Mid-Week C&V: Bertoni Ultra Leggera






Bertoni was one of the brands in the dossier of Ben Lawee, a dossier that also included the more widely known Italvega and Univega names. Lawee had been in the bike business for a number of years, as a bike shop grunt and sales representative, before purchasing a shop of his own - Jones Bicycles, of Long Beach - in 1959. Over the next six years he grew that single shop into a chain, but after six years sold to become a importer of Bianchi and distributor for Raleigh and Motobecane.

In 1970 Lawee created the Italvega line, designed and manufactured in Italy through that decade, before production moved to Japan. That move also came with a name change - to Univega. At about the same time, circa 1980, Lawee began the Bertoni brand which were, like the Italvega line, manufactured in Italy. The earliest Bertoni frames, in fact, are very similar in design to the Italvega's. Noted for their function and ride quality, the Bertoni line grew to nine models by 1988.

You may notice the similarity between this Bertoni, and Vitus bicycles, famously ridden to great effect by the prolific champion of the era, Sean Kelly. Indeed this one uses Vitus's 979 aluminum tubing with the "screwed and glued" lug connections creating a flush transition between the two frame components. This Ultra Leggera model also included internal routing of cables, Bertoni pantographed stem and seat post, and is decorated with Shimano 600 from top to bottom. All told this was an extremely light model of bike for its era. What is particularly interesting about this bike is that, though it was ridden some after being purchased, it has hung in a garage ever since, and is an immaculate representative of its time, with all original build, all the way up to the bar tape. 

Saw this at Claremont's Velo bike shop. Ride on by and check it out for yourself.


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