Wednesday, October 19, 2016


B.Y.O.B? As it's OK to "bring your own bike" - was something almost 45% of our survey responses indicated as important to their enjoyment of a cycling tour. If you have yet to complete our survey, click

The survey closes at the end of October when we'll draw the winning names for some great prizes. Don't miss out!

Meanwhile more than 40% of you indicated a choice of BYOB or renting a bike from us was most important.

Either way, CycleItalia has you covered! We have rental bikes in most sizes, all Campagnolo-equipped and all Italian, both steel and aluminum/carbon. Meanwhile, we're working on some full-carbon machines for 2017.

Unlike many of our competitors who include the use of a bike as part of your tour, CycleItalia makes it easy to BYOB if you choose, with no extra charges to transport your bike case. 
Not only that, with our "no tipping" policy, the cost of renting or flying your bike will likely be less than the 5-10% of your tour price most of those "other guys" ask you to tip their staff at your tour's end.

Our rental fleet is small (though there are more bikes than shown here) just like the size of our groups, but we're confident we'll have the right bike* if you choose to rent - just bring your saddle and pedals and you're ready to go! We're also happy to help you assemble and fine-tune your own bike if you prefer.

* Rental bikes (classic and standard) available in popular sizes @ just $299 US for the duration of your guided tour. We'll provide a spec sheet for you to complete so we can duplicate the fit of your favorite bike at home. Availability is limited and first come-first served. Contact us for details.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

The end of tubular tires?

The pros have raced on tubular tires pretty much since they were invented. Tire makers like Michelin paid a few teams back in the 1990's to use their clinchers and pretty much every major race in the world was won using them before the payments ended - and the teams went back to tried-and-true, glued on tires.

Why? A tubular rim is almost always lighter than it's clincher counterpart due to not needing any flanges to hold the tire on, just a depression in the center where the tubular mounts, held on with glue. The tires tend to be lighter as well and pinch flats are almost impossible. Perhaps more importantly, a flat tubular is very unlikely to separate from the rim whereas a clincher could come off, making for some nasty consequences. Who would like to see their star rider out for the rest of the season due to a crash caused by a flat tire? 

The team mechanics we spoke with back-in-the-day of Michelin clinchers loved 'em. No glue, no mess, no hassles. But the team managers are not the ones gluing 'em on, so the mechanics went back to doing what they were told once the payments ended.

Above: Some of our favorite clincher tires

For the rest of us, tubulars have been sort of a vanity item for years - there's really zero need to mess around with glue and the mounting hassles compared to the ease (and of course the ease of repair) of mounting clincher tires. With the current crop of "open tubular" designs with cotton or other supple casings the ride quality differences are almost zero these days.

NOW, one of the last arguments for tubulars may have finally been destroyed as the rainbow jersey in the elite men's time trial has been won using clincher tires, tires claimed to have LESS rolling resistance than glued-on tubulars. You can read more about this HERE.

We'll concede that if weight is the most important criteria, a carbon-fiber tubular rim with a glued-on tubular tire will still be the lightest setup, but with the hassle of mounting (and the tears when you get a flat) plus less-than-optimum braking performance make this choice rather silly unless all of your rides include a fully-stocked "team car" behind you.

For the rest of us, it's more clear than ever now that the tubular tires' myth of superior rolling resistance has been debunked that an aluminum (Larry would still not ride around the block on a pair of "carbon clincher" wheels) clincher rim with a handmade, supple "open tubular" tire mounted on it is the best combination of ride quality, braking performance, cost-effectiveness and now rolling resistance currently on the market.

For the pros, it'll probably take another round of payments/sponsorships before we see many clinchers back in the pro peloton - but that really shouldn't make much difference to the rest of us.

For more than you probably ever wanted to know about the subject of tires, pressures, widths, etc, click HERE.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Fall seems like a great time for roasted meats as you've probably put the BBQ grill and thoughts of Fiorentina steaks away for the season?

So why not a pork roast - porchetta style? The photo above was copied from a NYT recipe, which you can find here, but Heather's is a bit more simple and easy. So easy that bike mechanics like Larry can make it. He did just that a few weeks ago.

This is a specialty of central Italy - think southern Tuscany, Lazio, Umbria and Le Marche. The spices used vary with the region so feel free to experiment a little.

Larry couldn't find one pork roast large enough so he bought two. Since you string 'em up as shown, it's not that critical to have one big piece of meat anyway.

