The Giro D’Italia reaches its climax in Milan this weekend with two lancashire born riders in the top 5. We follow on from part 1 last week, as we continue to appreciate the volume and variety of bikes and associated products heralding from Italy. Aside from some outsourcing of manufacture, these companies are 100% Italian and the cornerstone of road racing around the world. Forza Italia!
The northern industrial heartlands of Italy are home to an amazing amount of Cycling produce. The map below shows Colnago, DeRosa, Gios, Kask, Selle Italia and MET.
Colnago (Cambiago, Italy)
One of the most recognisable and historic brands in road cycling, Colnago have had a long and illustrious history. Providing the bikes to UAE Team Emirates, and Tadej Pogacar winning the 2020 Tour De France in dramatic style, again thrust Colnago back into the gaze of cycling fans all around the world. From humble beginings working in a bike shop near Milan, following the end of his bike racing career shortened through injury, Ernesto Colnago soon started making steel bike frames and building his empire. In mid 1990s the carbon fibre Colnago C40 began its domination of bike racing, the latest version, the C64, is still hand made and painted in Italy. Colnago remains the brand of choice for many cyclists around the world.
De Rosa Cusano (Milan, Italy)
The 1950s in Italy were a time of regeneration and the early growth of some of the biggest and best names in Cycling, amongst those were De Rosa. A true artisan bike builder, Ugo DeRosa started and led his family run company as it developed, they made frames in steel ,titanium and carbon fibre. DeRosa bikes have been back on the world stage in recent times, sponsoring the French Cofidis Team. Today’s De Rosa bikes have the same classic Italian design flare and attention to detail as they always had.
Gios (Torino, Italy)
Gios is another iconic cycling company which developed with strength following the Second World War. Tolmino Gios started the family run brand and was joined by his son Alfredo in 1948. Gios had steady growth until a collaboration with chewing gum manufacturer, Brooklyn, in the 1970s, gave the brand to much wider recognition. Gios supplied the blue bikes for the Brooklyn professional team. The team featured Roger De Vlaeminck, their star rider, who was a legendary 4 times Paris Roubaix winner, featuring heavily in the iconic 1976 film, ‘A Sunday in Hell’. The emotive blue colour is still present in the Gios range.
Kask (Chiuduno, Italy)
Kask began producing helmets in 2004, a baby in relative terms, compared to the more established Italian cycling brands. Kask was formed around a talented group of engineers, experts in the latest materials and manufacturing techniques. As well as cycling helmets, Kask produce safety helmets for industry as well as other sports such as horse riding and mountaineering. Kask has enjoyed a long association with Team Sky / Ineos Grenadiers, since the team’s inception in 2010. The team’s association has helped Kask’s development at the highest level and within all genres of cycling.
Selle Italia (Asolo, Italy)
When it comes to Italian brands which have dominated over time, Selle Italia is at the top of the tree. Since 1897, they have produced saddles for bike riders. That’s almost 125 years! In the early days, bicycles were the means of transport for the masses and Selle Italia catered for the everyday people who rode bikes. The shift towards sports saddles came about in the 1970s; the company’s new owners embraced new technologies and pushed to be the market leader in high-end saddles for recreation and sport. If you were into road bikes in the 1980s, you may well have sat on a ‘Turbo’ saddle, if rode in the 1990s, you could well have had a ‘Flite’ saddle. Selle Italia’s use of the latest materials and manufacturing techniques ensure they will provide a comfy saddle for many more riders well into the future.
MET (Talamona, Italy)
Helmet manufacturer MET produces some striking looking helmets and have been at the forefront of the helmet industry for nearly 35 years. The name MET, (part of the word hel’met’) has been on the heads of the worlds top riders from the 1990s onwards. The company started when Massimiliano Gaiatto and Lucianna Sala left shoe manufacturer Brancale. They started MET just as the old ‘hairnet’ helmets were heading towards the parts bin of history and new, hardshell helmets were seen as the future. With striking designs for road and off road riding, MET remains a popular choice for everyday riders and Tour De France winners alike.
The quantity and depth of bike and parts manufacture in Italy is huge, probably best highlighted by the other Italian brands not mentioned…
Bianchi, Fizik, Pinarello, Cinelli, Sarto, Pirelli, Cipollini, Scapin, Fondriest, Olmo, Scapin… The list goes on