PIEROBONFRAMES: The Craftsmen of Speed
I learn, like a sponge.
In silence, sometimes cutting off his speech, sometimes suggesting, and once I saw the wall I’had a heart attack. I almost forgot to shoot. But I remember to do that the last 15 minutes... And after the photo session, I thought.
“Damn Luca, But do you realize what’s happened today?!”
Yes, what happened in that workshop?
Over 40 years of Motorcycle Story unraveled on a wall. In memory of what they’ve done till today. This is a Story about a father and a son. That together they carry on a dream.
A dream made of sacrifice, pain and gain, sweat, dirty hands, to stay up late. This is a Story of a Team that sounds like a violin.
I will talk about Riccardo first, and Massimo, that even through the problems and the challenges they carry on their own craftsmen tradition.
Their roots lie in Verlicchi factory: a true statement in frame factories.
The one that gave birth to so many bikes in Emilia.
And Riccardo started his own apprentice there. Testing and proving different solutions compared to the challengers. A very long apprentice, so long that it’s still continuing today. With a white smock and an idea to translate on a paper or an alu foil.
He was Mr. Verlicchi’s right hand, the man able to solve problems or to improve what he worked on.
This position gave the opportunity to Riccardo to put his hands on the best racing motorcycles of those times.
Until 1952: When Riccardo decided to create a new factory, specialized in small racing production. A Factory highly specialized in frame area, a Factory led by a dream, able to draw on alu foil an idea, and with a hammer give a birth of a new frame, a new gas tank. With the fascination of the artist, not with the cold professionalism of a robot, perfect, but without love in what it makes.
He creates for the sake of create, for the pleasure of working well.
But when opened the Pierobon Frame he did not leave his first job at Verlicchi.
Mr. Verlicchi indeed said, “Yes, Riccardo, for me there is no problem if you decide to follow your dreams, but remember where you work, in your spare times you can do what you want, but first here, you work here.”
Riccardo found himself in front of a crossroad.
Follow the straight path, with his family and the certainties from Verlicchi.
Or the Golden Path, no comfort zone, sacrificing the free time for the new project, without the guarantee to achieve the target. But in case of success... The possibility to work with the best brand in the world.
Riccardo started this challenge at night time, during the Sundays, on holidays. Without forgetting his family. Without forgetting Mr.Verlicchi.
Riccardo is a smart artisan, skilfull hands, sharp eyes. That things, in a master like him all of these qualities found the perfect match with a brand that in those years was trying to establish itself in Motorcycle Olympus: Ducati.
Pierobon and Ducati, Ducati and Pierobon.
Probably the best “wedding” ever.
But, how did this happen?
Maybe for the innate skills of Riccardo, maybe for its proximity with Ducati Factory, maybe for Recchia, Farnè, Caracchi, Nepoti, Mengoli, Bordi, Preziosi...
But together they shared everything: joy and pain of a sport so attractive, but at the same time dangerous, and together they wrote the most beautiful pages in recent history.
From the Montjuic passing through the Bol d’Or, at the Ritmo of the Fiat (wordplay, Ritmo is a Fiat car made in the ’80s).
But I know that you want the pics, you need them. You wanna consume them like the beating of a butterfly’s wings.
You want the tech specs, dry data in support of pics.
You will have everything, I swear.
But this a Story that you need to read or listen from the beginning till the end so waits a lil bit.
Today Riccardo is out of work, on his mountains; and to play the role of Virgilio there is his son Massimo.
Massimo is a real catalyst. In a few minutes, he told us every single piece on their walls.
Like Totem they represent what happened over 60 years of activity in Motorsport. The critic situations, the hard times of PIEROBONFRAMES, a small factory where the human factor is still in the first position. Where there is no manager to blame or fire.
You play, you pay. And the cost is high, the danger of extinction.
Solution? To work like them, zero mistakes during manufacturing. And the sell data proves them right.
Slabs draw on alu foils, tech schemes where create.
Gray canvas to imagine and give birth to the best frame in the world.
Hammer, eyes, and hands. TiG welding.
Massimo was 20 when Riccardo told him to complete a frame. August holiday, a work to finish and a dad to not disappoint.
But it was not just some frame where Massimo was working on in 1991.
It was an Aprilia frame. An RS125 frame to be exact. Once finished his job, Massimo saw, first, his frame win the first race with Gramigni, and after only one year the first World 125GP Championship with Aprilia. 20years and little more.
Turn his head for a second Massimo. And he’s watching all the memories on the walls.
Swingarm, crashed tank, damaged frames.
Popes, Saints, a nativity scene.
No robots here. A real hammering it’s not replaceable by a perfect robot-stroke, but barren for sure.
"The work is cyclical here at the workshop, do you know?
In each season there’s a different kind of processing. For example, now we don’t machining the accessories for the MotoGP and WSBK Teams, otherwise, the orders for our bikes could be delayed. Wait, for our friends, the good one, we use to do an exception to the rule. "
But that wall it’s continuing to steal my attention from the step into the workshop.
Not tribute or song for a wall like that. Should everyone who will visit this place remember this Story. Like a hypothetical transfer of power between Riccardo and Massimo:
Continue what we know, what we are able to do.
