In this issue of Bikes of the Bunch, Greg Rosich takes us through the process of ordering a custom Sarto frameset; a process that started in the kitchen of his house.
“What bike is that?” This is usually the first question I get asked when people see my bike for the first time.
Sarto bikes are born and bred in Italy, specifically Pianiga, Venice, Italy. Sarto is a small family bike-building business that has been building bikes since World War II. Antonio Sarto and his two brothers started the business, then Antonio’s son, Enrico Sarto, joined the business in the ‘90s. The word “Sarto” is Italian for “tailor”, which is a very fitting name for a custom bike builder.
Why did I buy a Sarto? Basically I wasn’t happy with the ride quality and handling of the bikes I owned. Having built, fettled and raced motorcycles, I knew what I wanted from the handling department and I didn’t like what I had. I struggle up hills but I love going down fast, and this demands confidence in the bike’s steering and ride quality.
I also have trouble fitting standard frame geometry. I find myself caught between small and medium sizes. Small frames have seattube angles that are typically too steep (usually 74°) with a short headtube, while a medium has my desired seattube angle (73°-73.5°) with reasonable headtube length, however the toptube length is a touch too long, requiring the use of a short stem.
I bought a Colnago C59 frameset (size 52s) that was on sale in 2013. After riding it on all sorts of road surfaces, and even completing my first ever 200km day whilst visiting the 2015 TDU, I was happy with my position and loved the handling and ride quality. But could I improve on it?
I borrowed the kitchen bench, broke out the string line, digital protractor, tape measure, pad and pencil, and set to work. After many hours of checking, rechecking and deliberation, I had a detailed drawing of my ‘perfect’ frame geometry. Well that’s what I was hoping anyway.
The next step was to find a frame builder! Legend was one possibility, as was Baum, and a couple of others. I also visited Renzo Formigli in Florence whilst on holiday in Italy in 2014 (along with a visit to the Colnago museum). But it was the finish of the Guerciotti frames made by Sarto that captured my attention along with their construction methods.
Sarto uses a tube-to-tube construction method where the junctions are bonded, wrapped and cured, which allows for full custom geometry. Once all of the tube junctions are bonded and wrapped Sarto then wraps the complete frame in a 3K weave that you have to look incredibly close at to try and find the joints!
With the frame design settled, next was paint. This is where I took a radical departure from my norm—black and white—and I honestly could not be happier with the result! I have the exposed carbon weave, fluoro yellow (which remind me of surfing in the ‘80s), and of course, the Italian flag colours.
Here’s the build:
– Frame: Sarto Dinamica, full custom geometry. TT 535mm ST 526mm HT 150mm.
– Groupset: Full Shimano Dura Ace Di2, 175mm crank set with 52/36 rings and Pioneer powermeter fitted with a choice of 11/25 or 11/28 cassettes.
– Wheel Sets: I really wanted to build the whole bike so I did a wheel-building course with Melody Wheels in Fremantle and re-built my Zipp 303 rear wheel with a DA9000 hub and CX-Ray spokes. Then I re-built my old 10sp Reynolds Assault rear wheel with the same hub and spoke combination to bring them back to life.
– Handlebars: 3T Ergonova Pro aluminium 42cm and Fizik bar tape.
– Stem: 3T Team Stealth aluminium 100mm.
– Seat post: 3T Dorico LTD.
– Saddle: Fizik Arione R1 braided Carbon rails.
– Pedals: Shimano Ultegra Carbon.
– Cages: BBB Composite, courtesy of a magazine subscription.
– Computer: Pioneer.
“Weight?”, I hear you ask. The bike, ready to ride (pedals, cages, powermeter, computer, Reynolds C32 with Conti 4000GP II) comes in at 7.3kg. Yes, it could be lighter, but with the frame weighing in at 1,045g, it’s not what I was chasing. I enjoy longer solo rides, so it’s more than enough for my needs or, dare I say it, way more than I need (but since when did that matter?)
I enjoyed building the bike up. It’s my first time with the Di2 so that was a learning curve, as was building the wheels. For me that’s what it was all about, the whole process, from planning the ideal geometry, the back and forth with the builder, working out the desired components then putting it all together for the maiden test ride.
How does it ride? Well this is where it gets interesting. Did I get my drawing right? In short, hell yes! Was I somewhat nervous? Definitely. My drawing was always going to give me a bike with slightly sharper steering than the C59 due to less trail, but a slightly lower bottom bracket and the overall weight distribution sees it completely predictable in corners. Suffice to say, it makes me want to push it harder and harder!