Divo ST: Peloton Project
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Made in Italy used to mean one man wielding a torch on steel tubes in a small workshop, a few angles scratched out on a piece of paper held down by an espresso cup, all of it the result of decades of experience. Today, it can mean a bike manufactured at an Asian facility, but painted and assembled in Italy—not quite the same thing. But fret not. Divo is here.
Divo bikes are made—from raw carbon to finished frame—entirely in Italy. While one man alone is not manufacturing them, one man, with decades of experience in cycling, is the driving force: ex-racer Pietro Caucchioli. While his brand offers six stock sizes, like the craftsmen of old, Divo is really about custom bikes.
Divo frames are made in a tube-to-tube process as opposed to the monocoque molds typically used for carbon. Monocoque construction gives an engineer a lot of opportunity to create stiffness and light weight, but it’s also an easier way to mass-produce frames. Tube-to-tube construction, like steel, involves jigs, angles and plenty of skill to keep it all straight and true. But, most importantly, tube-to-tube allows Divo to make custom carbon bikes.
Divo ST tubes come from proprietary molds and are laid up in Verona by Cicli Master. They are stout and angular. Stock frames get 3k weave, and custom builds can come in either 3k or 1k. Power transfer and precise handling is clearly what Divo ST is all about. Tubes are then cut, tacked and overwrapped in Vicenza. The carbon overwrapping is simply the best we have ever seen in tube-to-tube construction—so clean, it first appears to be monocoque. It’s here that a rider truly gets to make a Divo ST his or her own. Whatever stack and reach you desire—WorldTour aggressive or Gran Fondo relaxed—Divo can give it to you. Need a crazy-steep head angle to tackle the crit scene or a longer wheelbase for roughroad stability? Divo can do it. The overwrapping can be done with unidirectional carbon if even more stiffness is desired.
The custom Divo ST built for peloton features slightly more relaxed angles than the aggressive race geometry of the standard sizes, but it’s far from a typical upright endurance fit. That wouldn’t be true to the bike’s heritage. Pietro has built the bike he wished he could have raced during his tenure in pro cycling.
Painting takes place in Padua and that’s yet another opportunity for riders to put their stamp on a Divo ST. Using the online builder, the colors for the paint scheme and decals can be customized endlessly. We went with traditional peloton blue; and Pietro surprised us with a few "peloton" logos. The build for the bike was never in doubt: Campagnolo. Record 11 is the perfect complement to this Divo ST, along with new Fulcrum Speed 40 tubulars, a Fi’zi:k Cyrano R1 cockpit and Selle San Marco Aspide saddle. Pietro won two Giro stages and finished third overall during his career. Any other build would be an insult and it doesn’t hurt on the scale: 6.5 kilograms (14.3 pounds).
Pietro was a climber, but not one to sit in and wait for the final kilometers to make an attack. He loved the long breakaway, he loved to press his advantage everywhere—uphill, downhill, flats, rollers. It was all fair game for him. The Divo represents this racer’s spirit perfectly. Its power transfer is phenomenal, the liveliest of any tube-to-tube bike we have ever ridden. That’s no doubt helped by the fact that the bottom bracket and chain stays of every Divo are molded as a single piece. That stiffness extends forward to the head tube and fork, giving the bike wonderful balance. Out of the saddle, sprinting, it moves a single entity with incredible drive and when descending, it is aggressive and confident. Unless you possess the skills of a Pietro you will not find its limit, so just let it roll.
This stiffness, thanks to huge tubes, quality materials and beautiful craftsmanship, does result in a stiff ride. The extra material inherent in tube-to-tube construction does damp a lot of high frequency vibration, but cracks, potholes and other rough surfaces are transmitted loud and clear. For the racer, it’s the price paid for the Divo’s kinetic acceleration, but for some it may be too much. If you fall into this category, get a custom Divo with longer chain stays and be sure to run 25mm tires, the biggest the frame will accept, and you’ll find a happy medium between racer rough and Fondo smooth. In fact, we’d recommend 25mm tires on every Divo for even more confident handling on any surface.
The Divo ST is equal parts artisanal frame building, cutting edge-material, technology, race-inspired performance and unabashed style. In short, it is a bike only the Italians could make. They are not cheap, and lead time for a custom is 60 days, but knowing you ride with a bike that is the manifestation of Italian cycling tradition will make it all worthwhile.
SPECIFICATION: $5,525 (frame set only with custom paint); 6.5 kg /14.3 lbs (54cm without pedals and cages); Campagnolo Record 11, fi’zi:k Cyrano R1 cockpit, Selle San Marco Aspide saddle, Fulcrum Speed40T wheels, Challenge Forte tubulars.