Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What the hell happened to Bottecchia?

In 1924 and 1925 Ottavio Bottechia won the Tour de France. The next year he started his own line of race bikes. They made some nice bikes over the years. And they were very Italian.
A few years ago, I think in 2004, I was working for a small road bike distributor. We already had a Taiwanese brand that actually made really nice road and track bikes. The builder was small and we needed another brand to sell to shops in the US. The logical choice was an Italian company because there were a few with no US representation. I can remember Bottecchia's booth in the Italian pavilion of the Interbike show. It was twice the size of most other booths but only had 4 bikes. They did, however, have a giant backdrop with a picture of one of their bikes beside a semi-nude woman. Right away we were impressed. The bikes themselves were beautiful and very Italian. The problem was that the prices just too high, higher even than the better-known Italian brands like Colnago and DeRosa. We left the meeting empty-handed and Bottecchia's Italian bikes never found a home in the US.
Fast forward to this morning. Being a lover of Italian bikes I occasionally search different builders on ebay to see what's floating around. After searching this revered brand's name I found out there is now a "Bottecchia USA" selling discount Chinese road bikes on ebay. Bottecchia, like other brands like Tommaso, sold the use of their name to some US company with Chinese connections that just design the cheapest bikes they can and sell them to unsuspecting ebayers (if there is such a thing). Ottavio must be spinning in his grave.

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