Italian Bicycle Culture
Posted on 12 October 2008
Editors note. After several years of importing heavy Dutch bikes that were built for underwater storage in an Amsterdam canal we realized they weren't for everyone. A great deal of our customers weren't storing their bikes outside year-round but were leaving them inside instead. That meant they might need to lift their bike indoors, which meant they needed a lighter bike that still featured a chainguard and etc. We looked everywhere across our usual stomping grounds in the UK, Denmark and Holland but couldn't find anything (except for Cykelmageren - which we tried - but who wants to pay $2000 for a one speed?). After seeing a review in Monocle Magazine (which we rarely trusted since everyone and their mother were building bikes that made better press releases than bicycles) we decided to take a peek. What we saw shocked us: bicycle cultures to rival Holland but largely unheard of this side of the pond. Abici was the first lightweight city bike to land in North America and was no doubt an influence to our friends at Linus. But, like Linus, Abici bikes didn't last. People ended up leaving them outside anyways and they evaporated in rust. The search for a lighter, high quality bike continued.....
- February 2016
Probably the most wonderful thing in life is to be surprised, especially when you think you just got it all figured out. At Curbside and we spend a great deal of time researching real European city bikes. About two years ago we heard about Abici bikes through a small write up in Tyler Brule’s Monocle magazine. The bikes looked very sexy with their colours and style, but we didn’t know much about the company or Italian bike culture. We're very strict about what we carry. So, we decided to visit.
What we saw shocked us. In smaller Northern Italian cities, like Parma and Ferrera bicycle usage is as high as Copenhagen and Amsterdam (in Ferrara, a whopping 31% of daily trips are made on bike). Everywhere there were bikes locked up, at the train stations, the cafes, the shops, it was a scene straight out of Northern Europe. And the most unusual thing is that very few people know about this. In fact, as we strolled around Parma and Milano taking shots of bikes, we realized that we recognized maybe 1 in 30 brands we saw - which is not something that we’re used to experiencing! Italy, it appears, is much like Japan. It has an amazing bike culture, but it is largely insular and has not been terribly interested in exporting itself.
Yet, like any fine wine or ham, it is waiting to be discovered, and we daresay that it what Abici has finally done. Christiano, the founding partner of Abici told us that the bike companies his grandma once rode are long gone and if there are any left, they have all gone to China. His dream was to bring back the durability and quality of his grandma’s bike in colours and style that is at once modern and classic. The partners of Abici spent nights upon nights roaming Italian streets, looking at the colours of the old Vespas and Fiats.
Then they hired the former steel welders of Italy who have all been laid off as Italian bicycle manufacturing has moved to China, or worse, carbon fiber. Everyone knows Italian bicycle workmanship is the best in the world. What most people didn’t know is that the same quality Italian workmanship available on Italian racing bike has been the same for the little-known Italian city bikes. However, with the decline of the city bike industry in Italy, Abici will be the company to carry the flame of quality not only within Italy, but beyond - and their timing is perfect. To the world of bikes, a company like Abici is a revelation, a company that knows quality and the romance of a bicycle - a relaxed healthy way to get to work, a way to meander and collect oneself, the perfect accessory as one pulls up for a sparkling Brut and proscuitto after work.