The reinstatement of the Stelbel brand is a triumph for both classic cycling fans and fans of the modern steel racing bike. But there is one person who would be positively thrilled to see the new range of bikes from the Italian marque, and that is Stelio Belletti himself.
This is the Stelbel Ortica, the track model from the reinvigorated range, and it’s on a special mission: Marco from Italy’s 10cento Bike Club will be competing upon it in the next Red Hook Crit races in Barcelona and Milano, where it will prove its Italian racing heritage.
Stelio had a voracious appetite for solving engineering problems — indeed, his characteristic TIG-welded frame originated from his dissatisfaction with the available lugged offerings. He and his father, Antenore, a legendary mechanic, set out to create something better.
This was back in the early seventies. Create something better the Belletti men did. TIG-welded bike frames had not been seen before, and it caused a stir in Italy. The TIGged frame was patented in 1975 and the Polish national cycling team were the first customers.
That same year, the team secured the win in the team time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Belgium, and Stelbel bicycles were on the map. They were known by their refined TIG-welded frames, sculpted details and individual designs.
Stelbel lasted until 1990 before being forced to close their doors by external causes but were reopened in 2013 by Italy’s Cicli Corsa, who have taken the company in a new direction but one that Stelio would’ve taken himself — which a look through the new range will prove.
The Ortica has a carbon fork up front, piloted by a fully integrated 46mm head tube. The chain stays and dropouts are the same design you’d find on an original Stelbel. Custom double and-triple butted Columbus Tubi has been used throughout the frame.
It will prove to be a formidable contender at the infamous Red Hook Crit races, which require sharp geometry and solid construction for the bikes and a steely focus for the riders — both ingredients the team of Marco and his Stelbel Ortica have in spades. Big thanks to Simone Spedicato for the photography.