Handbuilt Bicycle News



Paul Skilbeck

Monday 15 January 2018

Battaglin's e-guide to gravel bikes

Alessandro Battaglin's new online guide to the reasons for gravel riding and equipment specification for custom gravel bikes is a personal account that pours years of experience into a useful 18-page read.

Battaglin's e-guide to gravel bikes
Battaglin's guide to gravel bikes is a quick and useful read

A big part of HBG centers on making it easier for people in the handbuilt custom bikes market to assemble the best bike from a confusingly wide array of parts and standards. Battaglin family scion, Alessandro, has written an engaging booklet that puts the focus on important equipment choices that will make the difference between a good bike and a great one.

The son of Vuelta and Giro winner, Giovanni Battaglin, Alessandro has embraced the family’s cycling culture, which includes both racing and manufacturing bicycles.

His appreciation of cycling was changed dramatically several years ago when he was clipped by a car mirror while cycling on the roads. This event instilled in Alessandro one of the intrinsic values of gravel road riding: the tranquil enjoyment of roads less travelled by motorized vehicles.

Alessandro Battaglin’s guide to gravel bicycles thus comprises partly his own motivation for off-road cycling, which comes out in the text. Italian roads, he tells us with a heavy heart in the first few pages, are becoming unsafe for cycling.

The second half of the guide is based on his long experience with bicycle manufacturing and provides expert technical guidance. This is not only to parts, materials and geometry, but also to fabrication processes. While he is obviously promoting his family's business, nonethelss the information is relevant and should be very useful to customers at very least in prompting the right questions to be asking of a frame builder through your bicycle's development.

On the latter point, a compressed history of his family’s bicycle building experience may be relevant. In 1982, Giovanni Battaglin parlayed his huge successes of 1981 (a Vuelta and a Giro win in only 48 days)  into a manufacturing entity. He set up Battaglin Cicli, a frame building company, and soon was providing frames to many of the world’s top cyclists, including Stephen Roche who won the Giro, the Vuelta and the Tour all in one season riding a Battaglin frame in 1987. In its heyday, Battaglin produced 300 frames a day. The company's Italian factory scaled back dramaticaly in 1994, when most of the world’s cycling production was being done in China and Taiwan, but in 2014 it returned as Officina Battaglin, producing custom steel frames.

A sidebar to this was Full Dynamix, an off-road brand launched by Alessandro in the late 1990s, which is now moving into gravel cycling.

Alessandro was a young child when his father started a frame building company, and has grown up as a workshop brat. He brings a lifetime of experience in his family’s frame building business to this concise guide to ordering a gravel frame and specifying its components. It is an informative read by a person with a passion for bicycles and a considerable knowledge of what it takes to make bikes that ride well.