When we first saw a Pegoretti bike a couple of years ago the initial reaction was that the steel frame was a canvas for an artist. Since we paid a visit to Dario’s workshop in the hills of Trentino in Italy, our opinion hasn’t changed, but it has evolved.
Dario is indeed an artist. It is evident from the moment we meet him and sit across the coffee table in his ‘living room’ at the very entrance to the workshop. His long grey hair offers him an eccentricity afforded only the most creative of minds. His appreciation for embodiment of objects is a testimony to this. In this new space, which his workshop has occupied since 2012, pieces of wall where he would test paint colours in the old place, hang like pieces of artwork, complete with messages from hands of years past. Elsewhere, the living room is filled with mementos and gifts that have been given to him over the years, as well as an accompanying story that belongs to each one of them.
It is in the living room that Dario often comes during his working day to clear his mind and search for inspiration by drinking coffee, smoking and listening to Jazz and Blues.
Dario has been making bikes for a number of years (actually 40, but he wouldn’t want to be reminded of this) In the early years, he was a contractor for large companies after serving as an apprentice for Luigino Milani where he worked on frames for the likes of Miguel Indurain, Marco Pantani and Stephen Roche. Since 1998 he has been making frames under his own name. He now has four people helping him in his workshop, carrying out different roles that enable him to spend time on the things that really add value to each bike they produce.
His creations are made from Columbus steel using less than usual tube dimensions. These days 60% of the 380 or so frames he produces a year are stainless steel. People are less keen to carry out the care work and treatment you need to do to steel frames, for them stainless steel is perfect.
The frames he produces have custom geometry designed around the body and riding style of the client. Like most frame makers he works from data he gets from the fitting process, often carried out by the shop selling the bike, but says he puts more emphasis on the measurements of the actual person and always likes to see a video of them cycling, before deciding on the geometry of the bike.
Every year he produces a series of stock frames with standard sizes but in limited numbers as well as a different paint scheme each season.
All too often do we refer to bicycle makers as artists, but it was never closer to the truth than with Dario. Like a true artist working on a commission he will not be directly dictated by the client. He emphasized that he can be advised on the colour scheme but that is all. Of course he does take direction when it is sensible. I was once asked if I would paint a polar bear on the top tube, swimming in an arctic pool. I am not even sure how I would do this on a 31.7mm tube.
Looks like the cycling world is full of fantasy…