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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 07-21-20, 02:27 AM
  #1  
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Why is there more love for Italian Steel bikes?

Italian bikes seem to have a bigger following than say American, Japanese and other European steel framed bikes. Don't get me wrong British bikes like TI Raleigh has it's fair share die hard fans.

What is it really? It is the old world craftsmanship or some drawing charm?.... Or the label that says 'Made in Italy'.

Sorry to offend anyone, but just wondering....

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Old 07-21-20, 03:51 AM
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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.
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Old 07-21-20, 04:04 AM
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They are industrial works of art and Campagnolo was the gold medal standard when it came to bicycle parts for many years.

They are also, I think, overrated.

BTW, my guess is that most posters here will agree that Italian bikes are special. There is a lot more disagreement on this when it comes to French bikes. I started a thread on that a while ago,

https://www.bikeforums.net/classic-v...nch-bikes.html

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Old 07-21-20, 04:38 AM
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Growing up in the early 80's I had a Schwinn because my grandpa was a Schwinn rep for 20+ years from the mid fifties onward; my dad and 2 of his brothers were often used in sale pitches, but my dad didn't like even the Paramount once he started to get into his late teens. Not only that but you had all of them about to get full athletic scholarships but were getting beat at velos by guys with... yup, Italian bikes. There also were plenty of custom framebuilders (seemingly) in Italy that would build to suit but not in the US at the time. I remember him and my one uncle both drooling over early steel Trek's and my dad got one for touring whereas my one uncle heard the siren song of this new aluminum frame from some upstart company called Cannondale and went that direction. My dad went on a bike trip across NY back in like '86, but didn't want to use the Trek for some reason, and came back to his place one day with a Belgian frame who's name I can't remember, and I remember him showing me the stays and the tubing and how it was put together and why it was better and lighter than even his Trek and how he would've gone with an Italian bike but at 6'4:, 225# most of them were not making frames to fit him. On another trip however, he met with some guy from West Germany who was bikepacking across the area with a custom Italian bike that was the same size as my dad, and they rode back to Buffalo and actually did a bike swap once they took off their saddles and panniers.

Fast forward to today and there's lot's of great frame builders both here and abroad. I have some Jamis's that I adore, but they're all made in Taiwan. I've got a few Bianchi's all made in Italy, and I gotta say I like them even more. Maybe it's the micro-shift & rebuild qualities of the Campy ergo's and the loud ass pawls in the freehub vs my 105 or ultegra? Maybe it's the idea that I'm riding a bike made by the oldest bike company in the world? I know I myself can't tell the difference between my Reynolds 520 vs Bianchi's chromolite 4130 or the Reynolds 853 against the Columbus SL regardless of bike manufacturer. But what I've come across personally though is that even if you go to smaller companies nowadays like All City, the framesets are all coming out of Taiwan so regardless of brand it all seems to be the same thing but with different 'custom' specs and badging; to me it's like getting a Sable vs a Taurus, or an Escalade vs a Yukon. I won't even look at new Bianchi Vigorelli's, for example because even they are mass produced on some heartless albeit high quality welding line in Taiwan, so to me it's like they've lost their soul a little bit even though the ride and build quality is still there. (Some)Italians however are still making beautiful steel frames in house that aren't 6 of the same Chinese bike coming off the same production line but with different paint jobs or cable routing; just look at the Cinelli XCR, or the Tommasini Techno(drool) or Sintesi(drool) as examples.

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Old 07-21-20, 04:54 AM
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Soul.


The same thing a Fender Strat or Gibson Les Paul has. It may not be real but if you believe it; it's true.
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Old 07-21-20, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by kunsunoke View Post
They instantly evoke nostalgia for simpler times, when cycling didn't focus on marketing of plastic bikes to plastic people.
.
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Old 07-21-20, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Soul.


