Italian cycling is undergoing as much of a renaissance as the rest of the world and, although it is one of the traditional homes of the handmade bicycle, there are fewer new frame builders willing to carry the torch than in countries like England, America or Australia.
Mattia Paganotti of Legor Cicli is one of the new school who is aware of the tradition that has gone before him and is prepared to bring it into the future.
It seems that Mattia has an intrinsic connection with the artisan builders of his homeland: his whole family have been involved with bicycle racing, two cousins of his grandma were skilled frame builders in the 40s and he traded his first frame building lesson for a repair of Gino Lissignoli’s lathe.
A lot of the tools in Mattia’s workshop came from Pietro Serena, a little-known Italian builder whose frame won Roberto Visentin the maglia rosa in the 1987 Giro d’Italia. Mattia met his wife right after his death and she bequeathed him all of his tools.
A two-year apprenticeship at the side of Tiziano Zullo also helped inspire Mattia. Zullo even augured Mattia’s marriage to his wife Franca, to which he states: “what Zullo welds can’t be divided.”
Niccolò Varanini is the latest recipient of a Legor Cicli frame, this single speed cyclocross machine. Nic had been racing ‘cross in Italy with Mattia and already owned a Legor track bike, which he raced both in the velodrome and in crits. At the last Red Hook Criterium in Milan, he finished 27th in the leading group, “an incredible result for me”, he reports.
“I like riding on the road and I like track bikes”, Nic tells us, “but what I really love is off road riding… last year I started mountain biking with a rigid steel single speed and it has been love at first sight; with that bike in September I won the single speed Italian championship.”
So Mattia made him a purpose-built SSCX weapon, powered by Rotor cranks and a Wolf Tooth ring, pushing PMP hubs held up by TRP disc brakes. “I will use it for the Single Speed Italian Cyclocross Series, which seems to be the second biggest cross championship in the world, even if it’s still unsanctioned, for Legor Cicli squadra corse.”
Head to the Legor Cicli website for more information.