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A day building the MTB of my dreams
Posted on 12/24/2011 2:23:54 PM

Time for some cross-training

I met Michele Favaloro three years ago when I popped up in his workshop with my personal mechanic Beppe, who was always telling me that there was a guy who was building phenomenal bikes by hand. For sure I was interested as I had never seen the real building of a bike, so it was like going back to the roots of my sport, and that was what I needed at that moment ( it was the year of the folding of the Saunier Duval team and to be sincere I was fed up from the people in the racing background).

Michele is a young and brilliant man that has made his job from his passion - he builds all sorts of frames by hand. His catalogue has a big variety of choice of steel , aluminum and carbon road, MTB, track, and cross bikes.

He started as an apprentice at the Ferremi’s frames company where he could learn the technique of soldering and building frames. Ferremi and Pegoretti were some of the pioneers in Italy of the TIG soldering, which used the Tungsten as a environment for the soldering.
Michele has been racing in the MTB world since 1990 so he was able to test every model on the road and understand the points of force and weakness of every product.

At first he was building steel and aluminum frames, but not too long after he was caught in the carbon revolution that has affected cycling since the end of the 90s. He established his own brand FM Bike in the year 2000, and he has always built the bike around his customers. In fact, he has a lot of experience in finding the right fitting for every cyclist and the fact that he builds personally every frame gives him the possibility to find the perfect solution in any single case.

Right after he started to be on his own he learned how to build carbon tubes with aluminum lugs so his bikes achieved an incredibly low weight. The next step was to build a bike made entirely of carbon fibre stratifying by hand every junction. His goal was to have lightness and extreme performance find the right meeting point. The carbon tubes used in his bikes are not meant only for bikes, but for other heavy duty uses that require a great performance; for example on boats to sustain sails that tower over 20 meters high.

With his knowledge of carbon fibre combined with his racing experience, he started to compose a whole new array of products that were really light and high performance. His experience gives him the advantage to fulfill every customer's desire by making the bike a natural extension of the rider.

I went to see Michele when I decided to enter the MTB world so I could diversify my training.  As I spoke to him about my intentions, it was clear that my bike could not be a “normal” one, but instead I should opt for the Doctor Special 29. Twenty nine inch wheels have become the leading standard in mountain biking these days and the larger wheels help you to get over obstacles you encounter when riding.  But what makes Michele's bikes so special is that on his 29 the rear, which is only 42,5 cm, is shorter than many 26ers on the market and this gives you a fast start every time you push on the pedals. The central movement is lower and larger and that improves the traction on the ground and permits it to have a short rear. It is hard to wheelie since every effort finds its way to the ground. The vertical tube is attached 3cm ahead of the diagonal tube.

With this bike setup you can afford to mount a rigid fork, and Michele says that on every type of terrain it is better because you never lose any power when you pedal and the bike is over 1kg lighter in the front. It is clear that if you are doing a lot of harsh downhill stuff it is better to have a suspension mounted, but if you’re not, going rigid is something to consider. The steering on the bike is biconic and that gives you more stability and drive-ability and it speaks to the carbon lightness with every single piece having a brilliant racing matte black carbon. On the wheels I have the tubeless on because they are lighter and reliable, but for every condition ( dry, wet, uphill, technical, etc...) there is a special configuration for me to use on the bike. For example, if I am doing a lot of steeps downhills I will put my handlebars up a little bit higher.

This is the first time I’ve had a custom mountain bike made, and I’m impressed with how Michele’s custom bike feels like a natural extension of my body, and also with his vision to make improvements that suit each individual. The bike transfers every watt of power down through the drivetrain and to the wheels where I need it.  It was great to be able to choose the measurements, the style of the frame and of the components. I set it up with PMP red hubs and cranks, the special white Formula brakes and the Sram X0 changing set.  When I step back and look at the “doctor”, it always prescribes me a day out in the woods where I can go out and give it my best.

Thanks for reading,

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