Yes, Martha, they still make Italian bikes in Italy
China’s vast carbon manufacturing capability has swallowed up the entire performance bike market, spitting out mass-market Specialized and Treks of numbing sameness (to say nothing of Asian-assembled Colnagos and Orbeas). Europhiles, fear not. For a few top-flight Italian bikes are still made in Italy. Among them is Fondriest.
Started by 1988 World Road Champion Maurizio Fondriest in the early 1990s, Fondriest’s early bikes were best known for steel construction and wild paint schemes. Post Y2K, Fondriest – like everyone else – began to embrace carbon construction. Today, Fondriest offers a full-line of performance road bikes, from the top-of-the-line, made-in-Italy TFZero to the designed-in-Italy-but-laid-up-in-Asia TF2, TF3 (featured on Bike Hugger last year), new TF4 and R20.
For 2014, though, Fondriest has added another Italian-made model, the TF1 1.4. Three years in development, the TF1 1.4 is an evolutionary design based on the flagship TFZero, featuring improved lines and a more aerodynamic tubeset. Like the TFZero, the TF1 uses butted-tube construction with UD carbon. Like its TFZero sibling, the TF1 is lightweight and stiff. Both are wicked-fast race machines.
In addition to its wind tunnel R&D, the TF1 1.4 is what Fondriest calls a “hybrid” frame, adaptable to both manual and electronic gruppos. It is available in seven sizes or can be entirely handmade to the customer’s measurements. In Italy, of course.
Other design touches include tapered head-tube (1 1/8” to 1 1/2”); monolithic carbon rear and front dropouts; integrated internal cable routing; pressfit bottom bracket without external caps, direct-mount front derailleur, and ultra-thin seat stays for less weight and smoother ride.
While the TF2 and TF3 feature swoopy monocoque carbon construction, the butted-tubed TF1 presents a more purposeful, utilitarian aesthetic. That purposefulness is bolstered by the frame’s extreme lightweight: A medium frame weights a lithe 795 grams; the fork is a mere 360 grams. Building a sub-14 pound TF1 is not out of the question.
The Fondriest TF1 1.4 – available in two colors, Matt Carbon and Carbon Red – comes complete with frame, fork, headset, and seat tube. MSRP for the frame set is $3,900. Available through importer Albabici.
Bike Hugger already is angling to get our hands on one for a lengthy test ride in 14. Stay tuned.
More photos of the TF1 1.4 are on G+ and Flickr.