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Chillout TGIF: Pegoretti Responsorium

a legendary bicycle
by Peter Chong on February 21, 2020
Reviews

In the world of bicycling, the master artisans are much like watchmaking. In today’s Chillout TGIF, I take a look at the Responsorium, a stainless steel frame which is the masterwork of a great Italian frame maker – Dario Pegoretti.

This article was initially published in my own blog in 2012. The original article was edited and brings us to another branch in our exploration of the horological lifestyle – handmade bicycles.

Dario Pegoretti (18 January 1956 – 23 August 2018)

Dario Pegoretti was an Italian bicycle frame builder. Dario designed and built frames that were ridden by professional cyclists Miguel Indurain, Marco Pantani, Stephen Roche, Claudio Chiappucci, Mario Cipollini, and Andrea Tafi among others. He started out as a contract builder, making frames that were then branded by other manufacturers, including some Pinarello models, until the American distributor Giorgio Andretta/GITA convinced him to build under his own name. He supplied comedian Robin Williams with bikes that the actor regularly used and particularly admired; and Williams also gave them as gifts.

Dario Pegoretti. Photo from Dario’s facebook page, posted in Jan 2018.

He was widely considered to be one of the great contemporary steel and aluminum bicycle framebuilders and a pioneer of lugless TIG welded frames. In the world of handmade bicycles, he is considered the master craftsman, and revered much like the Philippe Dufour of the watchmaking world.

Dario used only steel and aluminum to create his frames, primarily using drawn tubes (including custom shapes based on his specifications and designs) from Excell, Dedacciai, and most recently Columbus. His most recent models included the Responsorium, Day is Done, Big Leg Emma, Mxxxxxo, Duende, Luigino, Love #3, and 8:30AM.

Pegoretti Responsorium

I was fortunate enough to be able loan the Responsorium from a good friend, and rode the bicycle as shown for a good 2,000 km over a period of about 3 months.

The Pegoretti Responsorium, with Campagnolo Super Record Groupset.

The Responsorium is the only Pegoretti bicycle in stainless steel and is made from Columbus XCr. The stainless steel tubeset is stronger than regular steel, and allows Dario to use thinner tubes, resulting in a very light bicycle. I didn’t weigh it, but I guess it is sub 7.5kg…this is similar to what is reported by other owners who did weigh their bikes…the lowest I have seen meets the UCI weight limit of 6.8kg with pedals.

Dario is as equally famous for his paintwork and paint schemes as he is for the gorgeous bicycles he makes. This particular bike sports the Goze scheme. The frame is polished XCr, and small polka dot masks are put on the frame. The frame is then painted black, and the masks removed to reveal the shiny inside. Some of the dots are then filled with colour.

The headset, proudly acclaims handmade, with the print of what I suppose is Dario’s palm. The bike is built with 54.8 effective top tube, and a longish head tube, and parallel head tube and seat tube set at 73 degrees…though I have been told, this is approximate, as like the great American framebuilder Richard Sachs, Dario’s angles are by feel, and the right ones.

The chainstays are marked with the birthdate of the frame. Also shown in this photograph, the Mig and Mag hubs by Tune – these are gorgeous hubs…smooth spinning, very light.

This build is magnificent. Every component carefully chosen. The wheelset is from vintage Nisi Lasers with Sapim CX-ray spokes with fancy colourful nipples. The rest of the build comprise of the Most carbon bar, Most Tiger Extralight 100mm stem, a Salle San Marco Regale saddle on carbon rails, and the superb Campagnolo Super Record 11 Ti drivetrain…hardly can get more fancy than this…safe Super Record 11 EPS. As this bicycle was ridden and photographed in 2012, the Super Record 11 EPS was the first generation.

Standard double front chainring…53/39. A bit to many gear inches for me to push. I managed to reach my personal best top speed of 52kph on a flat going 53/13 at cadence of 100, running out of breath, heart rate and power to go faster. Though I manage to hold this speed long enough to cover 1km, it was as much gear as I can manage. 53/12 and 53/11 is totally wasted on me. (My current bicycle I own – a Pinarello Dogma F10 uses the Shimano DuraAce 9120 and is geared at a more moderate 52/36 chainring.

The rear derailleur is also all carbon goodness. Never miss a shift. Smooth shifting…not Shimano smooth, but with great mechanical precision and a very positive, satisfying feel.

The Campagnolo Super Record hoods are the comfortable hoods I have ridden. The characteristic and signature shape of the Campagnolo hoods are a sight to behold. Though I feel the latest Shimano Dura-ace 9100 series shifts better than Super Record, the Italian groupset wins the beauty pagent hands down.

How does it ride? Very stiff. Very responsive. The steering is quite direct…I am told this is to the low trail, and the short wheel base. The Responsorium exhibits significant toe overlap, which may be a concern for some, but I have never experienced any issues with this. The bike feels like it wants to turn, and it turns very solidly as if it were on rails…very confident through corners. It descends very confidently, and feels very stable at speed.

The bike feels like it wants to go fast. Every input on the pedal, seems to transfer to a surge forward, and then it seems to me…maybe my imagination…but the frame then seems to give back, in a sort of harmony with the pedal strokes propelling the man and machine forwards with haste. The chainstays are only slightly smaller than Pegoretti’s race machine – the Marcello.

Overall, a great masterpiece from a great master. Much like the Simplicity is to Dufour, the Responsorium is to Pegoretti. Enough said.

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