Casati, purveyors of stylish and custom made road bikes, has been making frames at its Monza, Italy, base since Pietro Casati started the company in 1920. It's still a family run business and the Espresso RS pictured here is its latest model. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
There’s something a bit special about an Italian made steel road bike, it’s easy to get all misty-eyed and transfixed by black and white photos of Fausto Coppi and Gino Bartali racing during the glory days of Italian cycling.
The Espresso RS is no romantic nod to the country’s storied past, however. It’s their take on performance steel, inspired by the growing demand for steel bikes that can provide a worthy alternative to carbon, even for those cyclists that like to race or just ride fast everywhere.
You need look no further than the popular Bespoked UK hand-built show to see the evidence of this rise of interest in steel. To create the Espresso RS, Casati has used a custom Columbus Spirit tubeset, with the requisite chunky head tube, oversized down tube and slender rear stays that you would expect to see on a modern performance focused steel road bike.
The frame is a fine demonstration of the company’s skill and attention to detail. Most notable is the seat clamp bolt concealed inside the top tube, the carbon fibre seatpost painted to match the frame, providing a seamless transition from seat tube to seatpost, and the internally routed cables - the rear brake inside the top tube and the gear cables through the down tube. Meanwhile, the bottom bracket is a traditional external threaded design.
The tubes are fillet brazed and each frame is built by hand and measured specifically for each customer. A list of options include the length of the head tube, seat tube, top tube and other geometry details, so you can tailor it to provide the sort of ride you prefer. You’re looking at an 8-12 week delivery time from tape measure to delivery, through Comtat in Portsmouth.
It’s clear the bike has been built to provide a performance-orientated ride, from the substantially sized dropouts to the oversized head tube and beefy carbon fibre fork. But it’s not all that heavy, the frame weighing a claimed 1,480g and the Casati fork is 330g.
Italian bicycle companies aren’t always known for their restraint, and Casati certainly hasn’t held back with the striking paint job on this bike. Understated it’s not, but beautiful it most certainly is.
Such Italian craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap, however, with the frameset, with the custom geometry and paint finish options remember, costing £1,999.
There’s a vocal minority that insists only an Italian groupset should be fitted to an Italian frame. We don’t agree, you can do what you like if it’s your own frame, but Casati sticks with an Italian theme, with a Campagnolo Chorus groupset, Bora 35 carbon fibre wheels, and finishing kit from Deda and Selle Italia,
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.