By James Bracey
Giovanni Battaglin is a name many associate with some of the most heroic racing efforts of the 70s and early 80s, including an epic Vuelta/Giro double in '81. Soon after that success, the rider started building custom Battaglin steel bikes for pros and the general public alike.
Decades moved on and Giovanni's production crew grew, with his son Alex coming on board alongside others. The brand been responsible for some of the most beautiful bikes ever created, in our opinion - and this includes the new Portofino Disc.
The steel Portofino frame has been in the Officina Battaglin collection since 2017 and has been garnering admiration thanks to its blend of modern, high-tech Columbus HSS steel tubing and old-school lugged construction. It's these lugs that make it stand out from the raft of steel re-imaginings of old race bikes, giving the Portofino its distinctive look.
This new version differs only in terms of the brakes, as Giovanni says: “Even if it’s built with lugs like the Italian frames I raced in my career, it’s a modern frame. Disc brakes were a natural progression."
This said, it hasn't just been a case of simply tacking on a disc mount to the rear of the frame. The bottom bracket shell had to be replaced with a TIG welded version, making it stiff enough to deal with the extra torsional twisting caused by the increasing chainstay length disc brakes warrant.
Limited to just 70 frame sets in 2020, each one will be completely custom built for the owner. The process starts with a visit to Giovanni Battaglin and his team to get a full set of measurements that will be used to create a frame specific to the owners sizing and cycling needs.
All of the bikes will be finished in a customisable Cromovelato finish. Cromovelato is distinctive Italian finish typical of the bikes from the 80s that creates a translucent colour over a chrome-plated steel frame. It is achieved by polishing the frame to a mirror shine before the chrome-plating process, and then painting the chrome with coloured lacquer. The result? Quite possibly the most sumptuous, mirror-like finisher seen on a bicycle frame.
The price for a fully custom, disc-brake Portofino frame is €3600 and includes a custom steel frame built to the owner's measurements, colour matched carbon fork, custom colours or custom Cromovelato finish. In addition, each frame will be individually numbered.
More information can be found on Officina Battaglin's website.
When you consider the price of an off-the-shelf Pinarello Dogma F12 Disc frameset is £5,200, what you get with the Battaglin Portofino could feel more palatable.
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