The head tube of Ugo De Rosa is emblazoned with a big heart, symbolizing the passion that he imbues into his frames. For over sixty years Ugo and, more recently, his sons, have been producing bicycles of the high standard that Italy is famous for, ridden to victory by some of the biggest names in the sport. Today, the current range is headlined by carbon frames but it was Ugo’s steel frames that made him famous, like this one, captured by Milan’s Officine Sfera.
De Rosa is famous for their custom frame program, whether they are constructed from carbon fiber, titanium or steel. It is this personal attention that gave Ugo the impulse to open his own shop in Milan in 1952. After supplying numerous amateur teams with frames, Ugo had the opportunity to provide Raphael Geminiani with a bike after the French champion had arrived at the Vigorelli Velodrome without his own equipment and was subsequently invited to accompany Geminiani as his mechanic.
Although there were numerous riders winning races aboard a De Rosa during the sixties and seventies, the most famous, and most profitable, was Eddy Merckx. Merckx often subjected Ugo to his exacting specifications—sometimes requesting five frames with minor variations in geometry before choosing the first. Interestingly, it was Ugo De Rosa that taught Merckx the art of the handmade steel bicycle, before the “the most accomplished rider that cycling has ever known” opened his own factory.
This De Rosa model, constructed from Columbus SLX tubing, dates from 1985 and was found in remarkably good condition. Officine Sfera, a group of cycling enthusiasts with as much passion for beautiful bikes as Ugo himself, are in the business of researching and restoring classic Italian racing bicycles—although not much work was needed here. It’s built up with a mix of Campagnolo’s Super Record and C-Record, with a pantographed stem and a matching pump.
Officine Sfera also focus on photographing their subjects with an eye for the details only noticed by cyclists themselves. Enjoy the full set of images from this shoot on their Flickr set and for more information, head to their superb website.