Inside Passoni: A tour of the custom titanium specialist's Monza factory and HQ
Argon chambers, geometry jigs, rotary polishing and more, including a brief look at the brand's history
I'm standing in an unassuming industrial estate on the outskirts of Monza, near Milan, Italy, outside an aged white building that leaves very few clues as to the activity that goes on inside. Aside from the two-wheel logo that sits atop the entrance, there's nothing that says bicycles at all, let alone a manufacturer of such high esteem. That is, of course, until you step inside.
Having recently visited Specialized's headquarters in Morgan Hill, California, for a similar behind-the-scenes tour, I was keen to see something from the other end of the scale, so I'm at the factory and headquarters of Passoni, one of the most highly revered custom manufacturers of titanium bicycles in the world.
Founded by Luciano Passoni in 1989, the brand claims the title of being the first company to manufacture titanium bicycles in Italy, and nowadays it turns out around 350 bikes per year. Upwards of 80% of those are 'made to measure,' with custom geometry, before being shipped around the world.
With a no-secrets look at the factory, nothing was off-limits as my host, and Passoni's product manager, Matteo Visentini took me on a brief trip through the brand's history before we entered the factory, met the men and women behind the brand, and I witnessed first hand some of the steps in this millimetre-accurate process.
Starting with a tour of the brand's in-house showroom. While it's not dissimilar to the Specialized showroom in that they were both set up to celebrate key moments in the brands' histories, that's where the similarities end. The Passoni showroom was a small room, complete with no more than 20 bikes, a table strewn with impressive components and collaborations. A walk through time can be completed in mere seconds, but we spent a little longer discussing the details.
Out of the showroom and onto the factory floor, there were no secrets here. Unlike my recent trip to Specialized, there were no "do not photograph" requests, nor closed doors - well, there was one, which I'll explain later - and no secrets. I was given total freedom to go wherever and photograph whatever I wanted.
You might be wondering how a customer would get a frame that is perfectly suited for them if they didn't know what geometry they need. If you're among the lucky few who can consider Passoni among their next bike, you might even be wondering how you'd go about finding that out. Naturally, Passoni handles that too, so to take this whole gallery back to the chronological beginning of a purchase journey, we need to look at bike fit, and up a metal stairway to a mezzanine floor is an area dedicated to the process.
The brand also has fit partners all around the world, because not all of its customers are based in Italy, or even Europe, but Passoni would naturally prefer its customers to make the trip to its Milan headquarters so that it can provide the most complete and personal approach possible.
I mentioned earlier that there was one closed door, and now it's time to explain. Among the facilities here is a sauna, dedicated to helping ensure customers are flexible and comfortable as possible. It was behind an inconspicuous closed door that I politely assumed was unimportant, hence no photo.
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As the Tech Editor here at Cyclingnews, Josh leads on content relating to all-things tech, including bikes, kit and components in order to cover product launches and curate our world-class buying guides, reviews and deals. Alongside this, his love for WorldTour racing and eagle eyes mean he's often breaking tech stories from the pro peloton too.
On the bike, 30-year-old Josh has been riding and racing since his early teens. He started out racing cross country when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s and has never looked back. He's always training for the next big event and is keen to get his hands on the newest tech to help. He enjoys a good long ride on road or gravel, but he's most alive when he's elbow-to-elbow in a local criterium.
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