Italian Custom – The search
After what seemed a life-time of riding my trusty Wilier Triestina Izoard, a well-engineered monocoque machine bought at Filipos (ex-MTB Italian national champion) Dieffe Bici Wilier Punto Rosso store. Known previously as Bicicli Verona, is probably one of the best road-bike stores in Veneto. Bicicli was my local bike shop for a number of seasons, with Roberto as resident expert mechanic their services are highly recommended if you ever have a problem in the area or need any obscure part. He goes the extra kilometre.
So the Izoard was due for replacement and I had been window shopping for a Titanium frame to contend with British roads and mucky winters and a spare for summer. This was proving quite a challenge with a vast array of manufacturers offering all sorts of quality at all sorts of prices; Lynskey, Moots, Van Nicolas, Qoroz, Enigma, Lite Speed, Dedacciai, the list goes on. I was struggling to find an ideal frame, as I have an anatomical build similar to many Italians, short torso and longish legs. Stack and reach really needs to be comfortable without compromising pedal stroke and leg angle, and hence avoid injury! As a massive Italophile, I knew it should be Italian made, but I was running out of options as many manufacturers are full on carbon with only a few metal frame builders, Legend being one. However, Il Re and The Queen are high quality craftsmanship and the ride quality is superb but they don’t quite have the aura I was looking for.
No….I needed something with more prestige, heritage…and closer to the spirit of Bicissimo. Tomassini, Grosseto although infamous doesn’t immediately spring to mind, but is still one of the longest standing and understated Italian frame builders in Italy. The company could have been considered to have passed it’s prime with high profile Italian teams such as Mapei Quick Step, but it has a provenance as good as any Chianti DOCG and is etched into perpetual cycling history.
The factory is located on the outskirts of Grosetto near the south-west coast of Tuscany and are still going strong in the sea of modern copycat carbon frame designers, with the classic retro styling updated and sculpted into modern competitive machines for all levels of cyclist. Updated styling and geometry with a strong flavour of Tommasini heritage…they offer something unique, an exceptional piece of artisan Italian ciclosport.
Not to say I wasn’t tempted to stick with sleek carbon, as I have been guiding and offering some excellent rentals for guests, the De Rosa R383 is a couple of steps up from entry level but the frame is solid, elegant and handles extremely and is well balanced in the Chianti hills. Even the new full race profile Tommasini VCL-3 looks stunning although I haven’t been fortunate enough to test ride one yet, but my head was only turned briefly as I caught a glimpse of the Mach, a new addition after the X-Fire. Both frames are considered Grandfondo style geometry, more relaxed, although this is determined by the custom fit and frame sizing which is what also appealed to me….a trip to Grosseto was on the horizon! Between tours I managed to sneak in a visit to the factory (instead of sending third party fit geometry for the frame builder to use), and met with Barbara and the authentic famiglia Tommasini to get my custom fit done.
In typical Italian fashion I was late for my appointment (roadworks on the Florence-Siena highway was my excuse), but Barbara had been flexible throughout our arrangements and the only concern was for the everyone to get to lunch on time, during this extremely warm August weekday. First things first, café of course….even in 40 degrees of heat who doesn’t need a strong coffee?
One of the reasons I founded Bicissimo is because I love Italian customs, friendliness and ability to make everyone feel welcome regardless of time. This may be apparent to those who visit Italy regularly but shouldn’t be considered rude when standing in line or waiting for others to be served as everyone receives full customer service. So I rushed to get changed for the bike fit, and even after just five minutes of pedalling in the fit studio had me at the start of a full sweat, not reflective of my self-reported fitness level! Although I’m sure the resistance was crank