Product Overview

Overall rating:

Score 10

Pros:

  • Latest generation of steel bike
  • Excellent, 'modern' ride quality
  • Great build quality
  • Light weight
  • Nice paint scheme

Cons:

  • Steel purists may be offended by carbon fork

Product:

Pegoretti Marcelo

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£1950.00

Dario Pegoretti is enormously respected by the new generation of artisan bike builders, who are mostly based in the USA. His small factory in Caldonazzo in the Italian Dolomites is thousands of miles away from the handbuilt frame revival currently happening across the Atlantic, but ideologically he lives next door.

Pegoretti, 54, has been making frames for over 30 years and has been contracted to build bikes for superstars like Indurain and Pantani – though at the time he was sworn to secrecy – but what the bright young American craftsmen like about him is he’s not stuck in the past. He is not even remotely retro. Rather than abandon steel when carbon came along, he has devised ways to improve the weight, stiffness, ride quality and aesthetics of his frames. It’s that creativity that is so compelling about Pegoretti, and why everyone wants a piece of him at the moment.

Steel tubing technology has also progressed considerably since the Eighties, and Pegoretti himself has had a hand in designing some of it. The Marcelo is made of oversized, heat-treated Columbus Niobium Spirit, which is lightweight, stiff and strong. Pegoretti is one of the pioneers of TIG welding, claiming to be the first in Italy to use the technique, so the Marcelo’s joins are predictably very neat.

Unexpected, however, is the size of the stays. The diameter of the chainstays and seatstays is much larger than anything normally found on a steel bike. The distinctive hand-cut dropouts, housed under a steel plate designed to maximise the extra rigidity of the stays, are a feature of Pegoretti’s frames. The head tube extends slightly higher above the top tube than conventionally, making spacers unnecessary and improving steering by placing the upper headset bearing directly under the stem. The paint scheme – all Pegoretti’s painting is done in the factory – is also unconventional and unique.

Built with Campagnolo Athena 11, the fourth-tier groupset, the 58cm Marcelo weighs a whisker under 18lb, which is pretty impressive. Despite this, Pegoretti insists that his frames are not about the weight – it’s the ride that matters. In fact, he refuses to publish frame-only weights, not because his frames are heavy, but because he believes too many people pay too much attention to a figure that has little bearing on the capabilities of a bike.

He’s quite right. The Marcelo feels incredibly decisive. It’s definitely a racing bike and the big stays mean excellent power transfer. It is stiff enough for the most muscular sprinter, and we would even say it responds best to riders who are able to ‘load’ it properly. There’s none of the heavy flexibility of the old steel frames that supposedly had the ‘feel of steel’, but a less powerful rider might opt for a more forgiving rear end – the Pegoretti Duende would be a better choice for those wanting the same front triangle of the Marcelo, but a slightly different construction at the back.

If we had any doubts about the tall head tube, they were dispelled once we rode the Marcelo in the drops. The position was perfect with our off-the-peg test bike and the steering is completely precise. It’s a full carbon fork and even though it might not fully fit the pure steeliness of the rest of the Pegoretti, it complements it well.

It’s a beautiful bike with a superb ride quality, built by one of cycling’s luminaries and the whole experience of taking the Marcelo for a spin is quite inspiring. Whoever buys a Pegoretti Marcelo may never need – or want – to ever buy another bike.

Verdict

At first the Marcelo seems full of contradictions. At a glance it’s traditional — round steel tubing, classic geometry, horizontal top tube — but go in close and there are many carefully considered and perfectly executed improvements to the old format. Oversized stays, reinforced dropouts, extended head tube, lightweight Columbus tubing and an off-the-wall paint scheme.

Ridewise, those looking for a trendy ‘steel is real’, old-school experience will be disappointed, because it rides like a race bike. It’s light, stiff and fast.

Overall, the Marcelo is the result of years of experience of handbuilding racing bikes, with the latest materials and innovations via an artist’s attention to detail and loving care.

