Friday, April 10, 2015

Pininfarina Fuoriserie: Bicycle, or Fashion Accessory?

The car designers are at it again, building bikes for people who don't really like to ride bikes. This time, it's the Italian design firm of Pininfarina, which is probably best known for designing cars for Ferrari, collaborating with boutique bicycle builders 43 Milano, to offer this 2-wheeled fashion accessory for the über-wealthy: The Pininfarina Fuoriserie.

The Fuoriserie is said to be inspired by the "tailor made cars of the thirties" and is described by its makers as a "jewel on two wheels" that combines "tradition with innovation." It features a frame built from Dedacciai chrome-moly steel, lugged and brazed (!) then chrome-plated. (By the way, the automotive writers out there keep calling it "welded," demonstrating how much they know about bicycles). The saddle and bars are wrapped with interlaced or woven leather, inspired by the leather interior of a 1936 Lancia Astura Bocca. The inexplicably curved top tube (maybe "bent" would be a more accurate description -- it's not so much of a curve as much as it's a dog-leg) is wrapped in burled walnut. I suppose to recall the look of a vintage car's dashboard? It's another element that says this bike is more about style than anything else.

The Pininfarina Fuoriserie comes with an electric-assist motor in the rear wheel hub (it just wouldn't do to have any plutocrats arriving at the café in a sweat). There is also a generator hub in the front to power the lights and charge the user's phone (an absolute necessity for those who both move and shake!). The battery for the motor is not shown in most of the pictures, but I believe it is kept in a leather "purse" that straps to the top-tube.
That top tube is wrapped in a burled walnut veneer. This is not a bike on which to get caught in the rain. Other bikes from the 43 Milano works feature frame tubes wrapped in wood, leather, or even crocodile skin.
I can't find any confirmation of it, but I have to assume that the battery is kept in that leather "purse" strapped to the top-tube. Most photos of the bike are taken with the pack left off. And what's up with the rim brakes? I thought all the "innovative" bikes were using discs nowadays.
The $9800 bike has an $80 stem from Velo-Orange! (the bars might be V-O, too). The folks at Pininfarina and 43 Milano apparently decided not to mount a bell to the little boss provided. Maybe they thought a bell would be an unnecessary frill? That, and the bell would push the price to $9810, and that would just be ridiculous.

From the 43 Milano description: "Pininfarina Fuoriserie is a fully innovative bike that features the typical lightness and retro appeal into smooth riding under any condition. While it is versatile and easy to handle in the city, it also performs well when used for tourism purposes. . . Pininfarina Fuoriserie is indeed a cult object that does not go unnoticed, as well as a faithful riding companion. This brought to a new exclusively, innovative, refined product we are proud to introduce to the market."

Okay - I'm going to assume that's just a terrible translation. I'm not sure what they mean by "tourism purposes," but if they mean touring, then I have to wonder about the lack of fender attachment points, or racks. No, this is a "faithful riding companion" for short rides to the café only on clear, sunny days.

Only 30 Pininfarina bicycles are being made, so it's a cinch they'll be exclusive. And at about $9800, they're strictly for the 1% club. But that's okay -- people who actually use their bikes have lots of options with far more function for far less dough, and the plutocrats will be spared the indignity of bumping into one of the great unwashed masses riding the same bike.

6 comments:

  1. That bike has one serious identity crisis.

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  2. That's an interesting way to put it. Am I a car, or a bike?

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  3. Ugh!! I would trade it for a 74 peugeot PX 10. Now that's a sweet ride.

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  4. Gimmmie the sweet lines of a steel peugeot px10. The best has already been produced -- between 74 and 85. There is nothing more useful that designers can add. Mafac made the best brake I've ever ridden. And it's center pull

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  5. So... if this uses a battery to power the hub motor, why does it needs a separate generator for the front light? Woudn't it be easier and lighter to simply install a headlight powered by the same big-ass battery that the motor uses? Oh, I forgot this is not an exercise in practicality.

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  6. As much as I like heaping scorn on silly ideas, if I recall correctly, in Germany (maybe in other places too), lights must be powered by dynamo by law even on e bikes. A capacitor is used to keep the lights going at a stop.

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