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Why is there more love for Italian Steel bikes?

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Why is there more love for Italian Steel bikes?

Old 07-22-20, 07:49 AM
  #76  
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
This (including the parts I didn't quote) is a very interesting analysis. I have a sense that part of the popularity of Italian bikes is that, apart from Bianchis of a certain period, there just aren't low-end Italian bikes. I'm sure there are some, maybe more than I realize, but that's at least not the impression I have of them, and for the purposes of this discussion perception is everything.
Italy produced plenty of low end bikes. We didn't get many of them here except in the 1970s. My first ten-speed was an Atala Giro D'Italia. Gaspipe tubes, Simplex derailleurs, overall quality lower than a Peugeot UO-8 and lower price, too. There were some Chiorda bikes here that were even worse. Olmo and Bianchi are big companies that make full lines of bikes from low to high.

But there are a lot of Italian names that produce only high end, such as Pinarello. And there are reasons for that. One is the labor laws. It's hard to fire someone legally there or even lay someone off. So you have to hire carefully. This makes it hard to grow from a workshop to a big company. This led to proliferation of many very good workshops. They are the subject of admiration.
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Old 07-22-20, 09:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
LOL! I seem to have struck a nerve. LOL!
Not exactly.. I wanted to respond to the thread, generally, as my old love for my Ron Cooper, and admiration for that blue Mooney wanted an outlet... thx for the opening.
Cheers, Eric

All in good spirit, one hopes... This comes down to opinions. Even if wrong...
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Old 07-22-20, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Narhay View Post
What was it...win on Sunday, sell on Monday.


Cars and bikes would win races over the weekend and you'd have people showing up the following day cash in hand to buy the good stuff.

While this generally accurate, there are qualifications when examined in the context of the post boom, American market. If we look pro road race results for the decade immediately post boom (i,e. 1975-1984) we find Peugeot with 2 Tour de France victories, Raleigh with 1 Tour de France victory and 2 World Championships, and Gitane with 7 Tour de France victories and 1 World Championship. These are arguably the two highest profile events for American cyclists, so with 13 out of a possible 20 victories (and 10 out of 10 TdF), where are all the high end Peugeot, Raleigh and Gitane from this period?


As I stated previously, there was a major shift in the buying pattern of the high end cyclist during the post boom era. They didn't want to be seen on the same brand as the entry models that their neighbours rode. They wanted something that set them apart and made them better. The smaller Italian brands offered that. They weren't widely distributed, they didn't bother with the entry level and they were expensive. If you dug, the racing heritage was there, though often buried in less prestigious victories or under other brand names. This made them exotic and desirable to high end, American cyclists, who wanted to set themselves apart from the typical bicycle rider.


The big victories still sold entry level and, to some extent, mid-range models in the post boom American market but the high end market had made a major shift away from the full range brands. The status of an boutique marque was now more important than several recent major race victories.
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Old 07-22-20, 11:41 AM
  #79  
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Vintage, steel Italian bicycles are sexy. With apologies to @RobbieTunes, Cinelli trumps Ironman as far as sex appeal goes.
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Old 07-22-20, 11:46 AM
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Italian Transportation bicycles were just not exported , you had the Bicycle 'as sport',
but People get in the car for transportation issue in the US
because much of the country was built around the car , But Italy had been built up millennia before cars..
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Old 07-22-20, 01:22 PM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by kunsunoke View Post
They look like what we expect race bikes ought to look like.
They instantly evoke nostalgia for simpler times, when cycling didn't focus on marketing of plastic bikes to plastic people.
They have old-world craftsmanship, and are made by people that know what they are doing.
They work properly, for thousands of miles.
They're durable without being overweight.
They ride beautifully, without beating up the rider.
They have fast handling, but are not twitchy.
They often have stunning graphics and paint jobs - but in all honesty, the paint quality really sucks.
They tend to hold their value over time.
Im going to bypass the plastic bikes for plastic people sentence because it is too snobish and empty elitism to comment on...oh I may have commented on it.

The other two bolded sentences are interesting to me because they are a theme in this 4 page long thread and its a bit of funny irony to me. There is a continually stated view that Italian brands had excellent craftsmanship and attention to detail. Then there is also a continually stated view that the paint and decals are woefully inferior and of poor quality. Further, you have a poster who compliments the attention to detail the framebuilders gave while commenting that excess braze was them working too fast and justified it as more 'smart structurally' while calling the finish work 'indifferent'.

Its all just funny to me when read as 4 straight pages of views.
So a summary of old Italian bike brands in one sentence based on this thread would be- Excellent craftsmanship that results in low quality paint and sometimes poor finish work.
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Old 07-22-20, 01:24 PM
  #82  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Most Italian Export Frames, the shop I was in sold a few Thomasellis, is they shipped painted and pretty. But ..

the final threading and prep was left to the retail shopkeeper.