Per pound of meat:
1 garlic clove
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh parsley
4 sage leaves
handful of fennel fronds (in LeMarche they often use the bulb as well)
1/4 t coarse salt
1/8 t fresh ground pepper
1 t extra virgin olive oil

Combine all the ingredients and chop coarsely to make a paste. You can slice your roast into a slab that can be rolled up with the paste mixture inside or stab some cuts in the roast and stuff them full of the paste mixture. Put what's left on top, then roll and tie if needed. A roast with the skin on is great, but might be tough to find at your butcher.

350 F in the oven until your meat thermometer shows 140 F inside. Larry likes to throw some bite-sized chunks of raw potato (soaked for a few hours in salt water beforehand then drizzled with olive oil) and fresh rosemary into the roasting pan during the last hour of cooking.

Let the roast rest outside the oven for at least 15 minutes before serving or put the whole thing in the 'fridge and enjoy sandwiches (panini) the next day. Just drop some slices into a fresh, crispy bread roll and sprinkle with plenty of salt - MMMmmmmm!

Enjoy with a Sangiovese-based wine if you enjoy this hot, or a cold birra with your panino.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Nothing like new shoes!!!

As noted in the previous blog post about Interbike 2016, Larry visited friends at Vittoria Shoes, a family we've known for a long, long time. Larry's worn their shoes for even a longer time after spending time in a northern Italian bike shop in the 1990's despite being supplied with shoes at no charge back when we worked for those "other people." He tried on every brand of shoe in the shop's extensive shoe department with Vittoria the hands-down winner for fit. A pair of MTB and a pair of road shoes were happily purchased back in the day when Italian shoes faced hefty tariffs in the USA! While the road shoes are long gone, the MTB pair is still in good shape and still gets worn!

Despite this Larry needed a new pair of cycling shoes. He sort of hates to admit it but his favorite pair is a blue/white MSG model they offered back when our friends at Torelli were the importer/distributors. These are synthetic leather, 3 velcro-strap, nylon sole shoes Larry wanted more because they had tricolore stripes and ITALIA on them than anything else! These were never imported into the USA. Now they're in Santa Barbara in the box with the bikes we keep there and every time Larry puts them on, he's reminded how comfortable they are, despite their low cost and low tech.

So Vittoria's new ELITE "indoor" shoe caught his eye. We both wear MTB shoes and use SPD road pedals for the ease of walking with no fear of slipping on marble floors or stairways so these looked perfect, with a similar sole and rubber tread as the 1976 shoes we use while riding our epoca bikes. Larry doesn't even bother with a cleat on those, but SPD cleats will bolt right on. They're designed for indoor "spinning" classes and such, but Larry's experience with the MSG makes him think these will be great outside too.

There's certainly nothing wrong with the Vittoria higher-end shoes, especially if you like high-tech closures and stiff, carbon-fiber soles, but any way you go, Vittoria shoes offer a fit that Larry, really, really likes. You might as well.

Grazie Edoardo!

Disclaimer: These shoes were provided at no cost (well at least no invoice has shown up yet!) by Vittoria Shoes USA.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Interbike 2016 Part 3 - the people

This is the final installment for Interbike 2016 and in most ways the best. The people in the bike biz are what makes it great, especially when they're Italians.

Above are  some of the Albabici folks (l-r) Robertino, Alessandro, Gianluca, yours truly and Pitz. We've been friends with Ale and Gianlu for a decade now.

Above is yours truly with Veronica of Vittoria Shoes. The sister of Edoardo, she spends most of her time as a flight attendent with Etihad Airways. I asked her to convey my best wishes to her parents back in Biella so we posed for this photo for them, CIAO AMICI!

And then Edoardo gave me a package of these wonderful biscotti, a specialty of the Biella region. MMmmmmm! And si, Edoardo, some were saved for Heather!

Next we have Dan Large of Campagnolo North America. He's the west coast tech guy, buona forchetta and MOTOGP fan. He's standing behind a test bike equipped with Campagnolo's new POTENZA 11-speed groupset. The new components look pretty good, a real return to Campy's philosophy of great performance at every level - paying more gets you nicer finishing, more exotic materials and lower weight - but the performance is the same. We're working on making bikes with this groupset available as part of our rental fleet.

What bike to put a new POTENZA groupset on? Heather likes her Athena 11-speed triple setup just fine  (and it's still offered by Campagnolo) and Larry's happy with an older 10-speed triple setup so....perhaps a new bicycle? How 'bout a FAVALORO? A what, you say? A FAVALORO., as you'll see by watching the video via the link, is made entirely by Michele Favaloro in Italy. He's called FM-Bike in Italy but for the USA his name will be on the downtubes.

