There is a growing fascination with Steel and Vintage Steel. Having reflected on why this resurgence is happening, we think the answer is multi-faceted, with one thing for certain – once you ride vintage steel, it takes a small hold of you and there is no looking back.
Firstly, Steel is eternal. The bikes of yesteryear seem to last forever, being somewhat indestructible. Riding machines built in the 1920s and through to the 80s, allow you to feel the joy of riding, of owning something that is a piece of history and similar to what the icons of the sport used; the Legnano’s of Bartali, the Bianchi’s of Coppi, Merckx with De Rosa and Colnago, and the list goes on.
The brands and the frame builders of the past had a story, they were artists who had a following. A rider may have been on a team riding X brand of bike but would still go to his preferred frame builder to have it built his way, and then painted in the team colours and decals. The likes of Pogliaghi, Serena, Ugo De Rosa, Umberto Mascheroni, Carlo and Mario Monti, and the Volta brothers were men who always had riders at their door wanting the art and the skill that they were renowned for.
These bikes were made first and foremost with the rider in mind, with every element being custom, unlike today where mass production seems to come before the rider’s experience. Bikes are now being pushed out in their 1000s day after day, all in black, all the same, with no soul and no story.
However, there are still a few builders and brands adhering to the approach of frame building as art, with the likes of Pegoretti, Formigli, Stelbel and Legend by Bertoletti, to name a few.
There is also the ride quality with steel and an assuredness you feel when descending. And let’s not forget its quietness allowing you roll up and over hills like a ghost, with nothing but the sounds of the landscape to keep you company and draw you back to nature.
Last Saturday, we collected a beautiful mid 80s Tomassini at L’Eroica Montalcino in Tuscany. This was an absolute pleasure to ride. Coasting down the twists and turns from Montalcino with just the wind rushing by, was pure joy. It was impossible to keep the smile away.
If you’d like to know more about the pinnacle of riding vintage steel click here.