The same thing a Fender Strat or Gibson Les Paul has. It may not be real but if you believe it; it's true.
Italian bikes are so much better when they have French shifters, right? 😉
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Old 07-21-20, 06:52 AM
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Kunsunoke pretty much covered it. I have had too many bikes for years now and loved the Italians. My rack that holds my bikes used in the current daily rotation has the lowest number of Italians ever right now, a Colnago Master, and Tommasini Tecno and Diamante join three customs. Now 70 I only recently realize the shift away for the Italians and it comes from less flexibility and liking the bars raised which is easy on the customs and unacceptable on the Italians. I just could never put a Nitto technomic on a Pinarello or CIÖCC.
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Old 07-21-20, 07:08 AM
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Is it because bikes built by Italians have won more races than bikes built by non-Italians?
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Old 07-21-20, 07:13 AM
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Because some incredibly famous cyclists rode them. Bianchi is as much part of the Fausto Coppi lore as anything. Colnago and De Rosa are part of Eddy Merckx's image. Pinarello has used success in pro races as part of its brand as successfully as any maker ever has.



Also because the guy in Breaking Away wasn't riding a Peugeot.*



*(yes, I know that was actually an American bike, but c'mon)

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Old 07-21-20, 07:25 AM
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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.
Wow. Talk about plastic marketing.
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Old 07-21-20, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by kunsunoke View Post
They often have stunning graphics and paint jobs - but in all honesty, the paint quality really sucks.
Just change "stunning" to "cheesy", and my "Mens sana" Cinelli would resemble that remark. I do like riding it, though.
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Old 07-21-20, 07:30 AM
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Ironically, the French said it best, je ne sais quoi.
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Old 07-21-20, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by funbuffalo24 View Post
I won't even look at new Bianchi Vigorelli's, for example because even they are mass produced on some heartless albeit high quality welding line in Taiwan, so to me it's like they've lost their soul a little bit even though the ride and build quality is still there. (Some)Italians however are still making beautiful steel frames in house that aren't 6 of the same Chinese bike coming off the same production line but with different paint jobs or cable routing; just look at the Cinelli XCR, or the Tommasini Techno(drool) or Sintesi(drool) as examples.
For me, Bianchi lost some luster when Sky Yeager left. Models like the Volpe, Pista and even the 90s Milano helped make one of the oldest bike companies on the planet seem improbably cool. IDK if they still have them, but I remember thinking how cool their line of steel "do-anything" bikes (we'd call them "gravel bikes" now) were in the mid-00s.

My first serious bike (not the Bridgestone 300 that was at least 5cm too tall for me) was an Eros I got specifically because I thought that a big company still making "serious" road bikes out of steel was really cool- I don't know if it seemed weirder in 2008 or so than it did now.



e) For another shot at this, a lot of countries have stereotypes, fair or not, attached to their engineering. Germans like everything precise and balanced, Japanese like improving the obvious imperfections that the arrogant Europeans refuse to admit, French like doing whatever the hell they want no matter how weird it is. Italian stuff always reminded me of the old saying for sports cars that fast should be beautiful- i.e. that aesthetics and function aren't separate, but are in fact two sides of the same coin, and that the world's best bicycle or car should also be the world's most beautiful one. Of course a lot of this is fictitious, but there's still an element of truth to different cultures bringing different philosophies to engineering to the table.

I think this quote, ironically not from an Italian framebuilder (but one very much inspired by them) sums that up-

'The bicycle is sort of a picture," he says of what he, learned; 'it is artistic. Each bike has a basic function and specification. In addition to that, though, the bike has to be well-balanced and beautiful, both by itself and when the rider is on it. I build every bicycle as if everybody sees it and appreciates its beauty. I don't build in a mechanical way, because even if a bike is 100-percent mechanically correct, if it looks ugly when the rider is on it, then it is not successful. - Yoshiaki Nagasawa

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Old 07-21-20, 08:22 AM
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sheddle sums it up well for me. There must be a reason so many bikes in the history of the grand Tours have been Italian. Today the mix is greater but the Italians are more often next to the podium than not. The passion comes through it all.
Originally Posted by sheddle View Post
... Italian stuff always reminded me of the old saying for sports cars that fast should be beautiful- i.e. that aesthetics and function aren't separate, but are in fact two sides of the same coin, and that the world's best bicycle or car should also be the world's most beautiful one. Of course a lot of this is fictitious, but there's still an element of truth to different cultures bringing different philosophies to engineering to the table.

I think this quote, ironically not from an Italian framebuilder (but one very much inspired by them) sums that up-
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Old 07-21-20, 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
Soul.


