We are back, after a little (not little) break with a new episode of Heart of Metal.
This time we interview Niccolò Bonanno, from Cicli Bonanno.
Ciao Niccolò, thanks for your time and availability for this chat of ours. Let’s start this conversation talking a little about Cicli Bonanno and how it all started. And when you met with Columbus on your way.
Bonanno Cicli was born at the end of 2016. In the years before I had been making a few frames and working as a mechanic in Berlin and then I threw myself into it.I was already using the Columbus tubes.
By that time I put on my first ‘sticker’ – the Bauhaus style logo which I still use today.
Do you remember which tube set it was?
Actually, Columbus Spirit and Life tube sets for me are my territory, my segment.
In the beginning I did something fillet brazed with lugs, so I also used some Zona, but then since I’m more into performance and lighter tubing, I am very happy using Spirit and Life; recently I work with XCr a lot.
So which are the main differences between the tubes that led you to choose these tube sets?
Lightness and oversize section allow me to obtain a lighter and better performing frame and the guarantee of a homogenous and quality product facilitates my work and the TIG welding.
So quality tubes with known and exact mechanical characteristics, allow me to work at my best.
Could you define Columbus in 3 words?
Consistency and trust, all the tubing has the same quality in time and this is extremely precious.
The personal relationship that we have built up with Columbus is one of the most important components for me, and it is a pleasure to be able to work with such a synergy.
So, Nicolò, which model of yours would you like to tell us more about today for Heart of Metal?
The model is the Futomaki V2 ICR, which was lately presented at Bespoke in Dresden
The name is in honour of Hiroshi, my mechanic-builder who is Japanese: the Futomaki frame is made with Columbus HSS Spirit tubes, and especially the 44 downtube is very big and large in diameter and the futomaki is the biggest sushi. That’s how the name was born, between us, and then it stayed.
This is the evolution (in fact it is called Futomaki V2 ICR which stands for Internal Cable Routing) of the previous Futomaki, my racing, performance bicycle, with the most oversized tubing. It is the stiffest frame that I produce. I presented this version (V2 ICR) for the first time in Dresden with the internal routing, the fully integrated cable routing that the world demands today. It mounts a Columbus Futura Disc Integrated fork that allows internal cable routing.
The chainstay and the seatstay are made in XCr, Columbus’ stainless tube set.
I like it a lot because in this way I can leave the stainless steel chain stay unpainted. Columbus prepared for me a tubes with custom diameter and length for this use that I then further prepared and bend to obtain my chain stays.
This is essentially the Futomaki V2; the internal routing is a bit of a new challenge, the request comes from the market and I had initially ‘resisted’ it because of some doubts about the cable routing in some critical internal points… But it works, and it’s cool.
This paintjob is the EDIZIONE CORSA, inspired by the Italian racing world of the 1990s.
It is a paintjob that we are now offering from this season.
The paint job is done by Velociao, my painter with whom I have been collaborating for several years here in Berlin, km zero: slightly plasticised glitter with this lavender lettering that make a great contrast.
How do you reach your customers?
Customers contact me directly through my website and social media platforms but I also work with High-end shops.
I recommend the frame that suits them best and then the customer fill out a form with all the requests and details. Then we go to the drawing board. At this stage, I’m in direct contact with the client to ensure they’re fully satisfied with the choices they’ve made and to help them make the best decisions.
And who does the welding and builds the frame?
I started as a craftsman and I still weld all my frames but my direction is to establish a company of artisans to increase both the quality of work and the volume.
At the moment there are four of us at Cicli Bonanno. Me, Lukas, Hiroshi and Stefano.
And how long does the process take?
Three months. From the down-payment the customer is on our list, and the building process can start.
Full bikes or frames?
I sell mostly frames, but we often do complete builds, we rely on the expert hands of Hiroshi our mechanic, our customers recognise the value of a professionally done build and are willing to come to Berlin to have this service.
Do you still have time to ride?
It is crucial to ride for us . To grow, to understand the product you make, to develop new features.. Now that it’s winter I do more cyclocross, which keeps me warm and is fun. We need to test the frames and keep riding.
This Futomaki, for instance, was born for the shop in Dresden I work with, that sells premium bikes, it’s called Lightwolf Studio and I was asked for the frame by Felix, the owner, with whom we decided to make a special product for the Bespoke 2023 fair. I made a size that could be ridden by Felix and his crew and that helped me a lot with the technical feedback.
Thanks Niccolò, a real pleasure featuring you in our Heart of Metal series.