Set up the year after Giovanni won the Vuelta and the Giro in 1981, Officina Battaglin produced steel road bikes for professional and recreational racers for many years before experimenting with new materials. On July 22, 2016, he turned 65 and the celebration continues with this new Collezione Speciale steel road bike.
The classic lugged frame will have a numbered, engraved plaque brazed onto it, and only 65 will be made. The first will be a size 54 to fit Giovanni himself, and the rest are now up for grabs…
Battaglin offered carbon road and mountain bikes for a while, but in the last couple years returned to their roots and dusted off the original machinery used to make their original steel frames three decades ago. Harking back to the heyday of steel bikes, this special edition frame uses Columbus SL tubing. The naming hasn’t changed, the tubes have regularly been updated, now much lighter and with thinner walls than those used in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Those tubes are then cut and milled inside Battaglin’s Italian workshop. They’re then lugged and brazed together before heading to paint, which is done in this special polished candy apple red that shows the workmanship through it.
Retail for the frame and fork is €2,800 ($3,140), available in sizes 47 through 64 in 1cm increments. Included with the frameset will be a custom Castelli pink jersey signed to the recipient by Giovanni Battaglin. Price is shipped to your door, including any taxes or import duties. Normal turnaround time for any of their frames is just 30 days, but the first of these special editions will deliver before the end of October.
Not familiar with Battaglin? Their Italian factory houses cutting and milling machines from the early 80’s when steel bikes were in much higher demand, both from racers and regular riders. From 1984 until 1994, they produced 300 steel frames per day. Then alloy bikes hit the market and demand for steel slowly waned, and then carbon fiber all but killed it. Even Battaglin started making carbon frames, albeit still in house and still in Italy, before recently returning to steel.
Their machines were designed for mass production, which allows them to resume making steel frames today with incredible precision and speed. Giovanni’s son, Alessandro, says this is a competitive advantage compared to current hand made builders for several reasons. First, it results in perfect tube lengths and angles because it’s not done one-off by hand, the machines are calibrated and pre-set to produce consistent results time and again. Second, it means they can prep the tubes much faster and in higher quantities. Third, while still hand made by artisan craftsman, the alignment and build is exact, so the bike rides as it should. Each bike is guaranteed against defects for one million miles, a warranty that’s transferable to new owners should you pass it down.
If someone wants a custom size, they can do that, too, for an upcharge. Custom paint, too, on their standard frames…not on this special edition.
And back to that special edition. The lugs are hand dipped in 19 separate baths by the same place that did their chrome plating back in the 80’s. The process isn’t automated, resulting in a thicker coating and longer lasting shine. The bike gets a 1″ steerer (naturally) and English threaded bottom bracket, but does add a touch of modernity with an internally routed rear brake cable. Head to their website to get on the order list.