“Made in Italy” means many things to many people… at OFFICINE MATTIO (OM) it means going from fiber to tube forming to frame construction to paint without ever leaving Peidmont Region.
Roll south from OM’s headquarters and you have the Ligurian Sea with iconic destinations like Monaco and Nice to the west and Portofino to the east… In the center, you’ll find Genoa, and in the hills above the coast sits OM’s production facility. As ever in Europe, this is a nondescript building that hides the magic inside…
As factory visits go, this was one of my favorites. It took 20 minutes just to get me to remember we were there for things on two wheels versus 4… Before you see the pieces themselves, you see folks working on things substantially out of the ordinary for a frame shop…
In the USA, supercars are rarely driven in anything resembling anger but travel the world a bit and you’ll find the best on offer being driven to (and beyond) their capacity and design.
This is a shop dedicated to making some of the fastest vehicles in the world go faster.
And once you get a bit further into the shop, you start to understand that they’re pretty serious about making some of the best cycling kit on the planet. And when I say “making”, I mean going from test molds and prototypes to production molds to full-frame build, tube by tube, piece by piece from virtual scratch.
Given the process requires a couple of trips to the autoclave for a bit of bake and cure time, time wouldn’t allow a start to finish build with the review bike. But as OM had a couple of projects in process, we would still get a full look at all the steps.
With that, we’ll roll through the process from raw fiber to hitting the road with the Lemma 2.0.
Start in the raw…
There’s a mountain of fiber on hand. Unidirectional sheet, several weave densities, and modulus, raw fiber, prepreg, strand… They’re handling so many different processes here that it’s easy to get lost in it all if you’re the only guy in the room that hasn’t been doing this for a couple of generations.
For the tube sets being built up, that would mean hand cutting sheet prepreg.
These sheets for the main tube set are layered for strength, directional support, and a multidirectional (and aesthetic) top layer weave…
Then it’s over to custom machined molds. (OM didn’t ask for the insertion detail to be eliminated, but I would like to go back one day, so… you get the swirl…)
There are a couple of steps to the prep that we’ll leave out, but there is quite a bit of care to orient fiber. It’s a bit like a tailor lining up the pinstripes on a suit. The edge of the mold helps to set the direction of the outside weave.
Once the edge is set, it’s important to eliminate any air between the fiber and the mold and it also helps to pack down the layers.
It’s not always as simple as three sheets of fiber, there may be additional directional or support layers within the tube system.
Of course, not everything is as simple as a round tube.
There is a lot more complexity here to bring compression / short-fiber molded parts (say a dropout or a disc mount) together as a part of a single structure like the chainstays. In fact, one of the tougher bits to get right (in the case you want a special piece of kit rather than just another straight tube) is this little guy…
And of course, molding forks well has been relatively difficult for many in the past, and Officine Mattio makes the Lemma with a further complication to the fork that we will cover later.
Once all of the tubes are fabricated and cut to suit, our group at OM put everything together in a jig, just to have an eyeball look at what the Lemma tube set looked like in the flesh.
Once things looked proper, OM goes into the process of joining the tubes. It’s this process that sets OM apart from most builders.
Tube-to-tube custom carbon frames are relatively similar in process, but OM uses a process that creates something much more like a monocoque mold. The upside of monocoque molding (where the entire frame, and in some cases the full front triangle is produced as a single piece in one big mold) is a very solid, nearly jointless structure with cleaner, less bulky joints than lugged or tube to tube processes. The downside of monocoque is that the one-piece molds are expensive and so they’re limited to a few stock sizes, rather than a process that typically allows for full custom frames.
Officine Mattio has a process called IWS that produces similar results to Monocoque AND allows full custom frame geometry.
There’s no photography of this proprietary part of OM’s production process… It’s just too different from what’s being done elsewhere.
What I can show you are a couple of pictures from the outside looking into a couple of the joints that feature the process. This is the top tube / headtube, looking down from the top.
This looks relatively seamless inside, and the outside joint is a much smaller radius transition (less material around the tubes as they come together. Inside, this IWS frame looks quite a bit like a monocoque (which is molded with internal pressure, pressing the carbon out toward the mold).
