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All a Blur: An Automotive-Inspired Pegoretti Responsorium

15th December, 2023 / Words and Photos by Peter Harrington
“I first talked to Dario about a frame for a big birthday,” says Matt, as we sit down for a post-photo shoot coffee and chat at West London supercar hub, the Duke of London. “But I ended up getting it for my next big birthday - which wasn’t the plan!” 

Such is the business of life. As our drinks arrive, I ask Matt what drew him to Pegoretti. “I think there are two parts in it for me,” he begins. “The first is that I’m very interested in engineering. When I used to race cars, I used to engineer mine and the rest of the team’s cars - tracking balance, springs, etc. Essentially, getting to the heart of how things handle. The second is that my profession is an art director for advertising. So a Pegoretti was my perfect bike.” 

Fittingly, our table at the coffee shop affords glimpses of the Duke of London’s world-famous car collection, all polished steel, chrome and windows to deep leather, driving gloves, wooden steering wheels and the promise of the open road. After some appreciative words for a stunning 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback GT 302 to our left, and perhaps inspired by its unapologetically carefree design, Matt explores a more visceral reason for wanting to ride a Pegoretti. “There’s this master of making bikes out of metal for the best cyclists in the world, the last sort of artisan engineer. I’d heard all the stories about how amazing they were to ride, how they were the best-handling bikes anyone had ever ridden; I was sold.”

Jump forward ten years, and Matt’s love for Pegoretti remained. But technology had moved on. “All my bikes are disc,” he explains. “I know many people love the classic look, rim brakes, mechanical group and all that, but I wanted to marry discs and an electronic groupset with stainless steel - total metal modernity.” 

Matt recalls Pietro telling him that people often mistook Dario for an old-fashioned romantic instead of the intensely forward-looking artist, designer and engineer he knew. Discs on a Pegoretti? A natural extension of Dario’s love for technology. 3D-printed stainless steel dropouts? An expression of a curious mind always looking towards the next horizon. 

“Dario would have loved this bike,” Matt grins. “It’s SRAM, not Campy, electronic, not mechanical, disc over rim - it’s got a 3D-printed saddle!” Not to mention the Falz disc carbon fibre fork, a graceful, gently curving design that begs the question of every other fork: why so straight? 

“A lot of people are wowed by how it looks,” says Matt, referring to his Responsorium’s all-encompassing Ciavete paint scheme, “but I’m wowed by how it rides.” With long experience on motorbikes and bicycles, Matt has a good understanding of feel and speed, especially on the corners. “Things like how the bike tracks, how it flexes. For example, my carbon bike is too stiff on the front end to descend well,” he admits. “But after collecting my Peg, I went for a ride that included Bannerdown Road in Bath - a good testing hill. It was a lovely evening. I wasn’t pushing hard; I was just getting to know the bike. Anyway, when I got home, I saw I had five personal bests and all up hills!” 

As Matt admits, that doesn’t make much sense: it’s a steel bike, not a carbon machine, so what gives? “I think it’s what I hoped it would be,” says Matt. “The cleverness of how the geometry works, and how that power transfer works. It must be that because a steel bike will rarely weigh less than a carbon bike.” But Matt didn’t need the stats to know how fast it descended. “It was phenomenal. You understand why Dario made his own fork, why there’s trail. The stability is astounding.”

Unusually for a new Pegoretti owner, Matt came to the brand without any preconceptions. “All I thought was, if it rides anywhere near as well as my Parlee, I’ll be happy.” After just one outing, Matt was in no doubt: “The Pegoretti surpassed my Parlee at every turn. It was quite a shock.”

While we’ve been sipping our coffee, a steady stream of people have passed by, almost all stopping to admire and often photograph Matt’s Pegoretti. How did he arrive at the final look? “I did have a mood board with some of my automotive inspiration,” Matt explains. “But my job as an art director is to commission people to bring a concept to life. So if I have an initial idea and love the work Pegoretti put out, they can execute their way, free of interference.”

Part of the mood board included a photo of a speeding McLaren passing through the tunnel at Monte Carlo, Matt’s racing helmet, the names of his kids and his racing number. And a healthy dose of neo-expressionism inspired by Jean-Michel Basquiat. “I had spoken to Dario about our shared love for Basquiat and abstraction,” he says. “Essentially, I wanted it to look fast standing still.”

And it does. While the Mustang we admired appears to be on the cusp of taking off, suspension sucked down, ready to squirm away in a plume of smoke, Matt’s bike is a blur, a collage of colour, blazing speed at a standstill. As Matt says, “It looks like it wants to go.”

As we finish our coffee, Matt mentions the day he first saw the frame. “Pietro was so excited to show me it. It must have been pretty nerve-wracking for him. But when he pulled the sheet away, even though it was not what I expected, I liked it.” Not though, love? “Everyone else who saw it loved it at first sight. But I experienced something that all great pieces of art provide: a slight discomfort. A pushing into a new place,” he admits. “Good creativity should always make people uncomfortable. And then people grow into it and love it, which is how it went for me with the frame’s finish. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

A big thank you to Lance at Romance of Rust for welcoming us into his workplace for the photoshoot.

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