We can’t think of another bike we’ve tested that hasn’t had its brand name somewhere on its frame. But then Pegoretti isn’t an ordinary brand.
There’s an extra irony in the fact that Dario Pegoretti doesn’t plaster his name on his frames either, because he built his reputation by creating bikes to be raced under other brand names by the world’s best riders. He started frame building back in 1975 and already had an enviable reputation before he started to pioneer TIG welding to join steel tubes in 1985 when most other builders were still using lugs and low temperature brazing.
The Ciavete finish doesn't come cheap
While the technique became common with mass-produced alloy frames before flowing back into steel and titanium construction, at the time this pushed the materials and craftsmanship to the limit.
Frame and equipment: surgical precision meets aesthetic insanity
The precision mitring (curved shaping to ensure the perfect tube on tube connection) removes any overlap, reducing the amount of metal needed and therefore producing the lightest frames possible. It also lets the frames flex and move to the maximum potential of the material and this construction is still preferred by Pegoretti in his Italian workshop.
The Duende is the entry-level model, using a Columbus Spirit-based tubeset with socketed rather than TIG-welded dropouts to save time and money. That means it ‘only’ costs £2150 (about $3,364 / AU$4,560) for the frame, Falz carbon fork, custom insertion depth Chris King D11 headset and surprisingly crude looking clamp-on front derailleur mount.
Ambrosio Excellight SSC rims are weighty but can handle rougher stuff
The welding and alignment is perfect from the extended head-tube to the distinctive socketed dropouts. The price includes a single colour finish of your choice, with panel designs at an extra £165, standard multi-colour paint jobs at £340 or the Ciavete finish seen here for £485. This option hands the creative reigns to Pegoretti – and the results can be anything from monochrome graffiti to embedded newspaper cuttings, abstract polychromatic panels or psychedelic explosions.
Ride and handling: a beautiful bruiser that heavyweights will love
While the aesthetic insanity and heritage is the reason many riders are happy to wait for months and pay a huge premium for a Pegoretti, how does the Duende ride?
Well, if you’re expecting something ethereal you’re in for a shock. Legendary riders like Stephen Roche, Miguel Indurain, Mario Cipollini, Claudio Chiappucci and Andrea Tafi used Pegoretti frames as their tools of the trade – and the Duende is a solid workhorse.
Heavyset riders are likely to love the Duende's steamrollering character
There’s little flow and spring here, and it’ll punish you if you put the Falz fork in the wrong place on a rough road. The Campagnolo Athena alloy parts and relatively heavy handbuilt wheels provided by UK importer Mosquito Bikes don’t do much for the Duende’s responsiveness or snap acceleration either.
But the PMP-centred wheels are beautifully built and when it comes to muscling a gear around with grim determination or carving through the roughest corners the Pegoretti is awesome. Features like the horizontal top tube and extended head tube also make the Duende suited to bigger, heavier riders who still want a piece of art, not just another mass-market carbon frame.