To Milan for the annual festival of cycling and motorbikes that is EICMA or the Milan bike show as we call it in these parts. Half a million people trooped through the halls this year… and truth be told most of them were motorcyclists, but there were some cycling gems on show too as you can see from our mighty gallery of pictures
As a bonus, or maybe to make up the numbers the show also had a display of bikes from the Madona del Ghisallo cycling museum with machines ridden by legends such as Merckx, Moser, Bugno and Bartali… we'll be covering that bit in a separate story though. In the meantime let's look at some machines of a newer vintage.
All the big names were in Milan, Colnago, Pinarello, Cinelli, De Rosa some we'd seen at Eurobike and the London Show, even so the matt black Colnago M10 deserves more than a tip of the hat for its combination of style and attention to detail. Essentially this is an evolution of Colnago's CX-1 monocoque intended to be both lighter and laterally stiffer.
The M10 was perhaps unfairly overshadowed at its Eurobike launch by the lugged C59 which debuted at the same time. In many respects though the M10 is the more technically advanced machine – it's a monocoque for a start, well the front triangle is and, unlike most other Colnagos it features a tapered headtube and running Colnago's HS1 headset, also used by the EPS. Colnago say the M10 is "designed to be precise on the descents and smoother through the corners." It certainly looked smooth in Milan and we'd definitely like to compare one to the C59 currently in on test.
Another looker, and on looks alone my favourite bike of the show was the Cinelli Pro Best Of… which should also get some sort of prize for off the wall naming. For 2011 Cinelli have completely uprated the Pro Best Of frame in comes a tapered head tube – 1 1/8 running to an 1 1/2, it gets a new rear triangle too - Cinelli aren't going down the asymmetrical route here either - those stays are dead straight… well, who wants wiggly lines when you can have straight ones.
Cinelli reckon it melds the full on raciness of their Strato with the more Gran Fondo oriented Estrada to give, we presume, a comfy race bike. Sounds similar to Wilier's Gran Turismo in that respect.
Passoni flew the flag for high end Titanium with their Top Force Wired - basically their Top Force frame but built to take internal cable routing for Shimano Di2. Light, fast, and very stiff is the mantra here and you certainly can't imagine those oversized titanium tubes flexing too much laterally… or vertically come to that.
Of the other Italian marques faves like the Carrera Phibra and the MCipollini were distinctively different and effortlessly high end but there were also a mass of bikes that were at first glance at least much of a muchness from the likes of Scapin, FRW, and Rossin, all in varying combinations of red and white.
Last year Rossin had a stand full of head turning genre-bending bikes. This time out their sole representative was the Ghibli Di2 a high end carbon affair, named after one of the original company's top models and sporting suitably high end Shimano kit… well it was on the Shimano stand. Aside from it's elegantly curved seatsaty Scapin's Fazer looked pretty darn similar to the Rossin Ghibli… maybe that's why they'd put Bottechia's Emme 2 in between 'em.
Star of the stand and pretty much the whole show, well from a cycling perspective, had to be the Montante for Maserati 8CTF fixed/singlespeed. Finished in a fiendishly difficult to photograph oxtail or is it burgundy? No, actually it's Maserati's trad racing colour - cabernet sauvignon. The 8CTF is a limited edition run of 200 bikes built to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Wilbur Smith's win at the Indy 500 driving a Maserati – Smith did 200 laps hence the number of bikes in the edition.
The frame is made from Columbus chromoly steel and while it features a chromed seat lug, the rest of it is welded, in fact that seat lug is probably more decorative than structural. Either way it is a very lovely looking frame with sweepingly curved seatstays (something Italian makers seem to love whatever material they are working in) matched to a cunningly kinked seat tube - both are to increase rider comfort say Montante.
Aside from the colour the frame features a number of other nods to Maserati – the badge on the headtube is a replica of the Maserati one and the "Boyle SPL" picked out in chrome is the name of the Indy 500 winning car itself a tribute to the American businessman who sponsored Maserati's racing team in the US while Maserati's trident logo adorns the hub. That rear hub can run fixed or free while the front hub plugs in to a beautifully straight bladed steel fork. Did I mention the fork is asymmetric? Well it is. The leg on the disc side running slightly behind that on the driveside, but it's also shorter and ends in a CNC steel dropout. The idea is to minimise the torsional stress generated by the mechanical disc brake mounted on the left side of the hub.
