While Officine Mattio may not be as instantly recognisable in South Africa as Bianchi, Colnago, Pinarello etc. they are doing something quite special. Rather than pulling everything from frame building to paint to graphic design out of Italian hands and pushing it over the ocean to the far east, Officine Mattio are staying home and bringing together some of the best talent available on the boot, making the Italian cycling industry stronger.
A SPECIAL COMPANY
The company itself is located in Cuneo Italy, tucked in between the historic climbs to the west of Sestriere and Briancon (FR) as well as Monte Viso, (where Officine Mattio get its logo) and the incredible beauty of the wine and truffles region of Alba/Barolo/ Langhe (UNESCO World Heritage site) to the North east. Straight south and you have the Ligurian sea, and its destinations like San Remo, with Monaco and Nice just down the coast.
Officine Mattio’s New Headquarters
This is a spectacular region for cycling, with every imaginable terrain, and exceptional villages spread throughout roads that seem to have only a fraction of the traffic of some of Italy’s other riding hot spots.
I had the pleasure of several days in this region with Officine Mattio’s chief Giovanni Roffarello (left) along with my long time friend Soren Krebs (Officine Mattio’s US distributor) and it was a refreshing and pointed story that has given me hope for Italy’s cycling future.
With the sun setting on Monte Viso, the mountain that is Officine Mattio’s logo, we got together to talk about their vision of not only bringing more riders to this fantastic region, but helping to rebuild the heart and sole of Italian cycling manufacturing.
We’ll have a deeper dive into the company and their all-Italian Builder line up another time, but this is a bike review after all… so while Officine Mattio offer bikes in traditional Lugged steel, Tig welled Stainless and tube-to-tube constructed carbon (all available in full custom geometry, we decided that the latest offering in monocoque construction would be the first bike to try and that would be their most recent offering, The OM1.
And this OM1 is not just any old frameset. As I had the chance to travel around Northwest Italy with long-time friend and OM North America’s distributor Soren Krebs, I met with the team at Officine Mattio and wound up with the bike that should actually be hanging on the wall of their new (and very slick) Headquarters. This is OM1 Numero Uno.
Officine Mattio have several models available and the lineup is going through a few changes. The OM1 is actually a stock-sized model but Officine Mattio’s bread and butter has been custom (steel and carbon). With that, we met with their partner for carbon fabrication and were on hand for the first build up of their new Lemma…
This isn’t your run of the mill frame maker… Located in the hills above Genoa, on the coast of the Ligurian, this shop is where a large portion of the carbon fibre you’ll see on pumped up street and GT race versions of some of the quickest vehicles on the planet.
You don’t normally find diffusers and engine covers sitting around your typical frame shop…
The molds for most Officine Mattio models are smaller and made for Individual tube forming fabrication, but fear not… The autoclave here is not afraid of “LARGE”…
The larger molds for the OM1 are an internal high pressure form and external machined mold (I’ve manipulated the image to knock out some detail). These are fairly quickly (but also fairly expensive) created from solid machining and post machining process that allow for some dynamic shaping, with conservative transitions from section to section.
This conservative design means fewer but longer pieces of carbon that run all the way through the joints and complex areas, where less advanced molding processes require multiple smaller pieces placed around the joints making a less solid structure (using more material and requiring more resin between the pieces).
Believe me, the folks handling this work understand how to make a few complex parts that deal with substantially higher than typical cycling loads…
A host of molds for Ferrari and Lamborghini bits here, and this is a fraction of what’s on site
The conservative design doesn’t mean that this isn’t still a complex construct.
THERE ARE 230 INDIVIDUAL PIECES of Torayca T700s carbon fiber in the main triangle alone. These pieces are unidirectional and precision cut to size and shape. And these sizes and shapes are altered for each size of frame.
These are hand laid into 5 layers, directing the fibers piece by piece to create the requested stiffness and compliance.
At a glance (ESPECIALLY IN BLACK), the finished product looks simple and the tubes look nearly round, but other than the front section of the head tube and most of the seat tube, there’s nearly nothing round or constant in diameter from end to end.
The Top Tube doesn’t look like a box section…
But it is… Shaped to help resist bending side to side which keeps the Head Tube from twisting as much under power.
The Down Tube looks round as well…
While the central section is a bit more rounded, this is still a box section tube even toward the center.
The end of the Down Tube is nearly square at the head tube. You can pick this out as the internal routing cable ports situate themselves…
The Down Tube flattens to a chubby rectangle at the bottom. The shapes at the Head and Bottom help to resist the lateral bending force (more so than twisting) that happens at both the Head Tube and the Bottom Bracket.
A compact rear triangle is stiff and keeps the back wheel tracking true.
An added benefit of the small rear end (and it’s flattened section seat stays ending well below the Top Tube/Seat Tube joint) is that this will push road/ride vibration and impact forces into the side of the seat tube. Making bumps and vibrations change direction rather than giving them a straight shot to your ass makes for better damping and a smoother ride.
The OM1 also Officine Mattio’s own fork.
Tapering the steer tube from 1-1/8 to 1-1/4inch (top) allows for some tube flex/spring at the stem (and added comfort). Internal hydraulic cable routing is standard.
