Old hands turn new tricks with this race-bred Italian custom build
This bike began life on the back of a beer mat. Admittedly that beer mat was then photographed, emailed and digitally rendered in CAD by Epoca, but nonetheless, it started out as a badly drawn pipedream that I honestly never thought would happen. After all, who would ever decide it was a good idea to paint an octopus on a bicycle?
Well, Vincenzo Nibali for one. Sort of. The Merida he pedalled in this year’s Giro went for a similar theme, only his was a ribbon wrapped around the head and top tube instead of a cephalopod’s tentacles (and anyway, mine came first). Regardless, the aesthetic is similar, and when Epoca said I could have whatever custom paintjob I wanted for my R60 test bike, I decided on an octopus.
I’m not sure why. It could be something to do with the fact that I was in a pub at the time. Which would explain the beer mat. Anyway, this is how I come to be testing a bespoke Italian carbon bike with an octopus wrapped around the frame.
Epoca is technically only 14 years old, although those behind the brand trace its roots back to 1952 when Mario Bittante set up La Ver Mec in Rosa, Italy, fabricating frames for other brands. As a means of protection against a future in which its contract clients shifted production to the Far East, Bittante, his son Gerardo and son-in-law Valentino Stocchero (who married daughter Patrizia, who also works at the company) decided La Ver Mec should set up a bike brand of its own.
Most of the big Italian marques now fabricate their frames in the Far East, meaning there are few bike companies that can still boast a bicycle entirely made in Italy, and even fewer that can boast as much experience building bicycles as Epoca.
There are pros and cons to the European versus Far Eastern models, but for Epoca the pros are that it can offer fully custom bikes and is able to oversee every step of the process, from the custom-designed tubes
THE SPEC Model Epoca R60 Groupset Campagnolo Super Record Deviations None Wheels Campagnolo Bora Ultra 35 Finishing kit Deda Superzero Alloy bars and stem, Thecno Aero2 seatpost, Selle San Marco Concor Carbon FX saddle Weight 7.30kg Price £8,400 (£4,000 frameset only) Contact epocabikes.com