That sold a lot of Campagnolo frame prep tool sets ..

Was your store part bike shop and part old school brick and clamshell flip phone shop?
...behind the tools.

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Old 07-22-20, 01:28 PM
  #83  
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# 3380 in the 1975 Campagnolo Catalog # 17..
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Old 07-22-20, 01:31 PM
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The Bike Boom had them selling them as fast as they could get them out the door.. QC did suffer..
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Old 07-22-20, 01:38 PM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
note that Pinarello at their museum totally ignores the 1984 Olympic victory.
The lack of acknowledgement of the Olympic victory by the Pinarello museum can be attributed to several factors.

The Olympics was, at the time an amateur race. By that time Pinarello was sponsoring pro teams Battaglin had won the Vuelta a Espana and Giro d'Italia in 1981 riding a Pinarello for the Inoxpran team and an amateur victory, even at the Olympics, just didn't have the same stature. The Europeans looked upon amateur cycling almost the same way that Americans regarded Olympic basketball before professionals were allowed to compete - a 2nd rate affair.

Also, the factory was not directly involved with the sponsorship, with the deal having done between between Giorgio Andretta of GIta Sporting Goods and Doug Beeler of Denver Spoke. Pinarello didn't even have anything to do with the creation of the widely recognized and copied paint scheme. Pinarello was at arm's length from everything.

Finally, Pinarello weren't weren't able get their hands on the actual bicycle, after it won the gold medal.

However, it was a big very deal in the USA and was responsible for a significant rise in the sales and status of Pinarello in the USA. Gita heavily promoted the gold medal victory in cycling magazines and the Smithsonian even acquired the bicycle. Still, the factory wasn't immune to the status of the Olympic victory, including it on then palmares decal, displayed in a visually prominent position on the down tube, just above then shift levers.

Originally Posted by repechage View Post
Masi Carlsbad’s high volume production year was 1975- sales collapsed in 1976.
The USA market, as a whole, collapsed in 1975, with sales dropping from 14 million bicycles in 1974, to 7 million bicycles in 1975. I know there were lots of companies that were forecasting big sales in 1975, produced a lot of 1975 models, then were left sitting on a lot of excess stock .

Originally Posted by repechage View Post
i think it was 1975 that Columbus ran a full page advert in Bycycling! magazine- America Discovers Columbus with an image of Eddy and his bike.
I recall that advertisement. Eddy was hoisting his bicycle with Ugo looking over his shoulder. They ran another advertisement with Roger DeVlaeminck (sp?) around the same time. These were the 1st Columbus advertisements that I recall seeing. Prior to this, the American bicycling press had firmly touted Reynolds 531 as being the best tubing but Columbus' reputation grew steradily throughout the late 1970s.

Originally Posted by repechage View Post
lots at play in the 1970’s
Yes, there were. Another factor was the issue of the CONI manual. If you wanted to compete in the 1970s but didn't have access to a coach, the CONI manual was just about the only resource available and it quickly attained Biblical status. Produced by the Italian federation, its depth and approach impressed novice racers. That and its bias towards Italian equipment probably led many readers to aspire to Italian bicycles.


Originally Posted by repechage View Post
a number of the factory owned USA distributors also did not do well, Gitane USA for one.
Gitane is an interesting case. Given their race success in the post boom, they should have been on of the most popular brands. While I think their top models would still have suffered, I think lower models could still have been very popular. Peugeot was still popular in the lower price ranges and the big difference was that Gitane Pacific didn't invest in national advertising like Peugeot USA. IMO, it was a big missed opportunity.

Originally Posted by repechage View Post
and don’t discount the yen to dollar exchange rate... it ushered in the demise of the Japanese factories being priced out and the rise of others like Giant.
I don't put much measure in the yen revaluation, as it didn't happen until 1985. The shift in the high end market had already taken place. The Japanese were never able to crack the end in the post boom decade. Again, I think the big problem was the lack of a presence in the pro peloton by both the Japanese and psuedo-Japanese (American marketing brands sourced in Japan, like Nishiki, Centurion and Lotus). They certainly aspired to the high end, with the pseudo-Japanese brands even resorting to Columbus and Campagnolo and eventually having the bicycles made in Italy. Even that didn't help.

Arguably, the Japanese brand with the best high end reputation in the early 1980s was Miyata. That was to be expected, given that supplied a couple of European pro teams via Koga-Miyata.

