When it comes to the Passoni Fidia, it’s best to ignore the pricetag and revel in the engineering Words JAMES SPENDER Photography TAPESTRY
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Passoni is to bicycles what Pagani is to supercars. Haven’t heard of Pagani? It produces supercars that manage to make even a Ferrari look dull.
Cars such as the Zonda R, a 217mph, 739bhp, £1.5 million hypercar that held the Nürburgring course record until March last year. What was its secret? It was the first car made with ‘Carbotanium’, a composite made from carbon fibre and titanium filament, said to be responsible for its incredibly light and stiff chassis. It’s this concept that Passoni has applied to the Fidia.
‘We started exploring this material five years ago,’ explains Passoni’s Danilo Colombo. ‘We visited the Pagani factory and many other firms in aerospace and defence to discuss the characteristics of the material and develop our own “carbo-titanio”. It is expensive and very hard to manipulate into the small shapes of a bike frame, but we stuck with it.’
Titanium filaments make up 5% of the material and are woven into the carbon fibres. They have been created to match the same yield strength and elasticity modulus of the carbon fibres – so both perform similarly when combined – to produce a composite that has superior properties.
‘We produced a traditional carbon fibre frame and a carbo-titanio frame, and testing showed the performance gains were sufficient to go ahead with the new material,’ says Colombo.
‘The titanium increases the stiffness of the tubes and helps damp vibrations. It also adds passive safety. If the structure is hit, the titanium filaments help keep it together instead of breaking into pieces – a reason why this material is used in drone wings, for example.
‘So although we could produce a Fidia frame from traditional carbon fibre that weighs well under 1kg, for all these benefits – stiffness, comfort and durability – we decided the carbo-titanio was worth it.’
At 1,100g (54cm), the Fidia frame is no carbon featherweight. But the riding
experience speaks for itself, reckons Colombo. We’ll let you know what we think in a few months’ time.
The meticulousness and exclusivity of this build is jaw-dropping. As is the price. The Fidia frameset is £6,599, but decked out like this, that rockets to £22,650, give or take a weak pound.
Despite its monocoque appearance, the Fidia is fully custom. Component parts such as the race car grille-style top tube are moulded and joined tube-to-tube by Passoni at its northern Italian atelier. It’s then dressed in topend components and painted to the customer’s spec. But for all the jewels on display, the standout addition to this bike is, wait for it... the hubs.
‘The tubular rims are made by Xentis and laced to Gokiso hubs,’ says Colombo. ‘Gokiso is a Japanese company that makes aircraft engine turbine shafts. The bike hub part of the business is just undertaken by the founder, Kondo-san, as a project of passion to produce the best hubs in the world.’
Machined from 6AL/4V titanium ingot, the front Gokiso Super Climber hub features ‘fingers’ that suspend the inner hub within the flanges – a bike wheel inside a bike wheel. This is said to isolate the axle and bearings from pedalling torque and road shocks that produce uneven loads on the bearings – which compromise longevity and increase rolling resistance. It’s not a dissimilar story in the rear.
Gokiso says the hubs can cope with speeds over 300kmh and an 80kg load (or a 160kg rider), and has tested them at 100kmh for 100,000km with no fails.
If you feel you need such insane engineering, you’ll have to pay around €8,000 to import a pair, says Colombo. Hence, Passoni sells the Fidia’s wheelset for €10,000 (almost £9,000). They aren’t the lightest, at 1,650g, but that isn’t the point of this build.
‘We are a niche producer of very special one-of-a-kind products, and this rarity is important to us. We want every customer to feel special and to have something very few are riding. But nothing we produce is expensive for the sake of being expensive. We have made the very best composite bike we possibly could.’
Passoni Fidia, £6,599 frameset (£22,650 as built), passoni.com