Sarto – carbon craftsmen
Sarto – tube to tube carbon craftsmen
15th November 2012
Sarto, ‘tailors’ combining artisan values and high tech materials
There can be little doubt that the huge demand for high tech carbon bicycles has also spurred on the demand for bike frames made from other materials as well, no doubt for some by revulsion at the mere thought of carbon – the ‘steel is real’ brigade – but mainly by growing the overall bicycle market as carbon makes cycling more appealing and attractive to the tech savvy consumer. This then has a knock on benefit as cyclists then explore frames made of other materials.
To keep up with carbon the alloy manufacturers have had to up their game and produce ever better materials from which to make their tubes, but the bicycle frame is still a thing of the craftsman who builds it and not just the tubeset or even the material it is made from. It is interesting that many people claimed that carbon would be, or still is going to be, the death of the bicycle frame building craftsman, but as this video shows, the truth is completely the opposite.
The new generation of carbon craftsmen are well known and renowned, take US builder Parlee for example. Often they have turned their skill with metal alloys into skill with carbon and such is the case, in a similar vein to the French builder, Cyfac, whose video we showed recently here, with this video that shows Italian shop, Sarto, working with carbon tubes.
Just as Reynolds or Columbus make an alloy tube designed to meet certain criteria, so too must a carbon manufacturer assign a tube the correct properties, a skill similar to that applied to a monocoque frame via the design process and carbon lay-up; but would you call the tube maker, or even the Taiwanese manufacturer of monocoques, craftsmen?
Controversially we might, but surely no one could possibly deny that the tube to tube carbon frame builder is a true craftsman for, as you will see in this video the care, precision, finish and sheer amount of human graft that goes into each frame is reminiscent of days gone by, long before monocoque construction, that leads to one thing – a very special product indeed.
Sarto actually means ‘tailor’ in Italian and naturally they only build hand-made tube to tube frames. They claim to be the first builder in Italy to use carbon fibre as a frame building material. Sarto as a brand is much less well known than Pinarello or Colnago, more of a well kept secret, allegedly making bespoke frames behind the scenes for such bigger brands and for the pros.
Just as fellow Italian builder Billato reportedly made special frames for a famous Tour winner when steel was just giving way to aluminium as the frame material of choice, so too its is rumoured that pros now turn to Sarto to build them that ‘special’ in carbon, suitably disguised as their own team’s sponsored frame. The list of names Sarto claim to have worked for is like a who’s who of Italian cycling and makes you wonder what issues these riders have with their own team frame? To what extent the truth is in these claims, the chances are, we will never know for sure and that’s quite a nice thing; it wouldn’t be anything special if it wasn’t a ‘secret’.
Of course there are other Italian shops that use tube to tube carbon techniques to good effect, such as Viner and even Colnago on their top of the range models. Despite all of the technology and claims afforded carbon monocoques, for many, just as for many there is still nothing to touch a bespoke Italian suit, these shops continue Italy’s fine tradition for producing the best bicycle frames in the world.