The Wanderful Mag, Issue 1 Q3 2014

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ISSUE 1, Q3 2014






GIANLUCA ZAGHI Gianluca Zaghi’s company, Vintage Speed Bicycles, rebuilds and restores classic racing bikes made by the great Italian, French, and Swiss frame builders of the 1950s-70s. From his workshop near Lugano, Gianluca keeps contact with a growing worldwide community of devotees of these beautiful, fascinating machines. What path led you to restoring old bicycles?

jumped from 28 thousand to over 400 thousand. A basic Google

In 2010, I lost my job. A friend asked me to buy a bicycle so we

search was returning my business in the first, second, and fourth

could go for rides together, now that I had plenty of time. But new

places. My passion had become an addiction – and not just for me.

bikes are expensive and, to my mind, pretty shitty – so I went on eBay and got a vintage bicycle. When I got it home, I thought, “I can make this better; “ so I went back on eBay to find parts. I suddenly realized that there was something huge here: all of these bicycles and parts, made by the classic manufacturers based 50-60 kilometers from where I live – all in my area! I investigated further and found I had stumbled on a wonderful business: “Let’s see if I

“At first it was just my private passion, but I discovered that people were becoming attracted to my work through social media.”

can make it work.” At first it was just my private passion, but I discovered that

I love to get my hands dirty. I put all my love into every bicycle

people were becoming attracted to my work through social me-

that I touch – and I have done some amazing bicycles. Now I have

dia. Within 6-8 months of my starting to collect bicycles and parts

sold more than two hundred of them in 63 countries around the

and show my restorations online, my viewing numbers on Flickr

world: the US, UK, Japan, Brasile, Canada…



New bicycles had so many technological advantages. What

and beauty of each element. You don’t see anything like that on a

is the appeal that people find in a vintage one?

modern bike.

Partly it’s the economic situation; new bicycles cost a lot. It’s also

Some people like doing the restoring: you buy the pieces and

a cultural shift, where cycling itself is now attractive. When the

the frame and you make the bike how you want. It’s appealing to

Mayor of London can change the whole thinking of a city and get

put your own hand to the work and have the result that pleases

people on bikes, you can see other cities learning from this, trying

you. And it can be only €500 for a nice bike with the character

to be more green, with less traffic.

you want. You can participate in events, like the Eroica in Tuscany,

There’s also the object itself. A modern carbon bike is just

where 5,000 people toured together on vintage bicycles.

stamped to one pattern in Taiwan: they’re all the same except for the decals and paint. When I work on a vintage bike I see the hand of the master who made it. It’s not just eight tubes welded together: it’s particular joints, specifications, lugs, all hand made. It’s honest, put right in front of you, so you can see directly if it is good, shit, or a masterpiece. On the Gloria “La Garibaldina Extra” that I have just finished restoring, the lugs are shaped like flowers.

“It’s not just eight tubes welded together: it’s particular joints, specifications, lugs, all hand made.”

You see such things once and you just fall in love. Campagnolo gear components are like jewelry – and the qual-

So – economics; self-satisfaction; participation – and fashion.

ity is wonderful: just clean it, polish it, and it works like new. Every

Look in the catalogues of Armani or Dolce & Gabbana, you will see

part invites your judgment. You form an opinion on the function

vintage bicycles. It represents classic style and real craftsmanship.



What is it that gives a bicycle such resonance in the imagi-

democratic form of transport: it gave people the means to achieve


new goals – moving and working. And I can’t help but remember

There is poetry in a bike… it’s difficult to put into words. The best

the great champion Gino Bartali saving thousands of Jews during

comparison is the relationship between a rider and a horse; there

the war by carrying messages in the handlebars of his bike… there

is a feeling like a human relationship. You care for it, look after it.

is history and revolution in this machine.

And there’s also thought: your mind is set free as you ride. You spin the pedals and your ideas are no longer stuck on the ground, but rise to a new level.

Where are some of your favorite places to ride? I ride mostly around here, in my own country, but any place is good to ride, if there is road and sun. I like riding with a friend,

“The best comparison is the relationship between a rider and a horse; there is a feeling like a human relationship.”

because then we are pushing together, trying to improve: it’s training for body and mind. But if it’s just for pleasure, I do it on my own. But then, I also have the special showing ride when I have just completed a restored bicycle: I take it into Lugano and ride it around. It’s like my shop window: people, especially foreign tourists, stop me to talk about it, the word gets around – and soon I have a sale.

Also, there’s the social significance – the way bicycles liberated a whole generation of people from being bound to one place,

What do you feel you have learned from this vocation?

one employer. In Italy, it was like a revolution. A bicycle is the most

I’ve learned about time: how you can lose yourself. There’s no



stress, you take a trip to another planet where there are no struc-

just there, an object – but this is continuously moving, growing,

tures, hours, deadlines, expiry dates. There is only passion, the

coming back to you, freeing your mind. Your obsession starts

love of doing it, and the result. It’s a dimension where time gets

slowly, then grows into an addiction. That’s how they are: I will

slow – like a bicycle, not a Ferrari.

get into your stomach! You will become addicted!

Passion is the first thing; appreciation is the second. People appreciate my work because I build every bicycle as if it were my own. And if it pleases me, it is going to please everyone, since my standards are so high: I am a picky bastard. And I keep pushing


those standards higher… because otherwise, what’s the point? When some guy in Japan sends me a message to say, “what a

We are all different, but difference is not enough; to make your

great bike you sent me!” that’s the satisfaction. I love to share the

mark in the world, you need to show your commitment, your

beauty, to put it back on the roads. Social media lets me share my

obsession, the knowledge and experience that sets you apart.

passion with the whole world.

In the past, only his village might know what an amazing man

And yet these people are buying these bicycles without ever

Gianluca Zaghi is – but now the world beats a virtual path to his

touching them. They’re buying the pictures, but they trust my

electronic door. Social media provide the tools; branding beyond

work, because with social media, they can come to know me and

difference makes the difference. And we think that’s Wanderful.

understand my commitment. So a customer can even send $17,000 for a bike he has only seen in photographs. Last month, I posted a newly-restored bicycle for sale – and it went in seven seconds. I breathe my work, totally and fully. These are precious things, but they offer so much more than, say, a diamond would. That’s



A publication by Ander Group SA, BSW Contributors Florian Anderhub, Editor in Chief Luciano Marx, Art Direction Simona Tami, Director of Photography Alberto Bernasconi, Photography Publisher Ander Group SA, BSW 6928 Manno, Switzerland T. +41 91 966 99 66 All rights reserved, 2014

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