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"I can ride the Portofino for hours and hours, and it keeps on being comfortable. No more sore back!"
That is the term I use to describe the most incredible bike I have ever owned, my Officina Battaglin Portofino Disc.
I fondly remember first seeing the Officina Battaglin Portofino when it was introduced, in rim-brake version, with cromovelato lacquer in Italian colours.
It immediately struck me as a piece of cycling art, a gorgeous marriage between old-school looks and modern technology.
At the time, I had no room in my lineup since I had just finished building my Colnago C60 Disc. I really liked that Colnago, but it always remained a little dull, I guess. Fun to ride, but understated looks.
Then came the introduction of the Marosticana SLX, and I was selected as one of the ten proud owners worldwide to have one of those framesets.
When it was finished, it was very nice to ride on the flats, but not so much in the mountains; my size 64 is a little too big for the frame to remain adequately stiff. But oh my, what a beauty!
So when the Portofino Disc was introduced, I immediately knew that that would be the bike to replace my aging Colnago. And so it went!
The building process
After consulting with Alex about the bike and the possibilities, it became clear that this bike could be everything I was looking for in a road bike, combined in one gorgeous package.
We discussed my preferred geometry, and Alex was very helpful and informative during the many calls, emails, and video conferences.
He even showed me an unfinished headtube to convince me that the stiffness of the Portofino would be on another level compared to the Marosticana.
I stressed that this would be a bike for the Alpes, Dolomites, and Pyrenees, and he assured me it would be up to the task.
When every aspect of the bike was discussed, the production started.
Colour and decals were clear for me from the start of the project; Cromovelato Blu, with chrome and white decals. Super Record EPS Disc, Bora WTO Ultra 33, Deda Alanera and Superleggero.
The production of the frame was a strenuous exercise in patience, something I do not have in surplus.
Looking back at it, one might revel in the old school, not too hasty way of working. And oh my, was it worth it.
Unpacking the frame felt like going back to a birthday in your childhood; anxiousness, happiness, exuberance.
It was perfect. Just what I expected, technically speaking, but just so incomprehensibly handsome and elegant. You can only experience this when holding such a frame in your hands.
The cromovelato blu it’s so deep, the chrome lugs so shiny… The pictures don’t do it justice.
I enjoyed building the frame, carefully assembling all the parts, and creating a true cycling masterpiece.
Guiding the brake hoses and EPS cables was no problem due to the attention to detail in the frame construction.
When it was finished, my dream bike had come true.
The ride feel
So, how does it ride?
This bike is amazing, it simply is!
I rode it in every possible entourage; flats, hills, mountains, rough roads, and paper smooth ones, dry and wet. It just delivers.
Handling is exactly what I was looking for; stable at high speeds but nimble through the corners. Light-footed when jacking up gas and comfortable when cruising along.
I can ride it for hours and hours, and it keeps on being comfortable; no more sore back, no more juggled underarms, despite really going for it.
Exiting a corner feels a little lighter than it actually is, and you can accelerate very fast.
Some bikes are equally fast in low-speed corners/high-speed exits, but they tend to feel twitchy when navigating flowy, rolling corners.
Not the Portofino. It feels like it is mounted on train tracks; just put your knee down, and the bike will follow any radius you throw at it, even at 80+ km/hour.
Climbing with a steel bike is also something else; not as light as many carbon bikes these days, but so much more composed.
It feels like it climbs with you, crawling up the mountains in a very controlled, smooth way.
Very pleasing for the mind!
This is the bike I was looking for, and I am so happy Officina Battaglin made it possible!
As Wikipedia states, a grand tourer (GT) is a type of car designed for high speeds and long-distance driving, due to a combination of performance and luxury attributes.
How fitting is that description to the Portofino. I have had multiple high-end road bikes, but they all concentrated on one or two aspects of road riding.
The Portofino doesn’t compromise on anything; it just shines in every aspect!