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Prior to the start of this year’s Giro d’Italia, photographer Veeral Patel dropped into the Passoni workshop in Lecco, Italy and paid a visit.
As with all things Italian, cycling seems to be rooted deep within one’s pysche. Whether it be commuting or racing, life tends to revolve around bicycles. Such was the case of Luciano Passoni, the founder of one of the most sought after bespoke titanium frames in the world. Luciano was born and raised in a small town, Bernareggio, just outside of Milan. He spent his younger days racing locally, many of his circle of racing friends went on to win stages in Giro d’Italia and one of them went on to become a frame builder himself. A name that may not come as surprise to many is Ernesto Colnago who Luciano had spent time racing with and remained good friends since childhood.
Almost 27 years ago one of the strangest forms of coincidences that led to the fruition of the Passoni brand that you see today. During one weekend Lucianno was riding to Madonna Ghisallo when he was passed by a rider on a very oddly shapped frame which immediately caught his attention. The frame was branded Trecià and it was a custom design made by the rider himself, Amelio Riva. Amelio was one of the first frame builder’s to have been experimenting with titanium for frame building since the 70s. By trade Amelio was an engineer working with titanium for industrial applications including aeronautics and motorsports. To Amelio frame building was a hobby and nothing more.
After much persuasion Amelio agreed to build Luciano a frame. After the first frame was built, Luciano returned to Amerlio’s workshop asking for a second frame as Luciano was worried if one got stolen he wouldn’t have another one to ride and nor was he willing to ride a non titanium based frame. Luciano already had a successful electrical business operating in Milan and the thought of producing boutique titanium frames under the Passoni name lingered on his mind.
Unfortunately, Amelio was not interested in forming a business alliance with Luciano. As a result, Luciano sent his son, Luca, to Bergamo to learn about the principles of frame design and development under the guidance of Amelio.
It took another five years to build the first successful Passoni prototype, Top, that was unveiled at the 1989 EICA (Esposizione Internazionale Ciclo Motociclo e Accessori) show in Milan. It was at EICA that allowed the Passoni brand to flourish. Over the past 23 years Passoni has built a loyal following globally, even though they produce 350 to 400 frames yearly, each frame manufactured is a custom project with superfluous attention to detail.