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Hand-made in Italy, the Passoni Titanio Classica Disco is a stunningly beautiful frameset to look at, and even to touch, but more importantly it's absolutely wonderful to ride. This frameset is firm, fast and beautifully responsive with an awesome ride quality to boot, and such quality doesn't come cheap, the depth and personalisation of the frame's build process means it's money well spent.
Usually I'd kick off with how the Titanio Classica is to ride, but in this instance, I think it'd be beneficial to give you a bit of background on Passoni, the Titanio Classica Disco itself, and what you're getting if you are lucky enough to be considering a frameset of this quality.
Passoni is based just outside Milan and produces around 400 frames a year in its own factory. The majority are completely custom-made and, while titanium is by far the most common material, it also builds in carbon fibre and steel. As many of the components and materials are sourced from within Italy as they can manage.
While Passoni offers a small selection of off-the-shelf framesets, the majority of its models are made-to-measure, as is the case with this Titanio Classica Disco. You can order either through Passoni's small number of UK dealers or the configurator on the website, which kicks off with a short questionnaire about your cycling style to help pin down the best geometry and sizing.
After this you can specify your build, choose your frame finish and even have it painted, so what you end up with is bike designed, built and finished exactly to your specification.
As you've probably already guessed this review frameset isn't created to my specific geometry – it's a demo model – but I'm someone who can adapt to pretty much any geometry as long as the top tube isn't too long or short for me. It's very close to what I'd spec, though.
I've ridden a lot of titanium bikes recently, and the first thing I noticed about the Titanio Classica is that it has quite a firm ride. That's no great surprise when you look at the tube profiles, which are a little chunkier than some, especially in the seat tube and the seatstays. They're not as slender as many.
This is a performance road bike though, so it's great that Passoni has focused on stiffness and power delivery over all-out comfort. Titanium's naturally smooth characteristics allow for a frame to be on the stiff side without ruining the overall ride quality though, and with the possibility of running 32mm tyres, that can be exploited even further.
Frame stiffness is very impressive when you consider that the bottom bracket area isn't as massively overbuilt as on some carbon fibre race machines, and there certainly aren't any issues with frame flex when you're putting the power through the pedals.
This means the Passoni is a capable and responsive sprinter and climber, as well as being a comfortable mile muncher. It's a cracking all-rounder to be honest, a fast bike that hasn't been pigeon-holed into any specific role and – at 8.14kg in this build – it's relatively light too for a metal bike.
Exactly how your bike handles will depend on the geometry you select, but the bike we have here is definitely a lot of fun in the bends.
With an oversized, tapered head tube and solid-feeling carbon fibre fork, the front end feels tight and flex-free. It allows you to push it hard into the bends, and there is no feeling of flex from the fork legs under hard braking either.
In fact, the whole bike feels very planted, and it passed the technical sections of my downhill test route with flying colours.
Regardless of geometry, one thing that makes the Passoni a joy to descend on is that ride quality. With just enough damping in the frame and fork to stop any irritating high frequency vibration, it keeps feedback at a high level to connect you with what the bike is up to. You can just let the Classico fly on the faster sections.
If you want a bike for club rides, sportives and longer rides at the weekend, but still want it to be capable of getting a wriggle on when you ask, you can't go far wrong with the Passoni.
Passoni builds its frames from triple-butted tubing in 3Al/2.5V (3% aluminium/2.5% vanadium) titanium alloy, though some parts are 6Al/4V. They're welded in pressurised chambers using a special mixture of gases that is, it seems, a closely-guarded secret.
Frames are available in a range of finishes: sandblasted with anodised graphics, a machined satin with the graphics created by masking and sandblasting, or 'glazed by hand.' That last option is what we have here: all tubes and welds are polished by hand, before the graphics are sandblasted.
It's a stunning finish that takes a whopping 35 hours to achieve on this Classica Disco, and adds £850 +VAT to the price.
That smooth finish works well with this frame as, even though the cables and hoses aren't hidden via the head tube, it has a very minimalistic and elegant look. The integrated headset keeps the transition to the carbon fibre Columbus fork pretty much seamless.
At the down tube there's some internal cable/wire/hose routing, and you get a couple of traditionally-placed bottle cage mounts.
You'll also find a threaded bottom bracket down there.
This is the bit where I'd normally go into the sizing and geometry, but as this is a made to measure frame it's all kind of irrelevant. The only other thing to mention here is that the Titanio Classica is available in a rim braked version too.
