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In our special Italia Bici section, presents the finest Italy has to offer in bicycles and cycling apparel. Each feature presents a leading Italian manufacturer and its 2005 product lines, with special insights into the design and manufacture of their products, including the input provided by some of the world's leading professional cyclists.

In these pages, we also meet the designers and driving forces behind some of cycling's greatest names, and look at the history of companies that have shaped the sport in the world's number one cycling nation.

By Cyclingnews staff in Cusano Milanino, Italy

The symbol of DeRosa is a heart and it's an appropriate one, for the love and passion that the artisan bicycle builder from Cusano Milanino represents in their bicycles. DeRosa's real company name is DeRosa Ugo & Figli - Ugo DeRosa and Sons - and like many small Italian firms that make unique, often world-famous artisan products, DeRosa is a family affair.

His Newest Creation: Ugo DeRosa with Tango: his swoopy, sexy bat-bike
Full Frontal Tango
Clean Machine: Ugo DeRosa showed Cyclingnews this special " very expensive" new machine in their workshop that mills seat tubes to extremely fine tolerances. "With the new carbon seatposts, it is very important that the inside of the inside of the seat tube is very well machined, otherwise you can break the seatpost", explained Ugo.
Tapeworms: After assembly with epoxy, the DeRosa King X-Light has carbon fibre tape applied and is then baked in an oven at 130 degrees centigrade for one hour.
Detail of Carbon Fibre tape application prior to heat treatment
Cristiano DeRosa showh how the rear triangle of the Tango fits with main section
Rear triangle of Tango after epoxy and before going into the oven for 20 minutes at 80 degees centigrade
Cristiano DeRosa with a fresh baked Tango, all ready for painting
Ugo DeRosa & Friends: DeRosa is especially proud to show that they build bikes in foru different materials: (L-R) Steel NeoPrimato, Carbon Fibre King X-Light & Tango, Aluminium Team and Titanium.
Seldom Seen Stealth: DeRosa's Prototype1d made few appearances in the 2004 season, mostly under Stefano Garzelli in the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta d'Espana mountain stages

In 1952, Ugo DeRosa opened his first store/workshop on via Lanfranco della Pila in Milano but today, DeRosa headquarters is a large factory/office hidden in an industrial area just north of Milano. Right next to the Bocciodromo Sperone-Neirano, there's no sign out front at DeRosa unless you look straight up and see the huge neon sign that points south towards the Tangenziale "DeRosa Ugo & Figli-Biciclette Speciale".

Despite the unpreposessing look of the exterior, DeRosa lives up to their moniker Biciclette Speciale. As you enter the small showroom, there is an array of pristine DeRosa bicycles that any aficianado would swoon for once they'd found DeRosa in the maze of Milanese streets. Cyclingnews recently paid a visit to Ugo and Sons in Cusano Milanino for Italia Bici 2005. Ugo greeted us upon arrival; the patriarch of the clan had recently celebrated his 71st birthday and was in fine form on the springlike day, happy that the harsh winter was finally over.

Ugo called his son Cristiano, who soon bounded down the steps from his office, full of energy and optimism as always. "Ciao Cyclingnews!" he greeted us and we were proud to remember that Cristiano home page was It had been a few years since we had been at DeRosa for a full factory visit and there was a lot of excitement brewing as we sat down with Cristiano and Ugo to discuss their latest models, the King X-Light and Tango. "You just saw Ugo a few months ago when we were delivering our King X-Light to Team Barloworld... they are very happy with this bike."

Hail To The King

Cristiano framed the development of the DeRosa's King model for Cyclingnews, explaining, "We launched the King in 2000 and since then it's been a step by step evolution. First we developed the frameset, then we made it lighter and also added different frame geometry. For example, in 2003 we added 11 standard sizes to the original sloping geometry and now have a total of 17 different King sizes for people to chose from!" We asked Cristiano DeRosa to explain the difference of the new King X-Light model and he laughed and said, "That's easy... it's in the name. With the X-Light, that we introduced at the Milano show last year [2004], we used a lighter weight carbon fibre to lighten the frameset. The first version of the King frameset in a 48cm sloping size weighed 1,420 grams, while the new King X-Light model in the same size weighs 1,100 grams. That's 420 grams; a big savings." DeRosa explained that although the structure of the King is essentially the same, the new material made the difference.

