Cicli Battaglin: From Pirana to RS Limited Edition,
over two decades of carbon fiber experience

By Cyclingnews staff in Marostica, Italy

When we walked into Giovanni Battaglin's Cicli Battaglin in Marostica, Italy for our Italia Bici visit, we saw one of the most unique, unusual Italian racing bicycles ever built. On display in Battaglin's newly renovated premises, the Pirana has a special might-have-been story. It was a beautiful May morning in Verona, Italy when Inoxpran bike sponsor Giovanni Battaglin rolled out what he hoped would be a secret weapon for team leader Roberto Visentini at the 1985 Giro d'Italia.

Battaglin and team wheel sponsor Giovanni Arrigoni had spent the last six months developing and testing a revolutionary new bicycle just for the 6.6km cronoprologo that finished in Verona's famous Arena. Climber Visentini was looking to get any advantage he could over World Hour Record holder Francesco Moser and Bernard Hinault. "We wanted to make a special bicycle that would have the best air penetration possible, the lowest Cx. We worked with an engineer that was an aerodynamic expert did some testing in a wind tunnel owned by the Gilera motorcycle company they used to test prototypes."

Aptly named Pirana, Battaglin's special TT rig was one of the first carbon fiber bicycles specifically designed for time trials. Battaglin explained, "We were looking for a special position where the rider's position was pushed forward, like an egg. We decided to make the Pirana in carbon fiber to get the right aerodynamic shape. This was one of the first monocoque carbon fiber bicycles, but in those days, carbon fiber wasn't like it is today. It was heavier and much more expensive. And when Visentini finally road tested the Pirana three weeks before the Giro, he gained three seconds per kilometer over his regular time trial bike!"

Battaglin and Arrigoni's experiment had worked, and worked well, but the results show that Moser took that first maglia rosa in Verona on May 15 twenty-one years ago. Battaglin continued the story. "When we rolled up to the start house, the race jury saw the Pirana, they did a double-take. They swarmed around it, checking it, measuring it. Then they talked for a few minutes and came back to [the Inoxpran team] and said 'Visentini can't race with [the Pirana] because it would give him an unfair advantage. We were stunned. I mean, there were not the specific rules for bicycles like there are today. So we went back and tried to convince them but there was nothing to do. We were very disappointed but that's the way it went."

Visentini was second in the cronoprologo, seven seconds behind Moser. "So the Pirana was never raced," smiled Battaglin, "but we used it in all the trade shows that season and it got a lot of attention. And we learned a lot about [bicycle] design and working with carbon fibre."

Fast forward two decades and Giovanni Battaglin is still building innovative carbon fiber bicycles.

"In our 2006 range, we have many full-carbon models as well as others with carbon fiber elements," explained Battaglin. "Our top model is the RS Limited Edition, an extremely light bicycle. In the small size, the frame weighs 840 grams, so we decided to limit the recommended weight of the rider to 80 kilos (176 lbs)."

Battaglin's RS Limited Edition has a monocoque frame made with 600A High Modulus carbon fiber, while the fork is also monocoque 600A High Modulus carbon fiber. Next in Battaglin's range is the RS1 Carbon Plus, another monocoque frame made in a more robust carbon fiber without weight restrictions. RS1 Carbon Plus has a monocoque frame made with T700HM High Modulus carbon fiber in five sizes in sloping geometry, while the fork is also a monocoque T700HM carbon fiber.

Giovanni Battaglin also makes mountain bikes, with an Olympic gold medal in 2000's Sydney Games to the credit of his Full Dynamix brand.

"We have brought our design and production experience from road racing to mountain bikes and I think the results speak for themselves," Battaglin proudly told us. Battaglin's Full Dynamix team rider Massimo DeBertolis rode to the World Marathon Championship in 2004, while Mauro Bettin was World Cup Marathon champion in 2005.

"Both of our riders have been involved in the design and testing of our new top MTB models from Full Dynamix, the XP Carbon / Titanium and M1 full carbon," said Battaglin. The elegant XP Carbon / Titanium has a central core seattube and seatstays of titanium, with toptube, downtube and seatstays in the same T700HM High Modulus carbon fibre as the Battaglin RS1 Carbon Plus road bike. The complete bicycle has a Manitou R7 Platinum fork with 80mm of travel and a Shimano XTR group with disc brakes.

Battaglin's M1 Full Carbon has a state of the art full carbon MTB frame, created in T700HM High Modulus carbon fibre like the Battaglin RS1 Carbon Plus road bike. Battaglin rounds out the spec of the M1 Full Carbon complete bike has a Manitou R7 Super Lockout fork and a Shimano XTR group with disc brakes.

As we departed Cicli Battaglin, Giovanni said "tell your Cyclingnews readers to come and see the Pirana and visit us in Marostica."

Further reading

Battaglin's website

More Italia Bici

Above: Never before, never again - Battaglin's Pirana caused a stir when it was wheeled out at the 1985 Giro.
Fast & deadly in 1985: the Battaglin Pirana. Note the big bubble of the disc wheel, designed to cut down drag, Modolo aero brakes, wild curved fork blades and bulge near rear wheel for hidden brakes.
Battaglin Pirana with Giovanni Battaglin's Tour de France climber's jersey in the backround.
Giovanni Battaglin demonstrates the Pirana's unique riding position.
The cockpit of the Battaglin Pirana with custom made integrated bar & stem and single handlebar control shifter
Giovanni Battaglin himself at Cicli Battaglin In Marostica, Italy