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FAST AND BEAUTIFUL: ITALIAN BICYCLES ON THE RUN


FAST AND BEAUTIFUL: ITALIAN BICYCLES ON THE RUN Rome - (Ign) - The Giro d'Italia, Italy's national cycling event, finished a few days ago, and the Tour de France will begin soon. The large amount of people who passionately follow these events shows how popular cycling has become. But for Italians cycling does not just mean the "pink jersey" of the race winner, but is a synonym of relaxation, passion... and adventure.

The Italian bicycle is today a symbol of the latest technological research and aesthetic design. The historical producers, originating around brilliant craftsmen such as Bianchi or Colnago, have become a benchmark for the whole world, due to their technical and stylistic innovation. Colnago, in fact, has launched a partnership with Ferrari leading to a new line of bicycles with carbon fibre frames, with an attractive line designed using Formula 1 technologies. The CF line started out as a means of transport for the Ferrari team in the pit lane, but then the enthusiasm of the team's fans and the interest of buyers led to the design of an entire range of products. Colnago chose product diversification to remain competitive on all levels. While the bicycles of the medium-low range are produced in Taiwan - although the design phase will still be carried out in Italy - the top of the range products will be entirely produced in Italy. The symbolic bicycles in this company (which was one of the first to produce bicycles in Italy) - the President, the C50, the Dream and the E-1 - are still considered products of the "craftsmen of Cambiago".

Atala also produces bicycles at the top end of the market in Italy, where marketing, sales, research and development, logistics and production planning have remained. The new Atala produces bicycles (around 60% of its turnover) but also accessories and spare parts (25%). The remaining part of the turnover, around 15%, regards exercise bikes for home fitness. Among recent initiatives we should mention the relaunch of an historic brand, Maino, and programmes aimed at promoting the elite brand Dei, which dates back to far off 1896.

The Cicleo, named in homage to a brilliant design by Leonardo Da Vinci, has a frame with two identical cast modules which can be connected in a variety of positions, to form both the men's and women's models. This expedient makes it possible to have a single production line which, without further soldering, can produce two distinct models. Fioravanti, (www.fioravanti.it), known above all in the car market, has launched itself in the bicycle market with an innovative model with a flexible frame. Among the youngest and most interesting models there stands out that of Merlani, which has designed new bicycle model in titanium and titanium-carbon under the Mathitec brand.

In this overview of the Italian two-wheel world, a place is surely deserved for Bianchi (www.bianchi.it), with 12 Giri d'Italia, three Tours de France and an Olympic gold medal in Athens in 2004 to its name. And these are just some of the prizes that the historic Lombard bicycle producer established in 1885 has won. In the 2005 edition of the Giro d'Italia, the Bianchi team won a number of sections and set the pace a great number of times during the event. A more recent piece of news regards the partnership between Bianchi and Ducati, the motorcycle producers established in Bologna in 1926. The two companies have designed a range of bicycles and technical clothing and accessories, such as helmets and water bottles. The bicycles will be produced by Bianchi and will cost between €1000 and €5000 each, with models for all tastes, from those for the city to mountain bikes and road bikes. The colours will be those of the company from Bologna - red, yellow and black - with frames in carbon, aluminium and other alloys developed by both Ducati and Bianchi. To see the results of this collaboration you will have to wait for Eurobike, the bicycle will to be held in Germany in September. Davide Brambilla, managing director of Bianchi, has declared that the partnership with Ducati will last for "at least four years" and that the choice of also producing clothing is another "important step forward" also resulting from the success of the partnership with Emporio Armani, which had led to a fashion line of bicycles.

It is not difficult to imagine that this may be the future of the sector of Italian bicycles: greater technology and greater attention also to aesthetics will permit Italian brands to acquire even greater world leadership.
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