"We are using a special light version of a high-modulus carbon fibre from Mizuno called K1. You will notice that the weave is finer than on most bicycles and for the King X-Light. We've changed the carbon lay-up to keep the weight low and further enhance rigidity. We believe that the closer the weave of the carbon fibre, the stronger it is. The challenge is to find the correct way to impregnate the fibers and that costs a lot more. But it also creates a better carbon fibre bike and that's our goal." As for future changes for the King, Cristiano DeRosa told Cyclingnews, "King is our key model at DeRosa, our number one seller. The riders are happy with this and so we'll continue to maintain the King; it's a bike that offers light weight, high-performance and is very versatile."

Tango: A Bike For The New Millenium

After looking close-up at the new King X-Light, we checked out the dramatic, swoopy, futuristic Tango model, also unveiled at the Milano show last year. This is a bicycle that Cristiano is especially proud of. He explains the genesis of what some call the "bat-bike" for its unorthdox appearance. "We wanted to create a more affordable carbon fibre model below the King, but not just any bike; something different," said Cristiano DeRosa, while his father Ugo nodded his head in approval. "That way people would realize it was something special and they have; Tango is a completely different product for us." The instantly recognizeable DeRosa Tango has a unique "S" shape in the top and seat tube that gives it the look of a one-off show bike. Tango also has all-internal cable routing to maintain the clean, fresh look and a rear brake caliper that's nestled in a small fairing. "DeRosa is a very classic type of company; we still sell plenty of our steel NeoPrimato frames in Molteni and Faema colors. But we also like to take risks; with Dedaccai, we did the first frame in hydroformed aluminium (the Merak in 2003) and now with the Tango, we have a new unique new model that is already very successful, especially in the United States."

Cristiano explained that DeRosa had recently changed their distribution partner in America. "We had kind of a divorce with our former distributor," joked Cristiano. "Our business goals had mutually changed and so we decided to part ways, but on friendly terms. Then by chance at the Las Vegas show, we met two young, dynamic Italian guys Gianluca Caliari and Alessandro Godi. We had a good feeling together and so we decided to work with their company, Albabici. They have the serious approach, experience and above all thepassion for DeRosa we need." Cristiano explained that the sales channel in the USA for DeRosa has been re-organized and, "we have added twenty new DeRosa dealers who believe in our brand and are looking for more new dealers who have a special feeling for DeRosa bicycles."

Proto-Moto Fuori Gamma

At that moment, the bell rang in DeRosa's officina/laboratorio and the workers and office staff grabbed their coats and as is traditional in Italy, headed home for a quick lunch on pasta asciutta. As Ugo and Cristiano escorted us out, we spotted a very special bicycle among the special array of DeRosas, the DeRosa Prototype 1d. "Hey, that's the bike I saw Garzelli riding at the Giro last year!", I exclaimed "the special lightweight King." I saw that I had mada gaffe when Ugo and Cristiano frowned at me and Cristiano said "This is NOT a King!" He went on to explain that the DeRosa Prototype 1 tubeset was made with the same molds from as the King, but was created in a very special, very light carbon fibre. "Look closely and you won't see the usual weave of carbon fibre. This frame is made of unidirectional carbon fibre and it is very light... only 920 grams but very rigid. We have only made up a very limited amount of tubesets; this bike is completely "fuori gamma" (out of DeRosa's model range).

Cristiano DeRosa went on to say that a very limited number of DeRosa Prototype 1 frames could be available and anyone who was interested should get in touch with their a DeRosa distributor to see which worldwide DeRosa dealer to contact. As we left DeRosa, Ugo said with a twinkle in his eye, "we are small, but we manage to do big things here." Indeed; DeRosa produces about 7,000 frames a year from their small atelier in Milano's industrial hinterlands, and everyone of them are built with love, passion and experience that comes straight from their hearts.

Further reading

DeRosa website