Marcelo Rvw
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Pegoretti Custom

ProCycling of Great Britain, October 2001

 

"In terms of ride and handling the Marcelo is right up there with the best of them. Of all the bikes available to try at a Megatest in Spain, this was the one I would always recommend to people if they didn't know what to choose."

While many manufactures have plumped for carbon fiber, Pegoretti's Marcelo is made from the finest steel. Robert Millar rides it and loves its springy response.

As far as desirability goes a simple steel bike won't be very high up on the list of the modern day racer or even those who don't seek speed; at least not in this day and age of fat alloy and composite assemblies. Memories of the floppy, bendy attempts of the previous generation to build something lightweight out of steel are hard to forget. Even when the level of performance was acceptable the weight of the frame certainly wouldn't be. To those who have grown up in the carbon-for-everything-and-everywhere era, something made out of a material that might rust must seem prehistoric.

So it could seem a bit pointless to bother with steel tubes at all, unless you want a retro bike like the Indepent Fabrication tested previously, but fundamentally the material does suit bike frames well. A bike like the one Dario Pegoretti has put together shows just what level of performance you can get from the latest tubes built with the latest techniques; it may not look very modern with it's plain white paint and simple graphics, but once ridden, all preconceptions disappear. Dedaciai's EOM tubeset has been widely adopted by many people to make their top steel frames so when the guys who did the development of EOM produce their own tweaked version, something spectacular could well be expected. Having seen the level of craftsmanship and skill used to make these frames on ProCycling's visit to their workshops at the start of last year I can't see any reason why this won't happen. I think I referred to jewelry when I described these so I'm expecting no disappointments.

In terms of ride and handling the Marcelo is right up there with the best of them and of all the bikes available to try at a Megatest I conducted in Spain, this was the one I would always recommend to people if they didn't know what to choose. They soon discovered that behind the simple exterior lies a range of qualities that only come with pedigree machines. All those that rode the steel Pegoretti came back impressed by what it has to offer. The ride, in particular, stands out for its ability to smooth out the constant buzz thrown up from rough surfaced roads like the ones usually present on mountain routes or where the your local council can't be bothered to repair the frost damage from the previous winter.

In fact, despite this machine being equipped with small tires, 19mm section, which usually give a terrible ride on anything but the smoothest surfaces, and also being made by Vittoria, which doesn't do the most supple constructions available, the ride turns out to be better than my fat aluminum tubed mountain bike, which runs a longer wheelbase and fat slicks to soak up the bumps. Despite dulling down the road vibrations, the frame remains responsive and has a liveliness to it that makes it a joy to ride. There is no mistaking that the main frame is constructed from steel tubes, as the characteristic springiness is present to provide a degree of comfort, but the level of stiffness and the speed of reaction are in no way related to steel frames of old.

The fat but thin-walled chainstays and seatstays that are custom drawn for Pegoretti do a great job of coping with the transmission forces, channeling full power to the rear wheel under all circumstances. The rear end-to-stays assembly may look odd and slightly clumsy but the choice of giving the maximum contact area to the parts pays off when it comes to strength and stiffness of the rear triangle.

There is only one position in which the rear wheel skewer can be closed as a result of the massive weld patch but there is no need for a chainstay bridge down near the bottom bracket. It all looks very smooth and neat, with no convoluted shapes or fluting, just nice round, simple tubes proving so effective that it makes you wonder why others do it any other way.

At the front, you get an extended head tube that seems out of place given the simplicity of the rest of the frame. It provides the only visual clue to the modernity of the bike, but it makes sense when you use it. Sweeter steering is hard to find. Slow or fast corners are dispatched with ease. Ask for a change in direction mid-corner and the reaction is as you'd wish; not too slow, not too fast. Bumps don't upset the chosen line when either laying over or on the straight and it never gets too nervous. In fact this bike seems to flatter the rider whatever the level of ability and experience. Good feedback is felt through the all carbon Mizuno forks so you know what the tires are doing.

The general impression of rigidity from the setup is very impressive. The main frame copes with anything you throw at it, either road or pedal input. It may look simple but the ability to handle big chainring with small sprocket power is total. Yet, the bike retains a spring in its step when it comes to climbing on the smaller gears.

On a typical mountain pass this characteristic translates into either using one tooth more and going faster or having an easier time for a given rate of accent. For those looking for a climbers' bike or for those long cyclo-tourist races/rides that are springing up all over the place, it makes perfect sense; the ride soaks up the rough descents, tracking beautifully, while uphill it feels lively and responsive.

The fit and finish is what you would expect from Italian craftsmen, fine welds, smooth lines, and a few little touches to confirm the exclusivity of the work, such as the engraved bracket shell. Mated here to Campagnolo's finest groupset, running on a Nucleon wheelset, the bike feels like it's a pure thoroughbred. You know it's a bike made to be raced but it doesn't intimidate you when you don't want to go any faster, which means you can ride it everyday and still enjoy the experience. The bars and stem, both by Deda, are classy items and as a special request the Pegoretti boys tracked down some 215 handle bars, the classic round shaped ones as used by Lance Armstrong himself. For those who have only had anatomic bars, try these 215's; they are the real thing. Personally, I'd rather have had the titanium seat pin from the Record collection as it's prettier than the WR carbon one on the test bike but that could be due to the oversize diameter at the top of the seat tube. A small irritation, literally, was cradle bolts touching the underneath of the Fizik saddle causing much wriggling of the nether regions as a result, otherwise the saddle was a nice shape.

Conclusion: In a dream world you would have an alloy-tubed Pegoretti for the days when you wanted a tough feeling bike, capable of surviving a typical Belgium classic but when you ventured to the mountains, you would get the steel Marcelo out to play. Beautifully presented and finished, this bike is useable exotica, light but not fragile, simple not dumb. Wonderful!

Translation by Roberto Cagliero