Ah the Italians... they know road bicycles better than most. Their hills are topped with heritage, they can boast some of the most iconic racers in the history of the sport and, well, you could fill many many books about cycling and Italy in the 100 or so years since the sport started out.
Passoni remains faithful to the old ways of building frames, by hand. From their factory just outside Milan in Italy, Passoni build just a handful of frames a day, thus ensuring their rarity value is sky high. The company started life in the early 80s when Luciano Passoni had a dream to build the best, most luxurious bikes in the world. He recruited a custom frame builder who had been one of the first to build with titanium in the 70s.
Passoni have a soft spot for titanium although you’ll also find carbon and steel in their range of 11 bikes. Now Cyclefit in London are distributing the brand into the UK, we’ve at last been able to get our hands on an example... and what an example the Top Force W is! I feel the photos could write the words themselves... But I’ll give you a little more detail.
The Top Force is designed to be a stiff frameset, using Passoni's own specification 3AL/2.5V titanium tubing, that's ready to race. Very often titanium is seen as a material for those riders seeking a comfortable ride, but comfort isn’t the guiding principle with the Top Force; going fast is.
Cyclefit sell the frame with a Columbus Genius carbon fibre fork and headset which will set you back a cool £5,499. It’s then down to you how you would like it built up. The W part of the name stands for 'Wired' and this demo bike wears a Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 groupset. The wires are neatly routed internally to keep the aesthetics very clean.
The bike is finished with a Passoni aluminium stem (with a carbon faceplate), a carbon-fibre aero handlebar with internal cable routing, a titanium seatpin and a Selle Italia SLR saddle. The wheels are Marchisio 50mm carbon fibre tubs with Veloflex tyres. That build kit delivers a complete weight of 7.41kg (16.33lb) which is very respectable for a titanium bike. Ours has a 55cm top tube with a short 145mm head tube, so its certainly built with a racing geometry.
And how does it ride? Hold your horses - we haven't got that far yet. We’ll be finding out very soon, and we’ll let you know how we get on.
Have a look at this video that shows the making of a Passoni titanium frame.
Find out more at www.cyclefit.co.uk
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.