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A Visit to the Mondonico Frame shop

In 1983 I became Antonio Mondonico's American agent. From the day we started working together until the shop was closed in early 2006, working with the Mondonico family was one of my greatest professional joys. Antonio and his son Mauro made sure each frame had both beautiful workmanship and exquisite handling. Selling them was easy. But, the dollar's devaluation in the mid-2000s which required a substantial increase in the price of Mondonico frames, and the world's preference for carbon frames instead of hand-made steel works of art forced the Mondonico family to retire from a craft they had pursued since 1929.

Some time in the early 1990s I followed Antonio Mondonico while he was working in his bicycle framebuilding shop in the back of his home in Concorezzo (near Milan), Italy. Here are some of the photos I took while I got in Antonio's way.

There's more. Page 2 of a visit to the Mondonico shop.

Here is the Mondonico shop. The various jigs and tooling painted green are made by Marchetti & Lange. We are looking lengthwise past the framebuilding jig towards Antonio in the red sweater. Some of the tools here were used by Antonio's father Giuseppe, who started building frames in 1929.

Antonio is applying brazing flux to a tube. When the tubes are heated to brazing temperture the flux removes contaminating materials and oxides that would prevent a good, strong joint.

Mondonico cuts a tube.

Mondonico pinned many of his joints to hold the tubes in place before brazing the frame. Here he drills a hole in the cast bottom bracket shell and the seat tube. You can see in this photo that the shell has been faced before the framebuilding begins so Antonio can work with precise surfaces.

Now the pin is put in place.

A different joint, but the pin has to be carefully hammered in to place.

There's more.

Page 2 of a visit to the Mondonico shop.