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The Casati Brand
1920 is when it all started by Pietro Casati in Monza and today they still make bikes with the same ethos and still family run.
No Mainstream. The new Customer.
Some people say one day soon all bicycle frames are coming from one company in China, produced in tens of thousands every year. Shipped to different countries where they are marketed as made, engineered or at least painted in Italy, Germany or the USA.
Some people say ‘one day soon we all will eat our Spaghetti at McDonalds and drink coffee at Starbucks. Maybe not’
There are more cycling enthusiasts than ever and some of them are different. After all they are still passionate about cycling, they like to know how Eugene Christophe managed to climb the Pyrenees with one gear or why Bartali gave Coppi his drink bottle, even if he did not like him. But when they go to visit the cycling museum Ghisallo, they climb on their own bicycle to Madonna del Ghisallo.
And of course they climb Stelvio, Alp d’Huez, Mont Ventoux and they battle with all the other obstacles a cyclist has to cope with. Weather, feeding, motivation for a single or a group ride,finding enough time to ride between work and private business. Those cyclists like riding and the competition.
But they do not buy a mainstream bike just because the last Tour de France winner used the bike for his victory. They are not “little Nibalis or Froomes”. They have their own personality, their own concept about a bicycle.
The production of hand made bicycles.
Years ago every little town in Italy had a frame builder. While the very famous Italian brands almost exclusively doing mainstream business,most frame builders disappeared. It was too hard to compete in the mass production market with a labour intensive hand made individual product.
He likes managing the little family business. The production and the administration. Consulting the customer, the logistics and the after sales business.
He loves the steel because of the heritage, the story of cycling and the pure classic bicycles. He is ambitious about carbon. Going for weight and other maximum performance issues.
Marketing and Sponsorship
Massimo and Luca do not sponsor a Pro Tour Team. That would require selling tens of thousands of mass produced imported frames to pay for the expenses. But sometimes they help a young cyclist when he is not yet famous. Like they sponsored Andrea Guardini when he raced for the little Casati Under 23 squad. Kind of family tradition. A year later, this Guardini is not in the Casati Team anymore, he rides for a big Professional Team. At the Giro d’Italia, 19 stages, he suffers a lot. Penultimate stage he is in the first group. Not far to the finish. No way for him to win, Cavendish will win the sprint. The Casatis watch the stage in TV. Lots of noise, Italian style. Then 500 m to go. No noise, no words, you could hear a feather falling down in the Casati workshop. Guardini is next to Cavendish, the last 300, 200, 100 meters. A good sprint anyway. Everyone knows, Guardini cannot win.
Cavendish always wins – well, this day Cavendish did not …
Noise level is back to “Italian Standard”, maybe even more. Next day, last stage of the Giro, Guardini exeeds the time limit, disqualified. Lots of changes in cycling and building bicycles over the last 90 years. Watching Guardini winning the stage, next day beeing disqualified. Sometimes it seems like nothing changed since Eugene Christophe in 1914.
Having the right components.
Today you have lots of choices when it comes to buy everything you need to build frames.Tubes in carbon, aluminum, steel, different diameters and shapes, lugs, silver for brazing, fork heads and forks. You have to choose very carefully and even then not everything is always available on time in the right quality. Like it was promised. Control the quality and cope with the logistics is the first step in producing a hand made frame in for a customers accettabile 6 weeks production time.
There is a big hype about bike fitting and custom made bikes.
But all the fuss is just because most bikes sold are built with a standard size s, m, l or xl frame and then “customized” with a different size stem and the seat post moved a little up or down. Maybe there is an extra x before the s or the xl, but this is no more than pressing all the different and individual cyclists onto a standard size frame. It is easy for Luca to make a frame fitting for each individual because he builds all frames tube to tube (hand made). All the tubes can be cut in just the size the cyclist needs for lenght and height. And of course the top tube can be horizontal (traditional) or sloped in many different angles. This is the way frames where built for decades in many workshops. 4 or 6 or 12 standard sizes where never enough to satisfy a critical customer.
The brazing of steel frames is a job what fascinates customers and builders. Cromoly or Inox tubes, lugged or silver filet brazed, old style or modern style.
Choosing the shape of the tubes. Cutting them in the right length like the cyclist needs them. Building the structure, traditional or sloping geometry. Then the binding depending an the cyclists weight and those “little” for the cyclist important details.
Not only the alignment has to be checked on the test bench.
The painting can be no paint. What is the most demanding paint job anyway. Steel still has to be cataforesi treated, Inox needs special brazing and transparent protection. The colour, the graphics, decals, masking film and airbrush or even the old fashioned stickers are still used for some details. Some parts have to be chromed, gold plated, panthographed or engraved.
Massimo and Luca produce lugged steel frames like the Campionissimo, the Linea Oro and the Monza, silver filet brazed steel frames like the Inox, the Espresso and the Laser, special aluminum frames for cycle cross, audax or track racing, hand made carbon frames likethe Aliena and the Marte and two special edition frames in Steel and in Carbon “80 Years memory of Gianni Casati”.
No selling please!
It takes a long time for a cyclist to decide for a new frame. It starts with small little “wishes” and ends with a clear concept how it should be. Very rare size, colour, brand and quality what you find in a shop matches accidentally what a cyclist wanted to have. The seller may praise his products. But the customers will know that this is what the seller had to order many month ago to be served by a mass production brand. No, today many cyclists go for their own ideas. They will ask what is possible, what is reasonable. They will apreciate good advice but not a pushy seller who wants to sell what is in stock. A good consultant will inform about sizes, colour options, material, weight, design, safety, functionality and warranty. About what is possible and what is good. And then help the cyclist to get what he really wants.
A satisfied customer is the best marketing for a little family business. The touch up colours which come with every frame are as important as fair warranty handling and services like repairing and repainting a frame after some years.