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Old 07-22-20, 02:38 PM
  #86  
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I have a feeling that the high-end Campy/Columbus/Italian frame stuff that some of the Japanese companies engaged in was partly for their domestic market. Wealthy Japanese cyclists loved themselves custom-made Italian bikes, and you saw companies like Bridgestone and Miyata offering high-end custom frames for their domestic markets likely to compete for the high-end market.


One of the funnier things I've read (it might have been on Disraeli Gears) is the complete difference in reputation for Bridgestone bicycles between the West and East (where they were pretty much their version of Trek/Specialized/Cannondale - good quality but not "interesting").




Speaking of Columbus, I remember some European framebuilders switching from Reynolds 531 to Columbus to sell in America, specifically because Columbus had a "fancier" reputation than 531, and American consumers expected it on a top-of-the-line bike.

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Old 07-22-20, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by sheddle View Post
...One of the funnier things I've read (it might have been on Disraeli Gears) is the complete difference in reputation for Bridgestone bicycles between the West and East (where they were pretty much their version of Trek/Specialized/Cannondale - good quality but not "interesting")....
Most bicycle manufacturers, once they opened their USA divisions, hired local designers to tailor the bicycles for the American market. Consequently, models could vary from market to market. The "interesting" designs for American market Bridgestone are probably those attributable to designer Grant Peterson. I wouldn't say Bridgestone was conservative prior to Grant, but they went to whole different level, once Grant took over the designer's chair.

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Old 07-22-20, 03:11 PM
  #88  
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I distinctly remember thinking it was funny that Grant was extolling steel in catalogs just a year after they were selling Bridgestone RADACs here.
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Old 07-22-20, 04:34 PM
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There is a video on youtube of someone having a talk with Luigi Daccordi at his factory. He's there patiently talking to the person filming (nobody particularly important), messing around with his shirt off and at one point lovingly stroking one of his frames as if it were his 10 year old dog sitting on his lap. There is true love there, even after all these years, and it's hard to imagine something like that anywhere else...

Originally Posted by Wileyone View Post
And the best thing about them is you can't understand a word they are saying.
Quite the contrary. We could start another thread on this, but generally what comes out of their mouth is better than what you get from the Bud Lite crowd...

Originally Posted by Narhay View Post
What was it...win on Sunday, sell on Monday.
Cars and bikes would win races over the weekend and you'd have people showing up the following day cash in hand to buy the good stuff.
Ducati, Ferrari, Aprilia and Alfa still believe! Plus Lancia before that with some of the most iconic and beautiful rally cars of all time

Originally Posted by Germany_chris View Post
Porsche>Ferrari all day and twice on Sunday
I think you forgot the winkey face emoji. Last time I checked, Porsche haven't even shown their faces on a Sunday (on an F1 starting grid) for years. And while their street cars are fine for "gentleman racers" and more affordable than most Ferraris, nobody would rate them over Ferrari for looks or driving experience.
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Old 07-22-20, 05:25 PM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
And while their street cars are fine for "gentleman racers" and more affordable than most Ferraris, nobody would rate them over Ferrari for looks or driving experience.
While growing up, I was firmly in the Ferrari camp, my brother in the Porsche camp, And while sibling rivalry would have me lock step with you wrote, in reality, come on. Just come on.

The 550 Spyder is quite frankly on the top of the heap.

Ferrari hasn't done jack squat at Le Mans since the mid-60s. And my favorite race story is from Jackie Ickx. "Asked by a beautiful woman at a party, what was the fastest I drove, I replied, '230mph in my Ferrari on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans'. What I failed to tell her I was being passed by a Porsche 917 going 240mph."

Ferrari F1 this year is looking quite sad.

And to round it off, the 308. Enough said.

Not saying Porsche didn't dredge up dreck over the years, just saying it isn't them or us like boys being boys will do.
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Old 07-22-20, 07:05 PM
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The Italians figured out the classic racing frame geometry, which everyone else eventually copied. Also, Campagnolo components ruled the racing world for decades (everyone ended up copying those as well), so those two factors give Italian racing bikes more prestige. But if you want a classic tourer or sport rider or city bike, then it's French or English for sure.
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Old 07-22-20, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by T-Mar View Post
Most bicycle manufacturers, once they opened their USA divisions, hired local designers to tailor the bicycles for the American market. Consequently, models could vary from market to market. The "interesting" designs for American market Bridgestone are probably those attributable to designer Grant Peterson. I wouldn't say Bridgestone was conservative prior to Grant, but they went to whole different level, once Grant took over the designer's chair.