NB: Price quoted for frame and forks only

Full Specification

Supplier:
Mosquito Bikes www.mosquito-bikes.co.uk
Wheels:
Mavic Ksyrium K10

Wheelbase:
100cm
Weight:
17.9lb (complete)

Tyres:
Mavic Ksyrium K10
Top Tube Length:
57.5cm

Stem:
Deda Zero
Standover:
83cm

Size Tested:
58cm
Size Range:
49-62cm or custom

Seat Tube Angle:
73
Seat Post:
Pegoretti

Saddle:
Fizik
Arione CX
Head Tube Length:
19.7cm

Head Tube Angle:
72.5
Group Set:
Campagnolo Athena

Gear Ratio:
50/34 and 11-25
Frame:
Columbus Niobium Spirit

Bars:
Deda Newton
Chainstay:
41cm

Fork Rake:
4.3cm

  • N.Kraft

    I forgot to mention a cautionary note about sizing in Pegorettis.. The head tube is quite tall by normal standards, and if you are built like me, this will get in the way of your aero riding position. I cannot ride bikes like Ridley, Pinarello,etc, simply because the head tube is too tall in their frames with the correct top tube length. The same goes for Pegoretti’s; his stock geometry has an ‘extended’ head tube, in the thought that spacers create more instability of the front end, and rightly so. Luckily my ‘Duende’ was a custom build, and has a 58 TT but a 17.5cm head tube – perfect for me. The surprise was that due to a slack seat tube angle (72deg) at this size frame, the effective top tube (reach) is much longer than anticipated by the time that angle splays out to the top of my saddle, (which is 85cm from the BB). As I see it, this dilemma seems to only occur at the 57, 58 and 59 size points, where the seat tube angles slacken by 1/2 degree at each size increment.

    Perhaps I’m a candidate for a custom build, and if you also tend to have your bars low and a long top tube, then make sure these combinations of angles don’t create a riding position that you are not familiar with. As I understand it, this is a ‘classic Italian’ setup, but with even a taller head tube. That said, it is perfectly possible to cut the head tube down by a cm or two, as there are no butts or flanges inside the tube to accommodate the headset. Or better still, order the frame built to your specifications..

    n.k.

  • N. Kraft

    I got my first Pegoretti about 1 year ago, in an interest to finally feel first-hand what all the ‘hype’ was about. I have and have had numerous top-level carbon, titanium and alum. bikes, but had never even tried a good steel bike. When my ‘Duende’ arrived, I was stunned at every aspect of it’s capability – so much so that I immediately set about to purchase a Marcelo, which is like a Duende on steroids! It turns out that none of this was hype or groupie clan-ish raving, but all well deserved praise for a fabulous bicycle frame.

    These bikes have instantaneous power transfer, steering stability, and a refinement that can rival anything else on the road, and seem to take all of the rider’s input and deliver results. My first thought was that a bike that builds up a pound or two heavier than my carbon beauties must be disadvantaged in the hills – not so.. The Marcelo gets me up any climb as fast or faster than any of my lighter bikes (after all, does it really take a lot of watts to lift 1 pound ?), primarily due to the fact that there is simply no twist or flex from pedalling. Sprints are equally gratifying for the same reason. Situations where I would know myself to be at the limit to win, or just barely hang in, I find the Pego to breeze me along, as though there was an extra turbo built into the frame. The Duende is a bit smoother to ride, due to the slightly narrower seat stays, making it feel more like a Colnago C-50, as compared to the Marcelo which feels incredibly connected to the road, but may irritate some riders on long rides or rough roads.

    I could go on, but I think you get the picture. This is not a bike that pines for ‘days of olde’, when ‘steel was real’, etc, but is a fully competitive and thrilling race bike on any terms. It’s also great that they are lovingly crafted by a master with a lifetime of experience and commitment to his art, not squirted out of a plastics mold in Asia somewhere..

    My next wish is to find a Responsorium, which sounds like it is Dario Pegoretti’s ‘statement’ frame; stainless steel, extra butting, and apparently the smoothest ride of any Pegoretti, while still being as responsive as the Marcelo.. I may have to wait the 2 year back-order period.

    If you can afford one, this may be the best bike purchase you ever make; it certainly was for me..

    n.k.