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Tech feature - June 18, 2004

Cicli Pinarello displays its racing history

I bellissimi specialissimi della marca Trevigiana

During the recent Giro d'Italia, Cicli Pinarello of Treviso was asked to put on an exhibit of some of the unique racing bikes the company has made during the last 50 years of building bicycles. Fausto Pinarello walked Cyclingnews through the display.

A 1957 Pinarello
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1957 Pinarello

"On a bicycle like this, with our classic ivory and blue paint scheme, we had our first professional victory in 1956 with the Mainetti team," says Fausto Pinarello proudly. "On this actual bicycle, Guido di Rosso won the Tour de l'Avenir. In those days, we didn't change the models every year; it was made in our old workshop in Catena di Villorba. Those days, I don't know how many bikes we made... but not that many! My father also sold a lot of bikes in Austria and Switzerland back then."

The first modern triple chainring
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Giovanni Battaglin's 1981 Pinarello "Tre Cime"

"This bike was specifically made for Giovanni Battaglin for the 1981 Giro d'Italia. It was his usual racing bike, but made for the very steep Tre Cime di Lavaredo stage that year. This was the first modern triple chainring used for road racing on this level. My father Giovanni came up with the idea back then; he took a regular Campagnolo Super Record chainset and then drilled out the crankarms.

"In our former workshop in Catena di Villorba, they made a special spider for the crankset to add a third chainring. Then the inner 36 tooth chainring was added to give an extra level of gear ratios. In those days, the smallest inside chainring you could use was a 42 tooth, so the gearing worked out as 36-42-53. And for the 1981 Giro time trial in Verona, we only used one chainring... it all worked perfectly and Battaglin won the Giro and the Vuelta that year. This bike had custom geometry for Battaglin, but otherwise it was our top racing bike back then; cast microfusion lugs and Columbus SL tubing with Campagnolo Super Record seven-speed."

The top tube was lowered by two centimeters
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Miguel Indurain's 1993 Pinarello Banesto Team Bike

"This was the first TIG-welded steel bike to win the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, which happened in 1993. We also made the first aluminum TIG-welded bike to win both races in 1995. This was the first year we used Oria tubing. Indurain always had the same size bike - 59x59 - and on this model, we lowered the top tube by two centimeters to make the triangle more compact and more rigid. On the head tube, there was another spacer of two centimeters that brought Indurain's position up higher. That's the way he rode... in his last season, Indurain had an Aheadset stem of 110 degrees to stay in his preferred position. This bike weighs about nine kilograms; it's a very big bike! As well, this bike has 180mm crankarms... you know, Indurain never changed his position in the 15 years he raced on Pinarello bicycles."

A true 'capolavoro'
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Miguel Indurain's 1994 Pinarello Espada

A true 'capolavoro' (work of art), Pinarello's dramatic, innovative Espada has become an icon of Italian design. Explains Fausto Pinarello: "There were only four of these bicycles made: two for the road and two for the track - just for Indurain. We developed this bike in 1994 when there weren't the UCI rules on bicycle design and you were free to create truly special bicycles. We developed this bike in collaboration with Ing. Giacchi, an aerodynamics engineer who has worked extensively with Formula One racing. We realized that we couldn't make a bicycle with this kind of shape in metal so we decided to use carbon fibre. The first version was made for track, for the world hour record and then we modified it for the derailleurs and internal cable guides. Of course, this bike was made to measure for Indurain, so the carbon fibre molds still exist. The cost of each frame mold was about $5,000, not counting manufacturing costs. Indurain did break the world hour record on the Espada, but he had never done it before."

Miguel Indurain's 1996 Pinarello
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Miguel Indurain's 1996 Pinarello Olympic Gold Medal Crono Bike

Capping his long and successful career with a gold medal in the Atlanta Olympics TT, Miguel Indurain's Pinarello Crono Bike brought special satisfaction to Fausto Pinarello. "Miguel's Crono is a welded Dedacciai steel frame with very thin tubing, very aerodynamic," he says. "The tubes are seven to eight tenths thickness at the tube ends because Miguel weighed between 80 to 82 kilos. This Crono had a very aerodynamic profile, especially with the aero head tube. In the mid-1990s, we used steel for this bike as there wasn't the type of aluminum tubing [that is] available today. Plus it [aluminum] wasn't that popular... it has a steel fork as well, with a cast aero fork crown. It was a rigid frame; not super-light but very stiff.

"But Miguel didn't have a very aerodynamic profile... he sat very high up compared to today's riders. If he had used the same type of (low) position as Olano or Ullrich he would have been even faster in the time trials. Indurain used 180mm cranks on this bike; in fact, from May onwards, when he was in good form and had more power, he usually switched from 177.5mm cranks to 180s. Ullrich does the same thing. After Indurain's win in at the '96 Olympics, the entire team used this model the following year."

The stem was a custom made TTT prototype
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Jan Ullrich's 2000 Pinarello Olympic Gold Medal Bike

The Sydney Olympics was a particularly proud moment in the racing history of Cicli Pinarello, as their Team Telekom-sponsored riders took an unprecedented 1-2-3 in the medal count. Jan Ullrich rode this rare Pinarello prototype to the gold medal, with Kloden and Vinokourov second and third (the other two riders were using standard Team Telekom Pinarellos).

"It was kind of a mix between the Prince, a model we already had since 1998 and a Gallileo prototype," says Fausto Pinarello. "Ullrich's bike had round Easton Scandium tubing on the downtube, with some conic shaping on the top tube. The next year, we made this as the team bike for some riders on Banesto like Jose 'Chaba' Jimenez and Abraham Olano. The stem was a custom made TTT prototype for the 1'1/8" steerer tube, which Pinarello has used since 1997."


Images by Tim Maloney/Cyclingnews


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