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By Matt Pacocha
Milan’s 63rd International Cycle Exhibition kicked off Friday, celebrating Italy’s passion for the road bike and doing so in the massive and very new Nuova Fiera Milano.
The new venue put all of the EICMA show’s attendees on the same level: We were all lost and most standing in slack-jawed amazement at the building designed by the famous Massimiliano Fuksass. Its 21,032 square meters of floor space increases the amount of room afforded the show by a whopping 25 percent. The convention center lies just outside of Milan’s city center. It can be reached by a convenient 25-minute subway ride.
In conjunction with the trade show, EICMA serves to promote cycling in Milan and Italy in general. Special attention has been taken to introduce all attendees to the overall goal of EICMA and its partners; simply to get more people out on bikes and make getting around on bikes more convenient. Toward that end, EICMA enlisted some big names to begin the festivities; Italy’s Minister for the Environment, Altero Matteoli; the Governor of Lombardy, Roberto Formaigoni; and the Mayor of Milan, Gabriele Albertini.
But politicians aside, I had my own big names to see, namely those of Colnago, De Rosa and Pinarello.
Continuing what has become an annual tradition, Alessandro Colnago unveiled two new Ferrari-licensed bikes: the CF4, a top-of-the line road mount and a new high-performance touring bike, the CF5.
The relationship with Ferrari, noted Colnago, is more than just a chance to produce a few especially zippy looking bikes. It also sends a clear message that Colnago, like Ferrari, is committed to pushing the envelope when it comes to innovation.
“That’s the reason why many people think that Colnago is something good for cycling,” Colnago said, “because we always try to have new products, higher quality and we push technology higher and higher.”
The CF4 is available as a frameset named the Cristallo that doesn’t carry the Ferrari logo. With the intention of keeping its name only on complete bikes with components that meet the Italian car-maker’s strict standards (read “Campagnolo”) Ferrari licenses only complete bikes. Colnago will also offer Michael Rasmussen’s Extreme-C specialty frame. The C50 will remain as Colnago’s standard pro level workhorse.
As is often the case, some of the most beautiful bikes I saw on Friday had one thing in common, they carried the name of De Rosa.
Somehow, their lines were clean yet noticeably more artistic than the others. The paint sparkled under the lights brighter than the others. It was a style that seemed to be reflected in – or from – Christiano De Rosa one of three sons of the iconic Ugo De Rosa.
Standing in front of the company’s new Dual HF, Christiano said he almost regarded this one as a work of art.
“Very nice bike for me, sorry, I like this bike,” said De Rosa.
I had to agree. The bike captured the essence of both the brand and the family behind it. It came forward in my eyes as one of the nicest pieces of rolling art at the show. Sure others had more elaborate paint, but that is where this bike stands apart it offers its beauty in its simplicity. The frame is a combination of a hydro-formed front alloy triangle and carbon rear end that seems to seamlessly carry the bikes lines.
Bigger news technologically is De Rosa’s full carbon Protos. The bike itself seems quite plain. Like many bikes at other shows, the unidirectional carbon tubes promise performance in addition to a lightweight chassis. But the kicker is that De Rosa offers this steed as a custom. Carbon is now at the stage where great artists like De Rosa can offer a custom ride with a bit of Italian flair. Now how cool is that?
Although the family has been in the business for three generations, you still get the feeling that Pinarello is still a young brand.
Now solidly in the hands of Fausto Pinarello, the company has staked a lot of its recent efforts on the Dogma, which Pinarello says is one of the stiffest frames available on the market.
The first seven pages of Pinarello’s 2006 catalog portray the Dogma, leaving no question of what is at the top of the line. But Pinarello concedes that the brand was stuck on a plateau. Fausto was happy with what he created in the Dogma and so was the Fassa Bortolo team of Alessandro Petacchi, a guy who understands the benefit of a stiff frame, but his customers wanted more. Enter the Paris FP a full carbon bike, the top end carbon frame for 2006 from Pinarello.
“We survived without carbon frames until June 2005,” said Pinarello. “We had the possibility to use other materials, aluminum, or steel, or magnesium for example. The magnesium at the same time is still our best product, the top bike for us. But the people… are always looking for something different. At the moment the most popular material is carbon fiber.”
Since Pinarello began producing carbon fiber frames the new models have become the brand’s best sellers.
Other 2005 Show CoverageEuroBike ’05EuroBike gives a peek at 2006… and beyondEuroBike, Day 2: A Sram update and a brief visit to ItalyEuroBike, Day 3: New stuff, all new stuffEuroBike: The off-road set in the courtyard