For a change, I decided to take a ride out on my S&S coupled Richard Sachs travel bike which is my "go to" events ride when I have to use the train. In Italy you can only bring a bike on board on certain trains so with my Sachs in a small case I can take any train plus the fast and comfortable EuroStar trains.
I stopped by the Ca' Vendri (http://www.villacavendri.it/) to take some photographs and then headed off for a visit to the Grandis shop (a complex more than a bike shop). While I was speaking with Lorenza, granddaughter of founder Silvano Grandis, Ezio, son of the founder, sought me out to talk to my about the Richard Sachs.
I've met Ezio several times and I know that although he now sells probably 98% carbon bikes he is very passionate about steel, and building in steel. So, he grabs me and says, in Italian, " This bike....there is no sense in even it discussing it with 99% of the people...they wouldn't understand...it's from another world." He spent 20 minutes with me discussing the superb workmanship, the lugwork, how the the fork was constructed, the amount of hours of labor that it takes to make, and on and on. He hadn't heard of Richard Sachs and was shocked to learn that the wait list for a Richard Sachs is 6 years (http://www.richardsachs.com/). Ezio Grandis knows what he is talking about as you can see based on his own work:
His eyes got bigger when I told him about the North American Handmade Bike Show (www.handmadebicycleshow.com/2008/), he had no idea that there was that level of interest in such things anymore. Then he rolls my Richard Sachs into another part of Grandis it to show his brother, Mario Grandis, who is painting a frame. Everything comes to a stop and more oooohs and ahhhs.
As I've said in earlier blogs, Italians riders have moved to carbon frames at light speed. At the moment there isn't much interest in steel. You might be asking yourself, "What about Dario Pegoretti?". Dario hails from Verona and he's told me that 80%+ of his frame output goes to the USA and very little to Italy. In fact, although Dario now builds in nearby Trento, I've only seen three Pegoretti's in 3 years.