from the 60's to the modern day, but for the sake of this discussion let's stop at the 1997 standard used elsewhere on the forum.

I should add, that the conversation with my son started because of Ed's question about the value of Colnago frames and their worth. I started the conversation questioning why British made frames seem so undervalued and the discussion went on from there.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:51 pm 
PoTM Winner
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It's all about branding and fashion.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:06 pm 
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I don't think it's possible to answer this question with one single explanation,
but I think the following have a role:

1) The nature of Italian cycling culture and the way it fits into Italian consumer culture in general. Italians seem willing to pay a lot for high quality stuff, even beyond what they can actually afford. It's the same with bikes - you don't see many Italian cyclists riding round on the equivalent of Halfords/Decathlon bog standard bikes - everyone seems to have a really nice road bike. This presumably means there is a market for such bikes in Italy, so the high end bike industry has a foothold. It also means Italian bikes are generally associated with quality, class and style by outsiders - go cycling in Italy or watch Italian cycling and you want an Italian bike.

2) The general concentration of bike part manufacturing in Italy. People have made this point about Campagnolo, but there's also Cinelli and 3ttt for bars and stems, Ambrosio, Nisi etc for rims, the various saddle makers. Hard to think of many other countries where you could put a top end bike together with components from that country alone.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 10:58 pm 
retrobike rider
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But surely there is a similar history of cycling in France and a long enough period when the French riders and manufacturers had a record of racing success, yet French bikes hardly seem to figure at all on the forum, although I'm sure they do in France.

And what of our own history and industry; with the exceptions of a few Raleigh's from G.O'D's workshop and maybe a couple of other manufacturers, there are almost no bikes that I have seen here that are held in such high regard or are sold for the kind of values that Italian machinery does.

Fascinating stuff.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 11:19 pm 
retrobike rider / Gold Trader
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Italy, France and the UK have given the world a lot of very nice bikes, so have many other countries.

in recent times, its harder to distinguish how this works as Italy still have a lot of Brands but don't do so many 'in house', the Uk is more resurgent on Hand-made and France is still quite avant-garde with the likes of Look, Time, Gitane not being as strong as it was for a few examples

that said, what is your ideal bike? for me it is something like a Pinarello with C-Record or perhaps a cromovelato Wilier, or, a nice Vintage Gitane, or something like a Roberts, but then i am personally biased!.

if you had to buy a supercar, where would it come from? high end bikes are a little like this (in my daft opinion). they do the same thing but with a different focus

look at Colnago's and tell me they do not make beautiful bikes, look at Enigma, Roberts, many others and tell me they aren't slightly understated but very capable and focussed, and look at Time etc and say they aren't the bleeding edge of development.

I used to work at a Bentley garage, which had a sideline in selling other stuff - recently they had a murcielago, a carrera GT and assorted bentleys in there, they are all very great cars in different ways yet you can see their heritage in their bloodline and yet, like the respective bikes, they can all be very alluring in their own ways.

this is like bikes ;)

and Italian bikes, especially retro ones, for me, just have that right mix of design, function and *ahem* marque. But, i like them all and its a close run thing

The ONE bike i still want, is a Montello in smoked chrome, with panto, one-off C-Record in smoked Pinarello writ groupset, the best bike I ever saw.

I'll get me anorak...


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 9:45 am 
Retro Guru

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NeilM wrote:
But surely there is a similar history of cycling in France and a long enough period when the French riders and manufacturers had a record of racing success, yet French bikes hardly seem to figure at all on the forum, although I'm sure they do in France.


Again, the lack of love for French bikes may have to do with a combination of factors.

There's the traditional cultural, sporting, and industrial rivalry between the UK and France. There are still people who just see anything French as inherently rubbish, partly out of prejudice. It's not so evident in the US - see the section on French bikes on Sheldon Brown, for example...

The components problem plays a role too. While there is good stuff like Mavic and Stronglisht, many people's first experience of retro French bits is
the dreaded Simplex Prestige, or maybe some steel Huret house-brick. That probably contributes to a negative impression of French stuff. Campagnolo was simply better at maintaining an image of quality.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 12:15 pm 
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The really best French bikes were probably the unique constructeur-built tourers where they designed and built the entire bike, not just a frame.


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