Cerchio del Ghisallo workshop visit

This is the story of one of the perfect examples of Italian craftmanship related to the world of bicycles. Giovanni Cermenati was just a little kid when he started to learn how to make wooden rims. In 1945 he joined the company “D’Alessandro Milano” and he learned quickly how to do his job, making the finest wooden rims available on the market. But Mr. Giovanni was what we can call a dreamer, and already in 1953, he moved up to the mountain of the most famous cyclist sanctuary of Italy, and not only that, he opened his own workshop and started branding his products as “Cerchio del Ghisallo”. Today, after nearly 60 years, Giovanni, with the help of his son Antonio, still makes his wooden rims, in the only way he knows, with his skilled hands of course. After meeting him, we can certainly say that he’s not even close to stop doing his lovely job, a workaholic almost 80 years old.

The fresh air brought into the company by Antonio made it possible for this small family run business to, after just a few years, be available basically all over the world, with a complete range of wooden rims for tubulars and clinchers and a series of really interesting products such as wooden handlebars, bar grips, racks and different models of mudguards. Everything made out of wood of course. And even more products are gonna be available on the market soon. It’s definitely worth paying a visit to their online catalog.

Often, people think that a wooden rim is extremely beautiful to look at, but not strong enough for a daily use. Well this is just wrong, and there are many proofs. In case you’re looking for a perfect mix of tradition and technology, “Cerchio del Ghisallo” is now giving an extremely interesting option to all their costumers, a carbon fiber reinforcement, which makes the side walls of  wooden rims for clinchers much stronger, capable to tolerate pressures up to 9 bar. An interesting upgrade that doesn’t have impact on the traditional procedure of the making of a Cerchio del Ghisallo.

The making of wooden rims didn’t change much in 60 years, and most of the tools used by the Cermenati family are still the same as back then, which makes their products even more attractive to our eyes. The entire procedure starts with the cutting and shaping of thin layers of wood, mostly beech, which later are gonna be bent and glued together in a circular shape. These big circular blocks of wood are then placed into a mold to be pressed and shaped into a perfect circle. After 24 hours the mold is open and it’s time for the finishing. These circular piece of wood are carefully cut into their final shape and placed in a special drilling machine which makes the holes for the spokes. To finish the job, a series of paint layers and clear coat are applied. The result it’s a special piece of craftmanship, ready to equip a special bicycle.

Many thanks to the Cermenati family for the hospitality and for the amazing story of their company. Soon we’ll be back to hear more about their past and their projects for the future, since it seems that there will be interesting news soon.

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