I’m standing in an unassuming industrial estate on the outskirts of Monza, near Milan, Italy, outside an aged white building that leaves very few clues as to the activity that goes on inside. Aside from the two-wheel logo that sits atop the entrance, there’s nothing that says bicycles at all, let alone a manufacturer of such high esteem. That is, of course, until you step inside.
Having recently visited Specialized’s headquarters in Morgan Hill, California, for a similar behind-the-scenes tour, I was keen to see something from the other end of the scale, so I’m at the factory and headquarters of Passoni, one of the most highly revered custom manufacturers of titanium bicycles in the world.
Founded by Luciano Passoni in 1989, the brand claims the title of being the first company to manufacture titanium bicycles in Italy, and nowadays it turns out around 350 bikes per year. Upwards of 80% of those are ‘made to measure,’ with custom geometry, before being shipped around the world.
With a no-secrets look at the factory, nothing was off-limits as my host, and Passoni’s product manager, Matteo Visentini took me on a brief trip through the brand’s history before we entered the factory, met the men and women behind the brand, and I witnessed first hand some of the steps in this millimetre-accurate process.
Starting with a tour of the brand’s in-house showroom. While it’s not dissimilar to the Specialized showroom in that they were both set up to celebrate key moments in the brands’ histories, that’s where the similarities end. The Passoni showroom was a small room, complete with no more than 20 bikes, a table strewn with impressive components and collaborations. A walk through time can be completed in mere seconds, but we spent a little longer discussing the details.
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