Fausto Pinarello: buon gusto and beautiful bikes

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Burning ambition, a good instinct, and learning to follow your heart: Italian master Fausto Pinarello explains how to make a beautiful bike

Photographs: Pinarello

Pinarello. The very name is synonymous with the most beautiful bikes.

 

From the elegant steel frames of the 1980s through the wacky creations of 1990s and the modern day super bikes for Team Sky, Pinarello has been a source of exotic wonder and lust for three generations.

 

Pinarello bikes are the pinnacle of aesthetic possibility; the poster pin-ups for the bike-obsessed.

 

Speaking at the launch of the new F10 – Pinarello’s latest top level machine – Fausto Pinarello, who took over the running of the family run business from his founding father Giovanni, explains what makes a beautiful bike.

 

Rouleur: So Fausto, another bike, another beauty. What is the secret?

 

Fausto Pinarello: The secret? I don’t know. We are Italian so maybe we recognise something more stylish. I think we have a good style; and we have our own paint shop in the factory, so it’s easier for us to try to make something different, to mix colours and graphics too.

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You, more than most, know about painting bikes…

 

Right. How old are you? Well, I started working in the paint shop when I was 17 years-old, and even today I sometimes still go down there. But maybe we’re just lucky. How do you say gusto in English? Taste? Not taste like food, but the feeling. Maybe I’m lucky to have it.

 

You can measure performance in a wind tunnel or with a computer, but you can’t measure beauty. How do you design for aesthetics?

 

You can play with the shape of the frame in the wind tunnel. You can make a more beautiful frame with the same result. In the end, beauty is something in your mind and in your heart.

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Pinarello has made some very unusual frames in the past. Do you still get a buzz making more ‘conventional’ bikes for the current era?

 

I actually get more excitement working on the new bikes, more so than the older ones. I change my bike something like eight times a year; I change the wheels or the saddle, or the frame. There’s always something new for me. And that pushes me towards whatever the next thing is. That’s inside me. That is what stimulates me.

 

Pinarello is now part of Luis Vuitton Group. Will that change what you do?

 

We’re just starting that partnership now. We are a small company. Other bike companies are huge. I’m really ambitious and I want to stay at the top level; L Catterton [private equity group] won’t be involved with production but it’s very important to have someone who can help you expand your company with marketing and distribution. I don’t want to become a huge company like those in Taiwan or America; we want to stay here, a small, exclusive company.

 

Pinarello remains a family business. How much of what you do is down to that personal ambition?

 

I think many people are ambitious. Look at Dave Brailsford and Team Sky. He and the team are all ambitious. Everyone has to be ambitious, especially when you’re working for yourself. You are here, but why could you not be over there? Ambition is a part of your character, your personality.

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