Thursday, February 21, 2008

8 Mario Cipollini's Bikes : Cracking the Code

Adding more the mystery and oddities of the man they call Super Mario, we have a picture of his road bike at Kahli-fohniya, with the help of some wonderful people at CN.

1. A mysterious custom Aluminum frame. Who says carbon fiber is any cooler?

Cycling News reports, "According to our sources, his frame was built by Simone Carlesso of Bassano del Grappa, Italy, the same person who built his bikes when Cipollini rode for the big 'S'."

Who are these 'sources'? Who is this big 'S'? And does this mysterious Carlesso figure have a web site? A quality third party reference? Apprently not. Excellent...

2. Shimano Dura Ace components. Quick, ditch your campy stuff before someone sees...!

3. Adding insult to our curiosities, an odd stem that says CM67. CN says its a Bontrager XXX Lite stem - unpainted on one side. I'm choosing to doubt this.

Courtesy : BKW

CM sounds definitely like Mario Cipollini, but that mysterious 67 is looking to me more like some kind of Morse Code. Did you also know that 67 is an odd number, adding to further to the oddity, meaning the total oddity is more than the sum of its parts.

Anyway, what might this 67 stand for?

Some possible clues are :
  • A Flirtatious Trophy. He dated 67 different women (err...plausible.)
  • Death. He had a premonition one night that he will die at this age.
  • Grand Tour Wins. Using a highly sophisticated scientific calculator, I summed up all his wins in the grand tours - at France, Italy and Spain. The number is 57! Very close, but pretty off. Must he have added to this another 10 victories that may have been close to his heart?
  • Birth. He was born in 1967? Checking Wikipedia, this seems to be true. Mario indeed was born in 1967.. This almost reminds me of something we all do to give lesser trouble to our brains : Forming email id's and passwords with our birth dates somewhere in it! Wow, Cipo definitely took this to a whole new level!

3. Selle Italia SLR Carbon Saddle

4. LightWeight Wheels

5. Tires - Specialized Tubulars

6. Specialized Water Bottle Cages

7. A headbadge that I'm straining to look into, but it probably says "World Champion" (anyone with me on this?)

The Italian Press also reported that Cipo apparently used his 8 year old TT bike for his prologue run.

He's clearly different, his equipment is different and he chooses what to wear or do during a race. I like the approach and it clearly rings a bell with me.

There must be many more interesting things surrounding the Lion King, but the revelation of his riding tastes after a return to the pro circuit is very interesting. We see none of the flamboyance, Euroness, or eye catching color schemes that is so home to the pro cycling scene. I don't even think this is a portent to a possible Cipo mid-life crisis.

You know what I think? This little story is probably telling us all to reach a point in maturation as cyclists and even as individuals : Old is gold. Custom is king. Expensive is not always better. Be loyal to the people you know. The human component is more significant that any other factor put together. Ride what you like and don't be carried away by the folly of superfluous advertisement.

More importantly, don't give a s*** about what others think about you!


  1. Word has it that Mario is riding to pay of a tax debt.

    I didn't realize that he wasn't riding carbon. Good for him. I ride aluminum too. :)

    I believe the big S is Saeco.

  2. Uhm, can’t that be the possible frame builder? It fit's the parameters.

  3. Chris - Yeah I vaguely remember Saeco now. He rode a Cannondale Caad 3 or 4 in those days didn't he?

    Philippe - You solved a piece of the puzzle. Thanks for sharing the link!

  4. Anonymous10:44 AM

    The "big S" is Specialized! Whose bikes he rode when on Domina Vacanze..
    Remember the zebra stripes?

  5. As per the given context, Specialized being this big S makes sense.

  6. Anon - Exactly right. In internal industry exchanges we commonly refer to the major brands by their first initial: S, T, or G being Specialized, Trek, or Giant.

    The letters and numbers on the stem are Mario's initials and birth year.

    The stem is quite definitely a painted-over Bontrager Race XXX Lite OS Carbon stem - roughly 130mm x 12 degrees. ( The long shot is that it could possibly be a Zipp 145 Full Carbon. These two stems come from the same mold.

    Ultimately, this is proof positive that both Rock Racing and Mario are mavericks: doing it differently because they can. Mario chooses aluminum because he knows it works - many of the big names in pro cycling operate this way. This being the reason you see a lot of aluminum handlebars and some other odd gear choices(or re-labeled gear) on certain bikes that don't seem to mesh with sponsorship agreements.

    Think about it - in your job, your greatest allegiances are to what works best for you - not always what is easiest to get or preferred by others.

    Anyway, I've rambled enough...good post Ron.

  7. I didn't realize that he wasn't riding carbon. Good for him. I ride aluminum too. :)

    I believe the big S is Saeco.

  8. Anyway, I've rambled enough...good post Ron.


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