Imagine walking through the door of the Officina Battaglin workshop, where steel frames are still built by hand.
A hissing noise is filling the air. Right in front of you, you see the frame builder at work. He's holding a brass rod in one hand, and he's just fired up the braze torch in the other. He's moving them carefully around the joint of the frame he's building.
If you're familiar with this process, you might think that a classic lugged frame is taking shape.
You'll be amazed to see that object being built from steel tubing and cast lugs
looks radically different from what you'd expect.
The most comfort-enhancing frame construction pushed further than ever before while honoring the Italian legacy
Giovanni Battaglin, the man behind his eponymous brand Officina Battaglin, wanted to modernize the overall look of a lugged bike built with the traditional Italian techniques.
That’s how the Portofino project was started: the creation of a lugged steel frame bringing all the modern features you would expect from a road bike. It bears the name of an Italian village known all over the world for its breathtaking scenery.
As a bicycle manufacturer in the field since 1981, Giovanni Battaglin has thousands of lugged frames under his belt.
But to create something that didn’t exist, he had to start from scratch.
The engineering process took place at the Battaglin headquarter, over the course of almost two years.
3 major challenges Giovanni Battaglin faced to revolutionize lugged construction
1. DEVELOPING CUSTOM SPECS FOR COLUMBUS SPIRIT HSS TUBING
The steel bicycle frame is a bunch of tubes joined together, and the tube set play a significant part in defining the shape of the frame: the first impression you'll get of a road bike will always come from the tubing silhouette.
With its thin walls and oversize profiles, the triple-butted Columbus Spirit HSS were Giovanni's first choice.
We chose the standard version of the top tube and of the big, fat down tube that accommodates wider graphics, making for a contemporary look.
However, to exploit the full potential of this design, we asked Columbus to produce our own specifications for the seat tube, the rear stays and the tapered head tube.
The 1”⅛ 1”¼ head tube is CNC-machined, to maintain the tubing’s properties
2. NEW LUG SHAPES
If you like the kind of springy feel that only a steel frame can give, then you should include a lugged frame into your wish list.
But how exactly do lugs make your days in the saddle so enjoyable?
Lugs are small steel sleeves that surround the tubes at the joints. When brazing, the builder melts a brass rod into the tiny space between the tube and the lugs.
Brass has a lower melting point than steel, so it creates strong bonds without overheating steel (excessive heat can be very dangerous for the integrity of lightweight and thin-walled tubing like the Columbus Spirit HSS).
The lugs also increase the joint area, allowing stresses to distribute over a wider surface and therefore damping vibrations better. That's why the old lugged steel racing bikes are still the most comfortable bikes ever built.
From the beginning, the purpose of the Portofino project was changing the status quo of lugged construction so you can benefit from a level of comfort you've never experienced on a contemporary racing bike.
To achieve that, we needed to create lugs in specific shapes and diameters that could accommodate the oversize tubing. It was especially challenging with the head tube, and we're proud to say that the Portofino features the first-ever set of lugs designed for a tapered steering.
3. SHAPING A STATE-OF-THE-ART PROPRIETARY CARBON FORK
Since the arrival of modern steel tubing, the combination with a carbon fork has proved to be an effective way to save weight and add stiffness.
The Portofino will work only with our proprietary carbon fork, designed with a specific offset to match the head tube lug.
Classic geometry with horizontal top tube
Do you remember that there was a time when racing bikes could be built in almost twenty different sizes?
A time when just a few millimeters could make all the difference in improving the pedaling efficiency and the comfort of the cyclist.
It was the age of classic geometries with a horizontal top tube. The frame builder had to know exactly how to transfer the cyclist's body proportions to the frame.
With the Portofino, we're offering 1-centimeter size increments to build a frame that will fit you perfectly.
However, what really makes the Portofino's sizing process unique is Giovanni's experience in the field with all-time champions.
He's the only Grand-Tour winner managing a bicycle brand in person, and that's something you'll feel when you ride a Portofino bike built from scratch for you, after discussing with him how the geometry influences the ride feel
BSA bottom bracket - 4 advantages of using the most reliable solution available these days
The BSA bottom bracket is the best solution we could choose for the Portofino.
The BSA thread has stood the test of time, showing to be the most efficient standard among all the different options available these days.
Here are the 4 advantages of using a BSA-threaded shell:
the bottom bracket will be easier to install;
it will be quicker too;
it will be more durable than any other system;
you won't have annoying loosening problems. When you go out riding, the last thing you want is having a bottom bracket that keeps loosening up ;
The large slot under the bottom bracket shell has two functions:
shaving the weight of the lug by removing material;
improving the cable routing if you choose a mechanical groupset, ensuring a hassle-free assembly of the complete bike ;
A lightweight carbon plate closes the cavity, keeping everything in place.
No finish is as mesmerizing as the cromovelato. For a frame named after one of the most beautiful Italian destinations, we chose the most stunning Italian combination of polishing, chrome-plating and painting.
Engraving is the most distinctive way to adorn a steel frame with tasteful details. However, if not done properly, it can also lead to damaging the tubing. That's why we rely on the advice of our pantographer, who has decades of experience in etching bicycle parts.