In the seventies, in the back of a sheet with architectural drawings by Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian historian discovered what would be the first drawing of a bicycle. Supposedly drawn in 1493 by the famous artist and inventor, the first version had a rough appearance of what would be the bicycle a few centuries later. Despite the truth of this drawing be the subject of discussion among historians, the controversy shows the patriotic commitment of Italians in reap the rewards of one of the most iconic inventions in history.
Despite the Draisienne, one of the first bicycles (without pedals) to be produced, was created in 1817 by Karl von Drais baron in Germany and subsequent developments have been developed beyond the Alps, the Italians have become an essential symbol of bicycles and international cycling from the late nineteenth century. Classic races such as Milan-San Remo, one of the oldest ones still disputed; the Giro d'Italia, which appeared in 1909; emblematic cyclists as Fausto Coppi or Gino Bartali; or manufacturers such as Colnago or Bianchi made Italy one of the countries more associated to bicycles.
In Italy, as elsewhere in Europe, the bicycle, which was the means of transportation of the masses until the mid-twentieth century, was replaced by the automobile after the war. In the last decade, for reasons related to urban rationality and a return to the style of the past, the pedal powered vehicle returned to urban areas internationally, but with special elegance in the Italian cities. In the streets of Milan you can easily see men with their Barena jackets, Incotex pants and Fratelli Rossetti shoes pedaling in their classic bikes, the true 'Sprezzatura' on wheels. If not a vintage model, it is very likely that one of these bicycles is an Abici, one of the Italian brands starting this revivalist movement.
Founded in 2005 by three friends from Lombardy and the Emilian province - Giuseppe Marcheselli, Stefano Seletti and Cristiano Gozzi - Abici is the current interpretation of classic bikes of our imagination. "It was a passion that was born in a tavern, between a bottle of 'Lambrusco' and a plate of 'Tortelli'" said Seletti.
"It started with catalogs from the fifties, we wanted to create a nostalgic bicycle, but high-tech at the same time, one that was according with our taste. The perfect combination of beauty and technical elements, a simple bike without too many logos or optionals, as most brands on the market. Abici introduced the lifestyle bicycles and inspired all other manufacturers ", concludes Cristiano Gozzi.
Despite Abici being based on classical models, their bicycles stand out for their contemporary design and attention to detail, eliminating all that is unnecessary or superfluous in its construction. "As the famous Coco Chanel said, 'you can always take something of a beautiful dress,'" recalls Gozzi. Inspired by old bicycle catalogs from local artisans and icons such as the Fiat 500, the Lambretta or Vespa, Abici embodies the style and form of Italian know-how, presenting bikes with steel frames in "its purest form, without cables or props, in which sensuality is evident, making them recognizable”, said Seletti enthusiastically.
From London to New York via Paris and Copenhagen, Abici became not only the ideal vehicle to get from A to B, but also an object of desire, a clear reference to the golden age of urban cycling, with an eye in the future, to ride in the present day. It was this same attitude towards design that has led many recognized brands to adopt the Abici as the election cycle to campaigns or special editions. After Granturismo Donna in green for Kate Spade was launched in 2011, Abici partnered with Moynat the next year to develop another limited edition bicycle, in which the elegant black frame and details, such as the saddle and the handlebars, combined in an exemplary manner with the picnic bag emblazoned with the famous monogram of the French house.
Despite the international success of Abici, Italy has never ceased to be the reference point of the brand. "All bikes are produced here, including the frame. The label 'Made in Italy' is very important to us because it is the only way to build bikes with a high standard of quality. There is only one person that assembles the bicycle from start to finish, we have no production line, as such we can concern ourselves with every detail and spend the right time on each", said Seletti, which is an unconditional lover of Sveltina model Uomo, an elegant urban bike. "I love the design of this model so much with its 8 speed gearshift, sports stem and handlebar, allowing it to be used on longer rides, as I did with my artist friend Maurizio Cattelan from Milan to Cremona, a beautiful experience”. Cristiano Gozzi highlights the Granturismo Uomo as his bike of choice. "It was the first we have created. All the conceptual work was carried out in this model and the rest of the collection was inspired by this first bicycle. When creating the Granturismo, we developed a concept that we wanted to eliminate everything possible from common bikes that were on the market at that time. The idea was to be the most essential as possible."
Agreeing that the bicycle is a style accessory for men, Stefano Seletti states that above all it should be a means of transportation. "Our heroes are the people who use them daily as transport, helping to reduce pollution and traffic." Cristiano Gozzi adds: "I think it is very important to start educating our children and teach them that it’s 'cool' when riding a bicycle and respecting the environment and not when driving an expensive car. Some media are promoting bicycles more than before, but unfortunately most are doing it because now it is fashionable. I agree that if you ride a bicycle it should be in a beautiful one, and that's what we do. We produce bicycles with style, but it is important to understand the full meaning of the bike. We are now experiencing a very important change: the systems in which we lived for years are collapsing, we need to slow down, think about what we are doing, we need to respect the environment. The world does not belong to us, we have to take care of it for future generations". And Abici could not be doing it in a better way.
More about Abici here.
Originally published in 12 Magazine.