The same thing a Fender Strat or Gibson Les Paul has. It may not be real but if you believe it; it's true.
My Fender Strat and Tele are made in Japan and they are superb Guitars.
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Old 07-21-20, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Wileyone View Post
My "Fender" Strat and Tele are made in Japan and they are superb Guitars.
Fixed it for you.

Kidding. My Japanese Fender Jaguar bass (the first version, with all the switches and knobs) might be the best bass I've ever owned.
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Old 07-21-20, 08:38 AM
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I drank the kool-aide. I think it happened when I was stationed in Italy in the 60's and walking around the small town near the base I happened to look in the window of an engineering supply store and saw the most streamlined drafting machine ever - and I thot ............... only in Italy.
The rest is History

BTW the cars go without saying and the shotguns are a near necessity for a serious shooter
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Old 07-21-20, 08:49 AM
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It's a meme
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Old 07-21-20, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Steel Charlie View Post
I drank the kool-aide. I think it happened when I was stationed in Italy in the 60's and walking around the small town near the base I happened to look in the window of an engineering supply store and saw the most streamlined drafting machine ever - and I thot ............... only in Italy.
The rest is History

BTW the cars go without saying and the shotguns are a near necessity for a serious shooter
Not if the Shotguns are SxS's. The English quality is second to none.
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Old 07-21-20, 09:40 AM
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A lot of it is simple romanticism and a belief that European stuff is better. It is what has allowed some companies to slap a storied Italian name on Chinese made frames and components and sell it with Italian pride.

The difference in ride feel of an old Italian steel frame is not that much different than of a British, French or Japanese built frame. I would argue that a True Temper based IF Crown Jewel has just as nice of a ride as any Italian steel bike.

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Old 07-21-20, 10:18 AM
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British bikes were "stodgy" and focused on 3 speed "English racers".

French bikes had non-standard threading.

American bikes were just "gas pipe specials".

That leaves the Italians, who made light weight, high performance bikes.
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Old 07-21-20, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by easyupbug View Post
Kunsunoke pretty much covered it. I have had too many bikes for years now and loved the Italians. My rack that holds my bikes used in the current daily rotation has the lowest number of Italians ever right now, a Colnago Master, and Tommasini Tecno and Diamante join three customs. Now 70 I only recently realize the shift away for the Italians and it comes from less flexibility and liking the bars raised which is easy on the customs and unacceptable on the Italians. I just could never put a Nitto technomic on a Pinarello or CIÖCC.
I think the Italian love is because it might the first "nice" bike many of us got, after graduating from baloon tires, three speeds and lower level "10-speeds". I did my first junior race on a heavy, but beautiful (to me) red Schwinn Continental. When my folks saw that I was serious about racing, they got me a Legnano Roma, in 1964. I raced it, commuted to college on it, hung it on the garage wall for 20 years, finally got back on it when I turned 50, and the love affair has continued for over 20 more years. At 71, now, the Nitto Technohomic stem works for me. I hated changing out the old Ambrosio, but the Nitto has meant many more years of happy riding. I now have a couple of British Raleighs, a French Peugeot, and various Asian-built moderns, but the old Legnano is my first love. That being said, my $20 CL find, a '78 Raleigh Super Course is often my "go to" daily rider, for everything from post office errands to fast club rides. The Legnano is mostly used on special rides like Eroica, but the Legnano does make every ride special, plus its the only bike that I've been up to 60 mph on, though not lately!


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Old 07-21-20, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Bad Lag View Post
British bikes were "stodgy" and focused on 3 speed "English racers".

French bikes had non-standard threading.

American bikes were just "gas pipe specials".

That leaves the Italians, who made light weight, high performance bikes.
Here's a "Stodgy" British bike for you built in 1985 fillet brazed slx at 18.5 lbs. it will absolutely trash the Colnago and Cinelli I had.

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Old 07-21-20, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Wileyone View Post
Not if the Shotguns are SxS's. The English quality is second to none.
You, unfortunately, are living in a distant past. Perhaps one that even never existed considering Beretta has been making guns for several hundred years longer than English gunmakers. It will be a very cold day when England produces a SxS (or any other gun) superior to Bertuzzi, Fabbri, Perazzi, or any one of maybe a dozen other Italian gunmakers.
you need to get out more
just sayin'

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