From 1972 till our days this wall honors the Pierobon skills.
Honors the perfect wedding between Ducati and Pierobon.
From the first till the last, all of these frames were created ex novo here by Riccardo.
Someone could say, write or think otherwise.
Probably without full knowledge of the facts.
Because the truth is something else.
Like this one.
But let’s go with order and start with the first block. (description to-down)
Remember us, Remember what we've done.
Because if on the wall it’s exposed the human resources, able to impress everybody with their astonishing bikes, Riccardo and Massimo remember what they’ve done and they are going on with their projects.
And under the three black towels, it’s easy to understand that are lying three modern beasts.
The F042, X60R, X80R e X85R.
Their homemade bikes. Built not bought.
From 90hp of F042 passing through the X85R able to reach something like 210hp.
Many builders today are trying to play this game: to take a Desmo V-Twin and sewing a frame around.
But only a few of them succeed.
Everything started in the far 2005 with the F042. A new concept bike with a revolutionary new trellis frame for the Pierre Terblanche SS 1000. A sort of life extension for this model.
In a time where a secret arms race was secretly fought by the best factory of the world, and the pure power was starting to be the most important thing in a bike, a motorcycle like the SuperSport 1000 couldn’t do anything with its poor 90hp.
But for Riccardo a good bike, with honest handling, the right numbers of horses in the stable with an ace in the hole could be a good choice anyway, even though the beastly powers.
And faithful to Ford rule “What isn’t here, you can’t break it”. And in November 2005 Pierobon Frames presented its new bike at EICMA.
Formally the F042 it’s a kit bike, with an all brand new frame made to enhance the DesmoDue nature. The full KIT for the cost 10000€+VAT, consists in a new frame design to improve, a new swingarm, front frame and seat frame, alu tank and cap and pump, Termignoni exhaust exclusively made for the F042, new footpegs, full carbon fairings. An act of revenge for the obsolete air cooled engine.
The natural evolution of the F042 it’s the X60R.
It represents the application of the know-how earned in years of race, competition, and tests for MotoGP, WSBK and other championships. Equipped with the new DesmoDue EVO engine, and prepared by Massimo and Riccardo with new parts, this engine is able to reach the highest quote of 120hp for only 134kg of weight. The X60R kit differs from the F042 for a more complete aerodynamic study on the carbon body, Evo frame, and new ECU. A scalpel very efficient, but never extreme to use on the track.
But for the kinky riders, yes you, that you can get no satisfaction if the hp is less than 150, Pierobon got a present you, sorry two presents. And you can call them X80R e X85R.
The first one, X80R was born to replace the traditional trellis frame used on 1098 (yes, made always by Pierobon), with a new powerful and more sophisticated frame. Not so different from the X60R, this one it’s developed with the specs of the TestaStretta desmoquattro 848-1098. Shorter than the standard it’s also lighter, only 7.35kg. New swingarm in alu foil able to grant max precision and handling in sharp turns. New handmade alu tank that changes the weight allocation: now under the rider seat. It grants a neutral position, close on the center of the bike, without delivery strange movements of the bike during the fuel consumption. New rear frame, full carbon body, alu footpegs, and the brand new Ohlins TTX36 mono shock.
But the best, the real best that it’s scary as much as the beauty it’s the X85R equipped with the Superquadro V2 engine, the Panigale series to be clear.
The so much beloved but unsuccessful Panigale.
Criticized for the lack of a real frame, Riccardo and Massimo decided last year to make a new stainless alloy 25CrMo4 frame and alu side plates. They have given back what Ducati has taken away.
A new trellis frame developed from the first glorious DesmoSedici GP and 999 F03 WSBK.
The new design of the frame gave also the possibility to develop an extreme air-box solution, more pressure and fresh air for the V2 beast. Swingarm chapter: you can decide to use the mono swing arm, like the “standard” Panigale, or use the Evo double swingarm, for me a real work of art. And it gives a racing allure to the whole bike.
New carbon body with winglets. Yes, there are! Studied to grant a significant downforce they could also applied on standard Panigale fairing.
Tommy Bridewell, BSB rider, once tried and achieved in 2018 his first victory on, said he was simply impressed for the feeling of the bike, friendly also in the hardest time, braking time and in the high-speed corners. Seems that you can talk with it.
I don’t know if it’s real or not, but I believe him. For sure.
The X85R it’s a heavyweight fighter, with a featherweight, only 157kg for 210hp.
Ride with caution. It's not written on the dashboard. But it’s always a good tip.
It’s midday. Massimo has to bring back home to his family. Livio and I, the same. So many thoughts fly in my head, also now that I still translate after one week the story.
So many answers to those questions I had in my mind.
In silence, I learned stories about history, about a family that fights together and win together. They never lose, they learn always. Admiring what Riccardo did for the entire Motorsport: and a secret, the X85R stands for the "85 years of Riccardo apprentice".
Massimo, a human TNT, that gave the possibility to be part, for a day, of their world, to laugh and wonder about a fast-changing motorcycle space. That opened the door of their workshop to a poor wordsmith like me. For the words used to describe his father, pillar of the Pierobon.
Ehy, when the acorn falls, it lands in the shade of the oak.
And if these are the conditions, it will be fun for a long time!
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