This is different than the typical tube-to-tube joint process, where tubes are bonded together in a jig, then wrapped externally, then bagged, and finally pressurized (and heated) from the outside.
Have a look at the bottom end as well. Here, the BB shell is cut to the shape of the chainstay pieces and the wrap comes into the BB shell from the chainstay.
The benefit of IWS isn’t just cosmetic. In general terms, the longer the carbon fibers reach into the two pieces being joined, the stronger the joint will be. YES, layering and fiber direction are also important as is the overall volume (thickness) of fiber. The proper amount of pressure (at the correct temp) is also important to compress the materials together and push out any space/air between fiber layers. IWS gives you long fiber stretching into both pieces being joined and applies high forming pressure to compress the materials both inside and outside of the joint. And note that I said “into”, because when carbon fiber is properly molded and runs through a joint uncut, it becomes an integrated part of both pieces of that structure.
When all of this in-house love, going from raw fiber to tube crafting to frame composition is done well, the results are pretty damn nice…
The Lemma 2.0 is OM’s latest version aero all-rounder. This is a Kam tail main tube to and all the cables are nearly completely internal (Bar, stem, fork, frame) to help with the airflow.
The down tube cross-section is a little tough to pick out as Kamm (especially in black), however, the profiling is there especially when you think about the angle the air flows diagonally across the shape.
You can see the leading edge shape a little more through the fork…
You can also see how easily the 30 section tire fits on the Lemma’s fork… There’s similar space out back and the Lemma will hold a 35 section tire on most wheels.
Add the tire capacity to being able to spec geometry for any discipline and acknowledge the round head and seat tubes and the Lemma seems to be more of an exceptionally clean looking all-rounder.
Part of that clean-up process is a slick hose/cable routing set up for the fork…
The front of the fork is open for routing the front brake line into the steer tube, down through the crown, and into/out of the leg…
The steer tube itself also has channels for more routing out through the top and down tubes.
Roll out to the back, and the seat cluster is also very tidy…
Hidden binders are not new, but you don’t normally see them in as little space as is available on the Lemma… Officine Mattio handle this with a compression screw pushing a block against the seat post inside the seat tube.
You might notice a very slight bulge at the top tube / seat tube joint as this is one area where the full support for the joint is external wrapping. No cables or brakes to pass through here as the seat post is a standard inserted unit, and there’s not much point in running fiber inside the seat tube just to have to ream it out so the seat post fits. This extra slight bit of bulk also allows for the room to fit the seat binding set up.
Part of that slight bulge is also relative to the wide-flat section of the top tube…
The shape expands to 3 times the volume at the head tube where its function is to resist twist/side flex…
The down tube joint at the head tube is one of the better examples of just how tight/compact the IWS joint is. There is no excess material needed with internal/external reinforcement.
The down tube shape remains static as it moves away from the head tube. A clean joint and internal routing means nothing breaks the lines of the down tube. It’s shape remains unchanged virtually the full length.
Down below, we have the bottom bracket / seat tube/ down tube and stays… The big daddy of joints.
This is also a tight structure with IWS at the joints and the need for only an inch or two of external wrap.
The chain stays are molded with rear drops in place. (Though the proto was not built with standard QR drops.)
The Lemma on hand is TA, and note that the compression points are metal for production.
The stays are large box section and ribbed (both sides) to add volume & lateral stiffness in a smaller package…
They look a little nicer on the finished product (loaded with the correct parts of course).
Seats stays are a one-piece set, they’re bonded and wrapped at both ends – the rear drops inserting into the bottoms.
The stays are more round at the top and drops and flatten toward the middle…
CAMPAGNOLO’S Super Record 12…
The rear mech’s precision action and oversized pulleys, The front’s near instant changes and the ability to trim, The hood shapes refined, The levers adjustable to suit… And it’s beautiful.
Operationally, Campagnolo’s disc braking modulation is the current benchmark (Super Record through the range…). As mechanical shifting goes, Campagnolo’s 12 speed system is todays equal to a perfect battle trigger. I find Shimano smooth, so smooth it’s vague on multiple shifts or feathering single upshifts. Campagnolo’s Super Record, Record, Chorus shift easily, but the indexing gives you solid feedback gear by gear. Single shifts or multiple, your thumb can snap 1-2-3 gears and you never grab more than intended. Rolling back up the cassette you also get feedback between gears.
