This is the third year David Piacenti and I have travelled to meet Andrea Sega. Each time it is a pleasure to drive this way, no matter the distance. We've been privileged to watch as the carbon products Andrea engineers develop. Over the years we've watched items develop from the Studio to production. The Superleggera bottle cages have organically altered in shape and design, the computer mounts have become further bespoke and specific to stem design. Andrea has added camera attachments to the mounts, and his beautiful carbon Gardena saddle has finally arrived in our shop.
We have believed in Andrea Sega's work because he seeks to improve, to develop, to listen to feedback and offer solutions. And so we find ourselves again at his Studio.
Sega's studio sits below the Italian Dolomites cradled in a valley basin. Standing outside, the sound of bubbling water breaks the quiet from behind us. His studio lies ahead between a set of aged buildings. In beautiful Italian style the buildings present two stages of change ... there's a slow developing construction on the left with an ever slower regressive breakdown on the right. However, tidy order exists here.
We are greeted by Andrea and his father outside. Lead between the buildings we are taken inside and through a series of rooms where, eventually, we find ourselves within the interior shared with machines and tools.
This is the work environment of Andrea Sega, founder of Alpitude Components and Werking Frames.
Sega's studio organically expands each time we visit. The walls remain intensely white, faced with abundant natural light lit through tall windows. The view of mountains from the studio still conjure cycling dreams. But Andrea's work has developed an increasing appetite for more machines and tools. Next year he looks forward to moving to a larger working space. For the moment, the work remains unhindered by the lacking space, but business is building and soon the machines must take over a new facility in 2020. We are eager to see this too.
There's a magnificent landscape seen from the window. As you look outside at the ample green space that creeps over mountains, you understand how the outside contributes so very much to Sega's work.
For us sea-level dwellers, vertigo lives in this space. Winding thin roads perch over cliff faces to slowly descend into serial switchbacks. And when you reach the valley base you once again turn to face more mountains.
I imagine in his local area Andrea climbs a lot, and so he must think a lot. And he probably thinks about the answers to world problems, or at least to cyclist problems.
Sega carries these answers to his studio where he creates tangible solutions. His machines and tools are at the ready for whatever the answer is.
A bottle cage, a computer mount, a chain catcher a saddle. If you didn't identify a cycling context, you'd still recognise each items beauty.
Andrea states that he makes "premium product with an artisanal quality.” But somehow, as true as this is, his words are modest in encapsulating his profession. To expand his sentiments, I'd add,
Through meticulous handling of carbon, Alpitude Components founder Andrea Sega champions three features favoured by contemporary cyclists : Beauty, strength and lightness.
Aesthetic meets Practicality
The studio presence is a space for productivity with exceptionally beautiful aesthetics. The combination allows for unique qualities in hand that can't be replicated by computers.
Andrea is young. He’s the youngest owner of brands held at Chainsmith. He appears typically Italian in the sense there’s not much to him. He looks like a climber, but will deny it and exclaim he doesn’t ride enough. But I laugh at this, because I doubt it.
He chats with David, and we’re at ease in his work space.
Sega hands us a Werking frame, showing us his commitment to pushing boundaries. But rather than reinventing the wheel Andrea takes a high end product and applies himself to making it better. He pushes his practice to find solutions for a particular cyclist demanding more. We look over the frame to discuss what the year has bought for Andrea who has worked continuously and conscientiously. A clock ticks quietly in the background.
As Italian dialect is exchanged, I take the opportunity to photograph the studio.
Andrea chat about projects, his latest tests and recent moulds. He accommodates me with spates of English while more freely speaking with David in Italian. Like an artist Andrea starts to pull objects and materials from their places.
Andrea has made a new series of computer mounts that I see in differing stages of finish. There's one designed for Wilier specific Alabarda Bars and others specific to Zipp, 3T and Ursus. The mounts will further develop in form, which we’ll experience as the year progresses.
While he invents, his existing products evolve. The Superlegerro bottle cages are now available in both Matt and Gloss Carbon in 3K or 6K, accompanied with titanium bolts. The carbon cages have caught our attention.
The newest model cradled in my hand is feather light, at only 8 grams (without ti bolts). The key is in the hand wrapping which allows strength and durability. Unlike its competitors, the carbon hasn’t been applied flat so it resists the flex that allows bottles to pop out over rough roads. Also, the carbon is not hollow. Andrea has upgraded the Ultra cage, which has been on my bike for a year. He’s made the new Superleggero lighter and stronger, using different carbon with changes in design.
As with all our brands, we’re excited by how technology and creativity expand what Andrea’s items can do or how they appear.
During Andrea’s second business year, Alpitude Components propelled itself within a niche market. The beauty and near weightlessness of his hand wrapped cages have impressed riders around the world. Following suite are the pragmatic but equally aesthetically pleasing direct-mount computer holders and chain catchers.
We’re especially pleased Andrea has an understanding of cycling goods from a cyclist perspective. As if producing weren’t enough, he’s offering “the Ultimate Cycling Holiday”. Having experienced the immense climbs on roads that weave upward throughout small villages to farms and wide open space of the Dolomites, we know the rides will certainly, as the tour book suggests, “make you live a unique and memorable experience.”
Anyone looking to be rewarded with a spectacular route through Northern Italy is well advised to book one of three tours with Andrea
Alpitude Components differ in what they offer the cycling market : an answer to client problems. Its not a wonder the components are increasing in their popularity. I wonder about Andrea’s ability to keep up with demand, but so far the only issue has been from carbon suppliers.
Not every rider likes to follow a status quo with many riders turning to small craft makers to fix or provide solutions. Dissatisfied with mainstream products, a type of customer seeks to own something that will distinctly set them aside from the bunch. The ability to trace back the origin of the items is appealing. To simultaneously support small business is the icing on the cake.
On the other side, online giants have allowed direct public access to prices and products previously kept exclusive to distributors and retailers. Large Brands are fighting back. They offer difference in the bespoke forms of “custom colours.”
As internet price wars and sales tactics bombard the consumer, the business of designers and craft makers blossom. Their smaller working spaces inherently limit distribution. These products can't be produced on grand scale without loosing their unique artisanal quality. Its a business of opportunity as each product can be tailored to more specific consumer demands.
This is a space developed by artisan Andrea Sega.
As we leave, Andrea’s father speaks to me in Italian pointing to two holes in a wall. Initially I don’t understand and so he speaks faster. And then I see. Inside the holes are small nests and eggs. A family of birds grow inside.
We so often focus on the bigger things only to miss smaller but significant events.
We are fortunate to have producing artisans such as Andrea who listens and creates answers, inspiring a niche market of riders who appreciate “special” qualities.
What’s more, I’m warmed knowing true bespoke artisans still exist. The romantic consideration of a frame builder working in the middle of the mountains, whose tenacity and focus continues to bring solutions to a small bike shop such as Chainsmith, is heartwarming.
We'd like to thank Andrea for his warm hospitality each time we visit him. A respect for his focus and his craftmanship have us looking forward to the next trip where we promise to update you on new adventures and products.
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