The Classica Disco's frame kit (frame, fork, headset & bottom bracket) starts at £6,200 with the sandblasted finish. Given the custom geometry that isn't too excessive; the off-the-shelf Moots Vamoots Disc RSL frameset, for instance, has an RRP around £6,500.
This polished Passoni frame kit costs £7,220.
The custom geometry, UK handbuilt Enigma Eikon starts at £4,099 for the frame only, or £5,947 with a carbon fork and headset plus stem and handlebar. It's not a bike we've ridden yet, but Enigma did bring one to the office the other day and it looked stunning. Keep an eye out for that on the site very soon.
It'd be easy to make this whole review about the cost, but if you're looking for a custom-geometry, hand-built titanium road bike, you've arguably gone way beyond simple utitlity into the realm of 'luxury' products anyway. The experience of designing and speccing your own individual bike (and its exquisite finishing) is part of what you're paying for, and something that makes collection day even more exciting.
For the money you're getting an exceptionally well finished frame and, even though this particular bike hasn't been designed specifically for me, I found it one that rides very well indeed. The geometry finds a great balance of speed and control, and that makes it a great bike for covering many miles efficiently regardless of your riding style. The underlying titanium smoothness makes it a very pleasurable ride.
Firm and fast yet comfortable titanium road bike, created with stunning craftmanship
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Passoni Titanio Classica Disco Frameset
Size tested: 555mm
About the bike
List the components used to build up the bike.
The frame kit consists of:
Columbus carbon fork
Tell us what the bike is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about the bike?
Passoni says, "Titanio Classica Disco is the perfect mix between vintage cycling and the most modern technologies. The result is a timeless titanium bike."
It is an elegant looking frame with that classic, traditional look, albiet with disc brakes.
Where does this model sit in the range? Tell us briefly about the cheaper options and the more expensive options
Being custom built the amount of options are massive. This frame has the top level polished finish though.
Frame and fork
Tell us about the build quality and finish of the frame and fork?
This frame and fork is finished to a very high quality.
Tell us about the materials used in the frame and fork?
The frame uses titanium alloy tubing, while the fork is full carbon fibre.
Tell us about the geometry of the frame and fork?
The geometry on a Titanio Classica Disco is completely custom.
Riding the bike
Was the bike comfortable to ride? Tell us how you felt about the ride quality.
Comfort is good for such a firm-riding frame.
Did the bike feel stiff in the right places? Did any part of the bike feel too stiff or too flexible?
This bike feels very stiff indeed, especially in the lower half where it needs to be.
How did the bike transfer power? Did it feel efficient?
Power transfer is great thanks to the stiffness.
Was there any toe-clip overlap with the front wheel? If so was it a problem?
How would you describe the steering? Was it lively neutral or unresponsive? Responsive.
Tell us some more about the handling. How did the bike feel overall? Did it do particular things well or badly?
The Classica's steering feels very balanced, which means it's quick enough to tackle technical corners at speed without feeling like a handful.
Wheels and tyres
Did you enjoy riding the bike? Yes
Would you consider buying the bike? I can dream...
Would you recommend the bike to a friend? Yes
How does the price compare to that of similar bikes in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
Considering this is a custom-geometry frame, the price stacks up well. It's a bit pricier than Enigma's offering, but not by a huge amount. It's cheaper than an off-the-shelf Moots, though.
Use this box to explain your overall score
As I say in the conclusion, it's best not to get too hung up on price here as we're into 'luxury' territory; you are paying for the whole experience of Passoni ownership. What you're also getting alongside the custom geoemetry is an excellently-built frame and a stunning ride quality despite the firmness. This is a very good bike indeed.
About the tester
I usually ride: This month's test bike My best bike is: B'Twin Ultra CF draped in the latest bling test components
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: time trialling, commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,
As part of the Tech Hub here at F-At Digital, our senior product reviewer Stu uses the knowledge gained from putting well over a 1,000 products through their paces (including hundreds of bikes) to write in-depth reviews of a huge range of kit. After first throwing his leg over a race bike back in 2000, Stu's ridden more than 160,000 miles on road, time-trial, track, and gravel bikes, and while he's put his racing days behind him he still likes to smash the pedals rather than take things easy. Although, as he spends a fair bit of his time reviewing ebikes these days he's becoming an expert in letting the motor take the strain. He's also waiting for 23mm race tyres to make a comeback!