Many of you have asked for a full carbon-fiber bicycle to be added to the CycleItalia rental fleet, but our previous bike supplier doesn't offer any and Larry wasn't too keen on anything cooked up in Asia with merely an Italian-sounding name stuck on it in any case.

So we're working on custom-made, just-for-us 100% Made-in-Italy bicycles. We hope to have  at least one example by next tour season, but we're not sure yet if we'll be able to offer a small fleet in addition to our current bikes. 

The idea here is to show that for the same money you'd spend to buy a bike molded and baked in Asia featuring a big-brand name (one who spends millions to have the likes of Froome or Nibali ride 'em) that comes only in "t-shirt" (too big, too small and close enough) sizes, instead you could have a 100% Made-in-Italy, made-to-measure bicycle with all the features you want. Integrated seatpost, internal cables, internal wiring, aero shaping, special compliance for rough roads, etc. Totally hand-built just for you and created in weeks, not months.

This is something only the biggest stars of the sport can do as the bike sponsors want everyone to believe the Tour, Giro, etc. is being won on a bike just like the one you can buy. Despite this, for years many of the big stars have had custom, made-to-measure machines created just for them and then painted up in the team livery.

Now you can too!

We'll have more details as we work to get our first example so keep checking the blog.

Mille Grazie to everyone at Interbike 2016 for their hospitality!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Bellissimo acciaio (the most beautiful steel)

Most of you well know both Larry and Heather are lovers of lugged steel bikes made in Italy. ALL of our personal bikes (with the exceptions of MTB's and a few tig-welded steel bikes here and there) are handmade, lugged steel from Italy. One of Larry's favorite things to do at Interbike (after he's visited with our Italian friends of course!) is to admire these gorgeous machines. ANYBODY still making bikes like these in Italy is a hero in our book!

We've always admired BOTTECCHIA, though for awhile they were made by a rather large industrial concern. Now the brand-name seems to be in more caring hands.

The golden age of cycling, but with modern components. What's not to love?

We are suckers for pantographing. I wonder if this could be done on carbon-fiber?

And we're suckers for chrome - something that certainly can't be done on carbon-fiber!

Colnago continues to lavish chrome on the front end of his steel bikes.

Though that's the only area these days getting the full treatment.

Olmo puts more effort into theirs as you can see.

We think it's wonderful that these companies with heritage still produce bikes that reflect it!

SOMEC has an enthusiastic importer/distributor in the USA.

Larry always enjoys saying CIAO to them!

The steel Wilier bikes are always a feast for the eye and we'd take a guess they're just as much fun to own and ride.


Even on the bottom bracket shell!

Finally, two photos of Heather's new bike. GIOS (at least the real, made-in-Italy ones) can only be purchased in Italy so we did just that this past summer. Heather had always admired the blue bikes (and Roger DeVlaeminck and the Brooklyn team) so we decided perche no? and had one built just for her.

Don't be fooled. Other bikes with this famous name on them are available throughout the world but are made in Asia, NOT Italy!  Heather's name was painted on this frame by Aldo Gios himself, just like they used to do for guys like DeVlaeminck.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Interbike 2016 - Part 1

The Interbike Expo is Larry's chance to say CIAO to all of our Italian cycling friends in one (huge) place. Sadly that place is Las Vegas, Nevada for some crazy reason, but here we are....

Above you see Larry posing with Sig. Valentino Campagnolo, the son of the founder and still the boss. He's not always at this show so I took the opportunity to offer him one of the special tribute t-shirts we had printed up. Larry had long wanted to create an homage to the famous, legendary phrase young Tullio was supposed to have said to himself  in a race over the Croce d'Aune pass when his frozen hands couldn't undo the wing nuts on his rear wheel to swap over to the other sprocket-

"Bisogna cambia qualcosa de drio."
(Something needs to be changed in the rear.)

which led to the invention of the quick-release wheel skewer, a product still in wide use today on high quality bicycles. Mr. Campagnolo seemed genuinely touched*

Next it was more light-hearted fun - for some reason the SMP saddle folks had models dressed up as nurses at their stand, so the obligatory sort-of cheesecake shot was taken. I guess it wouldn't be the bike show in 'Vegas without some attractive models to draw attention from the mostly male audience.

Tomorrow's the Campagnolo tech seminar and who knows what else?

*Update: Turns out Campagnolo is offering an amazingly similar t-shirt of their own. Ours were created without any knowledge of their plans and are not-for-sale, but you CAN buy their's, just click HERE. 
(You'll note differing dates on when the famous inspiration occured, we took ours from Campagnolo's own book "The Giant and the File" by Gianni Brera.)