Much of the rest of the finishing kit is Montante branded, and they do make a lot of it in-house, although that saddle look like a Rolls to us. Colour co-ordinated leather is much in evidence on the grips, saddle and the toe straps. Other neat touches are the tricolore wear indicators on the deep section aluminium rims - shades of the new Zipp 101s there and the colour co-ordinated chain. €3000 gets you a numbered Maserati 8CTF bike in a choice of either small, medium, or large.
I have seen the future… and it would seem to involve having somewhere to carry your umbrella on your bike, plus acres of color-co-ordinated leather. The bikes may be pretty diverse on the Montante stand but whatever the model the poor cow still gets it. And nowhere more emphatically than on what we take to be the 2011 version of the Vintage Fattorino - which balances the best part of a whole cow on the front rack in the form of an enormous leather bag, there rest of the poor beast follows behind as to pannier bags and the obligatory umbrella holder, saddle cover, oh and a leather wrapped cable lock.
On first seeing it we had this bike down as a tourer, (well, Montante do like to play with the form and all that) but actually it's probably more of a cargo bike for lugging loads around town in style - those Schwalbe Fat Frank tyres would certainly take care of any bumps you might encounter on the road.
Montante don't put the model names on their bikes and they don't clutter their stand up with anything like info so it's pretty hard to say what is what, but other bikes to catch our eye included what might have been the latest version of the Giro d'Italia, featuring down tube shifters, rod pull coaster brakes, an Italian tricolore chain and the inevitable leather umbrella holder.
We also liked what appeared to be a new range of his and hers bikes in orange that featured short chainguards and oddly shortened mudguards - well short at the top and long at the bottom, not sure if they simply hadn't put them on the wrong way around (there were a couple of bikes on top of their stand that appeared to have "thinking right outside the box" wrong way around handlebars, but I'm sure Montante and a couple of other Italian manufacturers pulled that stunt last year). And the mudguards had a mighty amount of clearance around them too.
Other highlights included a fat tyred, urban crosser style fixed with a front disc brake that certainly caught the attention even if it didn't impress TR too much, the carbon folder we saw last year, and a stylish tandem complete with newspaper holder (just what you need when you're out two up) it would be fair to say Montante had scaled back on the newspaper holders for 2011… maybe one too many experience with a soggy La Stamp was what swung them around to umbrella holders - these should be cropping up in our coming soon Milan Show vids.
Okay, Montante are different, elegant and stylish but they're not that different. This lot though are different with a capital D. I-Zero (uncconventionalcitybike is the company tag line) had to models of what the were calling the CarCityBike one a fully fared concept bike the other a more stripped down version of the same thing - from what we could understand was pretty much ready to go now for €600 without the basket. That money would buy you a three wheeler with twin headlights and rack and pinion style steering at the front. It looks like it should have an electric motor and indeed the stripped down version had a dummy batter pack on the back. I-Zero tout it's advantages as an agile city bike that can be used by disabled riders too.
In some repsects that two wheeled front end means it isn't massively dissimilar to some of the load carrying tricycles Pashley make - it certainly looks capable of carrying some big loads. All up weight for the basic version is a claimed 25Kg and it is aimed at both the Italian and northern European markets - countries that already have well developed cycling infrastructure, with likely customers being courier firms and logistics companies and people that want something to replace the car for short urban trips where a car may be impracticable - certainly that's the market the very much more car-like concept version with front cargo hold cum fairing, windscreen, and rain cover.
As you'd imagine the legendary Italian motorcycle marque Ducati were at the show in force. They've dabbled in bicycles over the last few years, most notably on a range of high end machines produced with Bianchi. Then they ditched that in favour of electric bikes… they had a stand full of them last year at Eurobike, but they weren't allowing photos dunno why, there new e-bike isn't THAT ugly and it does have a nice saddle.
Urban bikes of a more conventional could be found on the Create and JiKong Dark Horse stands - the latter particularly caught our eye with their range of steel urban singlespeed and road bikes. Stand out models were a triple butted, lugged steel road bike decked out in Campag Athena and a red singlespeed with curved top and seat tube.
There was also a very nice looking mixte singlespeed with a split top tube. Essentially this was a trade stand for a Far Eastern factory showing what it could do - maybe they weren't totally up to speed on the whole singlespeed thing though, a very handsome polished steel bike was had its screw on cable guides on the wrong way around so you'd snag your thigh on 'em if you were riding it… mind you, those guides fed the cable to the bikes only brake - a back one. Maybe it was some kind of reaction to Montante's front disc only craziness. It was that kind of show
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.