Another area where a smaller diameter tube is welcome is the seat post. A standard 27.2, and substantial exposed seat post with the sloping geometry to allow for some flex and forgiveness to the saddle.
Officine Mattio are also handling their own paint work. In fact, I was in for the first trip over to what is now their newly operating larger paint facilities.
This was just open warehouse when we arrived, but another multi-generational group of talent will bring their smaller existing operation in and use this space to full effect. Ah, and they knew the right way to open the doors…
The finish for this OM1 was as basic as Officine Mattio do. Single color, laid with care. But the finishing group are well versed with custom finishes…
Most of the models Officine Mattio make are full custom, and the paint can be whatever it needs to be (which will cost whatever it needs to cost mind you).
And, just like the frames are laid up, this is all handled one at a time, made to specification by a crew that love what they’re doing.
Another stop on the first day of this trip was into Vicenza Italy, and the group that came from a slightly larger Italian Headquarters is what we’ve built into the OM1.
This is the pinnacle of mechanical shifting in cycling today. 12 speeds, handled with positive indexing that is at once solid, crisp and precise.
There are too many upgrades to mention here versus the outgoing 11 speed system, but a ground up geometry and mechanical change for Campagnolo are throughout the levers and right down to the smaller details that seem to be missed by most… One of my favorite bits here is uprated 12 tooth jockey wheels on better rollers.
The whole thing looks like some sort of elaborate bit that you might find tucked secretly behind a Formula 1 steering wheel to secretly adjust suspension settings, so you would be forgiven for not noticing that the top jockey wheel also sits further forward than other groups, meaning the chain wraps more fully around the smaller cogs… The details here are incredible.
Disc braking modulation on Campagnolo’s groups is also, in my opinion, class leading.
Campagnolo did an outstanding job initially to their disc group, and a few running changes have been made to make these the quietest disc set up currently available, with very good lever return force and a pad compound that allows for feedback to the levers that gives the rider the feel needed for fine force adjustment.
ON THE ROAD
The OM1 is a very good all rounder, designed more toward comfort than most of their models, but it’s also better as a climber and quicker to accelerate than Officine Mattio give it credit.
That makes sense when you spend a few days with the company boss… I don’t think “slow” is a speed he’s comfortable with on any bike.
Officine Mattio give this bike a 100% on the comfort scale and driving pleasure and a 90% on handling, but only a 70% for acceleration, 75% for climbing and a 60% for aero… I think they undersell the climbing and acceleration, at least on feel… (maybe their technical testing for flex translates differently than my butt-dyno).
My guess is the bike’s weight distribution and carbon layup make for the snappier feel. I think the weight is down low (despite the relatively tall head tube for a 54). Making for a bike that feels lighter up high in the hands.
That eagerness to be tossed around out of the saddle is what you might expect from a climbing bike. BUT with lots of light weight climbers, there can sometimes be a penalty in a buzzy/chattery ride because frame makers feel like they have to overcompensate with carbon type and layup to maximize stiffness when there is so little material used. But with Officine Mattio putting the focus first on comfort, the OM1 has a layup that simply allows a bit more flex than their all-out performance models. And this despite the 870 gram frame-weight spec.
The comfort here is very good. I don’t think it lands the 100%, as I have a few other bikes that roll a bit smoother. BUT all of them are either heavier than the OM1 and/or are rolling on larger rubber (or both). Two of these bikes simply don’t have the OM1’s acceleration and light feel (they’re 10-15% down in that area), though they do have a point or two smoother ride. That’s a net win on points for the OM1.
I do have one bike that has the comfort and also has better acceleration feel than the OM1 (and it’s custom Italian)… But it also has a retail price for the custom frame and fork that is nearly double the OM1.
AH! Now might be a good time to tell you that all of this hand laid carbon monocoque goodness lands in your hands for US$3999 (frame/fork/small bits). And that’s for either the Disc or Rim brake model. Toss in a few hundred and you can color this with Officine Mattio’s bike builder.
That’s a hell of a deal for something this good given most all Italian things cost close to double this price… Especially so when you consider that a lot of Italian branded product doesn’t make so much as their decals in Italy.
But that’s what Officine Mattio are all about… Being Italian, and Piemontese at that.
And who could blame them. This is an incredibly passionate group of people with a nearly fanatical leader who’s all about showing you what Italian’s can do with a bicycle.
And they wouldn’t mind showing you where and how to use it.
One of their frequent stops as part of the tours available through Officine Mattio Adventures is La Rola Bed and Breakfast (Albaretto Della Torre IT) an incredibly beautiful place overlooking the hills and vineyards, tucked just across the street from the bell tower here.
That’s the Officine Mattio Team car in the courtyard of La Rola just across from the bell tower
Officine Mattio have everything from training camps to race following trips to custom itinerary capacity and the professionalism is exceptional. But this professionalism doesn’t get in the way of the sheer joy of being on the road that seems to permeate everyone in this not so little organisation.
Officine Mattio’s exclusive South African Importer is BikeBay.
Officine Mattio and BikeBay are pleased to share that they are in the process of expanding their retail Partner network with much interest from retailers. To meet customer demand where no Officine Mattio Partners are established, Officine Mattio frames can be purchased by contacting BikeBay directly who will place you in contact with the nearest retailer.
You can find more at: OfficineMattio.com