Ben Lawee was a savvy importer- italvega then univega - well specified bikes.

in Southern California, about the time Centurion got going well, Alan Goldsmith of Bikeology brought out his private label to his shops, at least in SoCal, Niko, just after I typed that, Nico? About specified as well as a Centurion, good colors, color matched bar tape, saddle and cable housing. The bikes looked snappy. For a time some winners. He later sold off most of the shops, opened a SuperGo branded shop and converted his flagship store to that as the half dozed Bikeology shops he sold, mostly individually were not keeping up a good reputation.
an interesting strategy. Overall he did well, sold off his big store to Performance and had fun.
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Old 07-22-20, 10:29 PM
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Should have mentioned- in Southern California for a time within less than a mile it was bike shop war.
Sea Schwinn
superGo
Two wheel transit
performance
and another shop - name escapes me- well run

all near Warner and Magnolia.
LA times when it had a circulation of over a million daily wrote a multi page article even.

twowheel got killed eventually- custom built store too.
They had moved from Downtown Huntington Beach - Jax cycle center took their old spot- inherited their customers.
in one regard it was understandable - the old shop was too close to the beach- no customers on the water.
but had been a shop there for 50+ years. Was the bike barn prior.
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Old 07-22-20, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Vintage, steel Italian bicycles are sexy. With apologies to @RobbieTunes, Cinelli trumps Ironman as far as sex appeal goes.
So you ride Raleighs because....
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Old 07-23-20, 05:58 AM
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
Vintage, steel Italian bicycles are sexy. With apologies to @RobbieTunes, Cinelli trumps Ironman as far as sex appeal goes.
With an Ironman, you don’t have to bother with dinner and a glass of wine.
They know what you're there after.

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Old 07-23-20, 08:55 AM
  #96  
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
The 550 Spyder is quite frankly on the top of the heap.
Ferrari hasn't done jack squat at Le Mans since the mid-60s.
Ferrari F1 this year is looking quite sad.
I don't doubt that you have good taste in bikes, but if you (or any human being) would prefer a 550 Spyder over a 250 GT California, you need to see some doctors. First and eye doctor, and then maybe a head doctor depending what happens during your first visit.

And nobody cares about Le Mans anymore. F1 has always been the pinnacle, and Ferrari have always been there. Sure, there have been some less than impressive years, including 2020, but no other manufacturer has such a direct link between what is built to race and what is built to drive on the streets. The brand is unique and special, no matter how many yuppie jerks try to ruin it by buying their cars to drive a few miles to the golf course or nightclub.

Getting back to this year, people in Italy are up in arms about Ferrari's F1 form, which brings us back (closer) to the original topic. In what other country is the F1 team such a deep symbol of national pride?
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Old 07-23-20, 02:13 PM
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
I don't doubt that you have good taste in bikes, but if you (or any human being) would prefer a 550 Spyder over a 250 GT California, you need to see some doctors. First and eye doctor, and then maybe a head doctor depending what happens during your first visit.

And nobody cares about Le Mans anymore. F1 has always been the pinnacle, and Ferrari have always been there. Sure, there have been some less than impressive years, including 2020, but no other manufacturer has such a direct link between what is built to race and what is built to drive on the streets. The brand is unique and special, no matter how many yuppie jerks try to ruin it by buying their cars to drive a few miles to the golf course or nightclub.

Getting back to this year, people in Italy are up in arms about Ferrari's F1 form, which brings us back (closer) to the original topic. In what other country is the F1 team such a deep symbol of national pride?
Sounds like you are making a lot of excuses for Ferrari.

And you haven't come up with anything for the 308 (not that you could).

I'm off to the doctor's office ....

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Old 07-23-20, 05:39 PM
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Originally Posted by iab View Post
Sounds like you are making a lot of excuses for Ferrari.
And you haven't come up with anything for the 308 (not that you could).
I'm off to the doctor's office ....
What's the problem with the 308, exactly? Too slow for you? Too many guys driving them with Hawaiian shirts on?

And no excuses. Nobody, or no company, is perfect. But, as I said, Porsche hasn't had the guts to show up on an F1 grid for how many decades now? That's game set and match for me.
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Old 07-23-20, 06:22 PM
  #99  
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As to the original question, I think some have covered the reasons why well enough already, some rational, some not so much.

All I know is, I still can't believe I get to ride this bike.


Ride 'em if ya got 'em.
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Old 07-23-20, 06:53 PM
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iab
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Originally Posted by robertorolfo View Post
What's the problem with the 308, exactly? Too slow for you? Too many guys driving them with Hawaiian shirts on?

And no excuses. Nobody, or no company, is perfect. But, as I said, Porsche hasn't had the guts to show up on an F1 grid for how many decades now? That's game set and match for me.
V8. My Mazda is faster. Wedge design at least a decade late. ick.

Porsche was effectively never an F1 player. Nothing to disagree about there. Enzo rolled on everything except F1 how many decades ago? Not surprising though. What's F1 budget now? $500 million?
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