Bikes of the Bunch: A Baum Corretto with Italian descent

An Australian bike with Italian roots, named Frankie – after great-grandfather Francesco.

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In the week’s Bikes of the Bunch feature, CyclingTips reader Ascanio (who wished not to be named in full) shares the story of their beautiful Baum Corretto titanium road bike, and what the bike means to them and their Italian heritage. 


I’m writing this at the Alpini museum and bar, looking at a procession of people in full regalia, on the old bridge of Bassano del Grappa.

This is the place that my family left after World War II. Monte Grappa is a sacred place for many, including me. However, I didn’t discover it until I came here on a cycling trip with my Dad. We fuelled up with polenta, ate Asiago cheese for recovery, drank coffee in tiny bars, traded jokes in our ancient dialect and pedalled through some heavy rain. I crashed after my rental bike’s brakes failed, and still have the scars.

The Corretto at home in Monte Grappa.

I brought my Baum Orbis with me on the next trip. This was an all-rounder: could sprint, cruise for 250kms, and nail rollers. I battled up some 26% grades in straight (53/39) gearing, in a relatively laid back position on a bike that I’ve never weighed (but was probably over 7kgs). I tried my best to destroy myself on that bike, riding every day, in all conditions, with every group, up every climb. The bike never failed me but my mate’s brakes did while he was in front of me on a descent, and I ended up with a broken femur.

Sitting on the couch, dreaming about the mountains, I started designing a bike that belonged in Bassano del Grappa and would be made by Baum. The colours would pay homage to the Alpini soldiers. The name would be Frankie, after my great-grandfather Franceso, a very tall chap who was in the special Grenadiers division of the army.

The bike had to climb well. After spending six hours on the trainer in Geelong, trying five saddles, adjusting cleats for over an hour – talking about everything from artificial intelligence to fasting to Cadel Evans’ fixie-based training – Darren [Baum] and I settled on a design that was essentially like my Orbis but assuming that I would mostly be on grades >10%. The gearing would assume that I had to get up grades >20% after riding too much … or drinking too much grappa.

An 11-34T cassette awaits the Alps.

The groupset would be Campagnolo, of course, given that the company was started and remains here (among others: Castelli, Sportful, Selle Italia, Wilier, SiDi, Gaerne, Basso, Battaglin and many more). I was tempted to make this a ‘super light’ climbing bike by fitting it with THM/Lightweight/Extralite parts, maybe shaving off 500 grams. However, I know what it’s like to get stuck in a European country town: there are no disc brake pads with special compounds, mechanics to reset your SRAM Red, or glue for your singles. I also break stuff. I needed rim, mechanical, and doubles. Simple.

As it happens, Darren Baum named his rim-braked titanium bicycle the Corretto, among a line of coffee-inspired names (Ristretto, Cubano and Romano). The Bassanese drink a lot, you see: they take an Aperol spritz the minute the bar stops serving cappuccino at 10:30am (in the same seat). They follow with Prosecco (also from here) before lunch, Lugano (white wine) during lunch, a beer in the afternoon, and – when you need to push through that last block of work for the day – you take a caffé corretto. That is, coffee ‘corrected’ with grappa. Usually, you take a local (Nardini/Poli) or home-made grappa, and dump it into the coffee. However, one can also take the grappa before, after, alongside, or as a way to wash out the cup.

Finishing a ride on a Corretto, with a corretto, in Bassano: perfetto.

Build 

Frame: Baum Corretto Titanium
Fork: Enve 2.0 50mm
Headset: Chris King 1 1/8 Black SV
Wheelset: Campagnolo Bora WTO 33
Shifters: Campagnolo Super Record 12 speed
Crankset: Campagnolo Super Record 12 speed
Bottom bracket: Campagnolo Super Record 12 speed
Front derailleur: Campagnolo Super Record 12 speed
Rear derailleur: Campagnolo Super Record 12 speed
Cassette: Campagnolo Super Record 12 speed 11-34
Chain: Campagnolo Super Record 12 speed
Brakes: Campagnolo Super Record 12 speed
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero TLR SL 26mm
Handlebar: 3T Superleggera Team Stealth 42cm
Stem: 3T ARX 2 Team 120mm 31.8 6 degree
Seatpost: Enve 5mm offset
Cages: King Ti
Bar tape: Silca Nastro Piloti Black
Saddle: Prologo Zero ii Pas
Pedals: Speedplay titanium

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