Lead Out

When it comes to the Pas­soni Fidia, it’s best to ig­nore the pric­etag and revel in the en­gi­neer­ing Words JAMES SPENDER Pho­tog­ra­phy TA­PES­TRY

Cyclist - - Contents -

Pas­soni’s ul­tra-pre­mium Fidia New gear from Spe­cial­ized, Mavic, Eas­ton, Sch­molke and more For­mer pro Phil Gai­mon on life as a do­mes­tique and speak­ing out against dop­ing Are sus­pen­sion sys­tems on road bikes a mar­ket­ing gim­mick or a vi­sion of the fu­ture? How An­drew Low is re­defin­ing our un­der­stand­ing of alu­minium bikes Why knit­ted shoes are not woolly think­ing In praise of the broom wagon, and the man who drives the bus that no one wants to catch Frank Strack on whether flu­oro can be classy

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.

Pol­ished jew­els

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

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