Photo by Bob Wilkinson

Photo by Bob Wilkinson

Renzo Formigli of Formigli Bicycles comes from a long line of racers, so it is interesting that he would take to building bikes rather than following the family tradition of racing and coaching. Though his decision to make bikes was made as a young boy, his career path was solidified when, as a young man, he was introduced to the art by Cino Cinelli himself. Today, Formigli produces aluminum, steel, and carbon framesets in his Italian factory and ships worldwide…

BIKERUMOR: What is your origin story? How did your company get its start? 

RENZO: At age eight I told my mother that when I grew up I would build bicycles. Discussions around our dinner table with my grandfather, father and brother, all semi-professional cyclists, always involved cycling as did family activities and every free weekend. I was 3 years old when I started to go to cycling races. I believe this imprinted on me the desire to build my dad and brother a bicycle that would help them win.

Renzo Formigli at 5 years with older brother Franco. Used with permission of Formigli

Renzo Formigli at 5 years with older brother Franco. Used with permission of Formigli

When I was 12, before and after school I would hang around the local bicycle shop. By listening to the mechanics and builders in the shop, I began to understand the mechanics of a bicycle. That same year I asked my father for a gift, a bicycle build kit I’d seen in a shop window. That was the first bicycle I assembled, the beginning of my dream to become a world-class bicycle builder.

My career path was set when I met Cinelli at age 21. Cino Cinelli, a legendary figure, is uniquely able to claim the three titles of champion bicycle racer, genuine manufacturer and innovator, and a master frame designer. Cinelli saw something in me and invited me to his home to discuss the theories and practices of bicycle building. Cinelli began to teach me the secrets of a master craftsman, including the step-by-step process of handcrafting steel racing frames.

BIKERUMOR: Why did you first decide to build your first bike? Who did you build it for?

RENZO: The first bike I built all by myself, I built at age 22. I remember it well because it was also the first Formigli bike that ever raced. This bike was built in steel because at that time aluminum was not used to build road frames, and carbon did not even exist as a possibility. The frame was blue with Formigli in pearl white. I built the bicycle for a cyclist who raced competitively. It performed very well in the descents. In fact, he raced the Formigli in the Futa time trial. Futa is a small mountain near Florence. This race was for many years one of the most important time trial races in Italy, and it was the first race that a Formigli bicycle was raced. I even remember the name of the cyclist, Gianclaudio Serraglini, although he did not win, he came in the top ten.

Photo by Donald Semken

Photo by Donald Semken

BIKERUMOR: How has your style changed from your first year? Are you still building what you initially set out to build?

RENZO: My style actually hasn’t changed from when I began to build frames. My intention has remained unchanged. I strive to create a frame of the highest quality and performance.
Obviously, over the years the way I work has changed, as we’ve moved from building only in steel, to using carbon as a building material. And thusly I have adapted to work in carbon using the design principles I have always used, and working to build the best frame the world has ever ridden.

Photo by Kensington Forster

Photo by Kensington Forster

BIKERUMOR: What gets you really stoked about what you do today?

RENZO: I am very excited about what I have created recently. I am proud to be one of the small group of builders who continue to build a frame completely in-house. I am proud to use 100% of the materials to build my frames from my country. And lastly, I am proud to be able to work with each individual to create for them exactly the frame they design, following the heritage of the great Italian frame builders that came before me.

Photo by Kensington Forster

Photo by Kensington Forster

BIKERUMOR: What’s the cool thing you’re bringing to the show this year?

RENZO: That’s a tough question because I have always been partial to steel. We will be bringing both the Classic lugged steel frame and the steel fillet-brazed frame. But the “coolest” I would have to say is my flagship carbon frame, The ONE, that has proven to be the highest performing road frame that I’ve ever created in my life. We are very honored to be one of only 4 manufacturers in Italy to whom Campagnolo sent their newest 2016 EPS gruppo. We are excited to present this new gruppo on a custom ONE painted in a brand new color we are offering in 2016.

BIKERUMOR: What advice would you give someone wanting to do what you do?

RENZO: My advice would be to believe in your work, your craft, and to never give up.

FormigliUSA.com

18 comments

  1. Von Kruiser on

    If I were ever to get a hand made bike, it would be something like these stunning Italian steel road bikes, simply amazing. I know the article mentioned carbon but their website was very impressive and all about carbon. These guys look like they are on their game.

    Reply
  2. Burton on

    Italian bikes have a dignity to them which many American steel bikes do not possess. American bikes have stupid, goofy names: Rock Lobster, Landshark, Sycip, etc., etc. And if they don’t have a stupid, goofy name, they’ll have some kind of stupid, goofy decal or graphic. I have two vintage Italian steel bikes and I wouldn’t trade them for anything, other than perhaps a modern Italian steel bike.

    Reply
    • Mark Ritz on

      Not sure why you would list Sycip as a “stupid, goofy name” since it’s the last name of the framebuilder. Do you feel the same way about Bruce Gordon, Mark DiNucci, Richard Sachs or many other quality US builders too numerous to mention?

      Reply
    • PsiSquared on

      Yes, dumb American names like DeSalvo, Kirk, Sachs, Waterford, Steelman, Strong, Crumpton, and many others. There’s no dignity there at all. Nope. The dignity also has nothing to do with the frame and the quality of the build. No, it’s all about the name.

      Reply
    • HDManitoba on

      Burton, you realize that “Sycip” is the last name of the builder(s) just like “Formigli” is the last name of the builder?

      Reply
    • dG on

      Hey Man, I am not American, but i moved to the US and brought my Colnago. Back in the day i wouldn’t touch an American-made bike with a 100 meter pole. Not anymore. All my bikes are American-made, including one locally made. Trashing American names might not be the best way to go, looks to me you either had a bad experience or simply doesn’t know or understand what domestic builders are capable. are italians bike awesome? YES. But so are American-made. Chill, man. We all want the same thing.

      Reply
    • nathan on

      When I think of Italian bikes I think of brands that have sold out to South East Asia but still try to cling to some “Euro” image. I’m looking at you Colnago, Bianchi, Masi, etc.

      Reply
    • AKBen on

      How is Sycip, the framebuilder’s last name, goofy? No more so than Formigli, really. I admit, I’d love to have a De Rosa or Colnago, but not because of some misdirected infatuation with a “dignified ” name.

      Reply
  3. Kernel Flickitov on

    In typical @Burton fashion; flame every single post on hand made steel frames with heavily biased broad sweeping generalizations. All it takes is a troll such as yourself to impose geographical bias and turn it into an argument rather than a discussion. Pretty “stupid” and “goofy” can apply to every single post you’ve ever made here. You have zero credibility.

    Dario Pegoretti travels to NAHBS to come see inferior, stupid, and goofy American fame builders? Wasting his time, right? Why did Bespoked UK team up with NAHBS last year, to collaborate with lesser builders with no taste or class? Ok, got it.

    Reply
    • Todd Linscott on

      Here at Torelli we have a passion for Italian steel. That is why all of our frames are handmade in Italy by artisan builders with Columbus tubes. Ironically we are an American company with Italian production. We have sold out our steel to Asia. There are many great American builders with passion, expertise and heritage as well. After all, it’s about a bike that is a beautiful to ride as look at. We support the efforts of Formigli and wish you luck at the show Renzo.

      Reply
  4. Rick Perez on

    I have a new One, with Di2 Dura Ace and Shimano’s hydraulic disc brakes and Enve wheels. It is a GREAT BIKE and draws constant attention.
    Thank you, Renzo. And thank you, Kensington.
    Rick

    Reply

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