1996c

To those who appreciate the fine art of handmade Italian road bikes there are many builders whose names come to mind. Colnago, Pinarello, Guerciotti, along with many others are marques that are familiar to us all, but there are some whose names are not so well known. Many of the makers of the finest bicycles never achieved the level of commercial success as those mentioned above, but their work was unsurpassed. Sancineto is among the elite of this select group of frame builders. They were one of the oldest continuous manufacturers of high quality bikes in Italy but also one of the least known marques. Sadly, they are a mystery of the highest quality!

In 1919 bicycle racer Pietro Sancineto followed the classic path of bicycle makers and (after his racing career) began building bicycles, marking the beginning of three generations of custom frame building for this family. Pietro’s son Sabastiano, also a bicycle racer (on the track), and later grandson Gianni followed in their father’s footsteps and continued the family legacy of building high quality custom bicycles for the racing community.

The original factory was located on the family farm outside of Cuneo Italy, a northern town in the Piedmont region of Italy. Little is known about the early years of the business with Pietro and Sabastiano, but they likely produced limited numbers of high quality bicycles to discerning clients. These bikes were probably unbranded since there are no known examples of frames from this period bearing the family name.

In more modern times, Gianni was known to have produced bicycles for other marques in the 1980’s. This perhaps was the continuation of the practice of his father and grandfather. Torto was one such brand which was manufactured by Sancineto but labelled as another. Featuring superior workmanship, excellent pantographs and attention to detail that Sancineto was known for, the Torto was a beautifully built bicycle.

torino-o

Later on, Gianni built custom bicycles for many professional bike racing teams, including the Lithuanian national team, the German women’s Olympic team and other Swiss, Danish, Finish and British teams. It is said that in the 1990’s his custom frames often sold for more than 3000 Swiss Francs, which was more than $4000 USD at the time! Gianni was most prolific in the 1990’s, even supplying approximately 50 bicycles for an importer to the US in 1994. Most of his production however, it is said, stayed in northern Europe where he primarily served local demand for his work. Gianni may have also relocated his factory north, to Turin Italy around this time.

The paint work on mid to late 90’s Sancineto’s was more flamboyant than earlier years but strikingly similar to another Italian marque, that of De Bernardi. Both bicycles were manufactured in the Cuneo/Turin region and possibly used the same paint finisher.

late-90se

After the late 1990’s there seem to be fewer examples of Sancineto’s work. It is assumed that around this time he may have begun to reduce his output. It had been 80 years or so since his grandfather first started making bicycles, but now carbon fiber frames were common and had taken over the market. Sadly, the demand for his work began to decline. It was to be the beginning of the end of an era. Three generations worth of knowledge, of hand forming steel tubes into bicycles, into works of art may well be lost as old masters like Gianni hung up their torches and laid down their files.

In the new millennium there were almost no major manufacturers’ still building high quality lugged steel frames. Outside of the occasional “tribute” model that was offered now and then, the mastery and knowledge of building these classics was becoming a lost art. To be sure, some smaller builders such as Officina Battaglin, Dario Pegoretti, Richard Sachs and others had taken up the torch, but I cannot help but wonder how much knowledge has been lost in this transition. Very few of the new generation of steel frame builders have ever apprenticed with one of the old masters. As clever and skillful as modern builders may be, they may never be able to replicate the “magic” qualities achieved by their predecessors.

Some of the images I have gathered below were identified as being of certain years of manufacture. In some cases, I have corrected the “said” dates to a more correct date based on frame characteristics. If you have a factual or photographic contribution to make to the knowledge base for Sancineto bicycles and their history please use the comments section below to contact me. This page will continue to be a work in progress with your input. Thanks!

2000’s ?

Late 90’s

These later examples show the ovalized tube ends and lugs which apparently began in late 1996.

 

1997

This frame, said to be a 1997 is a repaint (riverniciato) so the graphics may not be exactly correct.

1996

Nice restore on a Sancineto by Bike Forums member “Hailstorm 7.” This one is unique in that it appears to be a transitional model. This is the first appearance of ovalized top tube ends and lugs by Sancineto. These became a main design feature in 1997 and beyond.

1996

The seat stay panto-graph changes font beginning this year.

 

1996

Another aluminum model. These are pretty rare in the Sancineto timeline.

1995

The “S” logo re-appears on the seat lug in 1995. The seat stay panto-graph font also seems unique to this year.

Mid 1990’s

This aluminum Sancineto has 8 speed Shimano Ultegra which dates it between 1992 – 95. The aluminum variant was probably not made in any real quantities.

1994

1993

This seems to be the first year in which the seat stays take this flattened shape with the Sancineto panto-graph. The “S” logo on the seat lug disappears.

1992

1991

These are some pics of my own 1991 Sancineto. The frame and fork are the only original parts, all else is provided by me.

1991

The “S” logo re-appears on the seat tube lug.

1990

1989

This is said to be an 89 bike. The unique seat stay arrangement may have been a one year only style. This is the first appearance of the “S” panto on the seat cluster.

Late 1980’s

These appears to be transitional models, the style beginning to show characteristics displayed on the 90’s bikes. The seat stay ends are typical of these late 80’s bikes.

 

 

Mid 1980’s

The components date this example to the mid 1980’s, probably not later than 1985. It displays significant differences to later generations and may be an example of the earlier work of Gianni. Though windows and panto-graphs in the lugs are a theme that is carried throughout the later models.

This “Torto” is said to be some of Gianni Sancineto’s earlier work, re-branded for a client.

Early 80’s

No precise date on this frame but the early logos and and top tube cable routing place it roughly in this era.

Other uncategorized