Monday, February 25, 2013

CRISP Titanium & Campagnolo 80th Anniversary Gruppo

 Perhaps less noticed in the photographs available of the Campagnolo 80th gruppo is the one of a fully complete bicycle, a photo in which the name of the frame doesn't leap out at you. The frame was made by Darren Crisp of CRISP Titanium. I first met Darren in 2007 (had I been smart I would have bought a frame from him then).

Darren is an American that lives in work Castiglion Fiorentino (AR). In Darren's words, "Why Italy? I studied architecture back in 1990 here in Castiglion Fiorentino. It is a wonderful place to live and is very conducive to creativity, and the culture is very stimulating, coming from conservative Texas. The first time I came here, I knew immediately that there was something here to “discover” about this ancient and mysterious place. Medieval walled towns, Etruscan ruins…and great food and obviously great cycling. I came back after finishing my degree in architecture to race bikes here in Tuscany. Coming from the Texas plains, the hills of this region were a welcome change and offered me new places to explore on both the road bike and the mtb. Using my architecture degree to the max, I washed dishes in the local school for almost two years to afford me the possibility to learn the language and to race throughout the country. I had an accident on the mtb in 1994 and had to move back stateside for insurance and medical reasons and got back into metal fabrication in Mississippi. But the fire was lit, and it was only a matter of time before I was back over to Italy and back on the bike, in the shop, and building." Read the rest of his story here on ICJ.

I reached out to Darren once again to ask how his frame came to be chosen for the launch of the Campagnolo 80th anniversary gruppo. His answer:

"I was contacted about a month ago, out of the blue, by Campagnolo. Their VP of Marketing who was a former Marketing guru for Pinarello reached out to me with an email. I was in disbelief when it arrived. The had tried to contact me via telephone unsuccessfully. When I work, the phone gets switched to voice mail so I can work uninterrupted. An email arrived shortly thereafter describing a “very important” project that Campagnolo was working on. They were very interested in discussing the project with me and I was asked to give them a call back. I was thinking to myself, “what could they be interested in a little guy like me for? Titanium components? A display frame for a trade show?” Well, I got on the horn and the project was revealed in detail.

I was asked if I had a bike/frame that I could send them for the 80th Anniversary campaign. I was fortunate enough to have a bike in the shop that I had dedicated to display for my walk-in clients. It is the Bristol Road Bike, aka Trebbiano Silk Ti (you can see it here). I usually don’t have frames or bikes lying around as they get snapped up as soon as they are finished. After 10 years of not having a display bike, I figured it was time to keep on in the house. Boy was I glad I made that decision :-).

I broke down the frame and the next day it was sent out to Campy with some parts that I had on hand: Unpainted Enve fork, Enve bars and seatpost and some other bits. The rest is Campagnolo goodness.

A few weeks later I started getting compliments from distributors from around the world, USA, Malasia, Hong Kong, The Netherlands… I didn’t realize that the distributors had received advance private pdf’s of the new Gruppo, but it was obvious that something was circulating. Campy was nice enough to send me the hi-res photos and a video is in post-production right now of the build and photo shoot. As soon as that is passed along to me, I will post it and you can have a look at the whole process from inside the gates of Campagnolo. They are very excited about it and I can’t wait to see that, too.

I hope that gives you some insight into the process. It was a real exciting moment for me and I am humbled and grateful that Campagnolo took the time to consider a small artisan like myself. Pure emotional bliss for a framebuilder."

You can see some unpublished photos of the bike here on my portfolio; one of those photos:

I will have some more photos coming soon and the video. Thanks for keeping up with my work and continued success with The Italian Cycling Journal!!"

More information about Darren and his framebuilding at

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Stories for the Italian Cycling Journal about rides, granfondos, touring, having a good time cycling in Italy, Italian cycling history, racing, etc. are always welcome. Contact me at  There are now more than 2,700 stories in this blog. The search feature to the right works best for finding subjects in the blog. There is also a translate button at the bottom so you can translate each page.

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