Yes electronics are great, but I like Campagnolo’s Mechanical in the same way I like Omega’s Speed and Sea Masters… You do your job, they do theirs, nothing unintended, no outside help needed, never need a battery.
(That said, the Lemma and relatively EVERYTHING else is easier to build with electronics…)
And while I nearly always go for Campagnolo’s wheels (and have a set here to swap to the Lemma if needed), I was also pretty pleased with the bling that came in the form of OM’s House wheels.
These are tubeless ready, with a subdued finish and graphics that match the build. OM build these in house and have hub combinations available to suit your needs. In this case, the matching gold OM logo’s and Gold Carbon Ti Hubs mix with subtle graphics to add a dash of a color so often over-done. In fact most folks miss the little message on the stays…
“Perfetta come l’acqua – solida come la roccia – leggera come il vento”
Do we really need to discuss the ride?
Officine Mattio is run by a man (third from right below) with a rider’s heart and staffed entirely by bike people who all have the similar goal of creating the nicest kit they can manage (and they can manage quite nicely), and they want to do relatively ALL OF IT without leaving Italy.
Their paint/finishing team is just down the road and it’s generations of talent in a brand new facility.
The carbon fiber crew is also in the Piedmont and also multigenerational, run by Sergio (second from right below) who’s frankly a genius with fiber (carbon, Kevlar, wood, it honestly wouldn’t surprise me if he could build a frame from whatever is growing near, or walking around the stream behind the shop…).
Even the distributor here in the US has likely ridden more miles across Europe and is probably faster in his 50’s than virtually everyone that will read this review… (he’s the guy on the far right above).
This is a group that, first and foremost, knows bicycles. Officine Mattio’s entire lineup is lust-worthy, from their carbon fiber to lugged steel, Stainless, Ti… They have an entire lineup of things made to measure (and stock) that share a similar minimalist aesthetic that let the substance of the frame stand out.
The Lemma 2.0? It’s now the bike getting the most miles in the house, by choice.
It’s stable, carries it’s weight low and handles well.
The look is incredibly clean.
Remove the bottle cages and it’s almost got a track bike-like refined look. Just a couple of inches of cable showing on a full mechanical build.
There’s no overt tech on the Lemma aimed at vibe or bump damping. No suspension or crazy-shaped tubes, and OM use high mod carbon and relatively high compression molding (partly due to the IWS process) throughout the frame and fork.
Despite this, the Lemma has a whole-frame kind of damping to it that feels a lot more like a bike that weighs another 5 pounds… It’s that 20 pound Ti bike from the late 90’s, smoooothing its way down the road. BUT step on the gas or dive into a corner and it also reminds me of the very first 13-14 pound carbon frame and ultra-light wheels I remember. The Lemma 2 has a very stiff/efficient bottom end yet it refuses to rattle your teeth or chatter across uneven pavement as if you were riding a Theragun massager. A lot of bikes this stiff in the drive seem skittish in corners, but this just feels planted but with feedback, you appreciate when pushing things.
A substantial part of this ride quality is down to tubeless 30 section tires at low pressure (a new-ish trend that is basically screwing up 30 years of benchmarks for me).
And as you think about that tire size, you realize you could be running a couple of sizes larger and if your geometry is right, this is a stonking nice Gravel Race bike? Toss on a smaller profile/lighter wheel (and leave the 30’s on) and here’s your climbing rig… 60 section wheels and 27-tubeless (or Campagnolo’s newest Shamal, which are a FANTASTIC all-around wheelset), and you have a deadly-smooth rolling Aero bike.
I’ve played the wheel and tire combination game with the Lemma 2 and I’m just happily confused. I played the geometry toward neutral and the Lemma 2 is two or three of the nicest bike I own.
Now if only I could afford that Ferrari 812 GTS… I could order OM’s SL model and have them ship it over along with a custom aero package for that and the 458 and get it all delivered at the same time.
Money, Time and Source
The Lemma 2.0 Frame, Fork, a very nice one-piece Bar/Stem (not shown in this review), and small parts in stock sizes is $7,499, full custom is $8,499 in stock finish/graphics. Of course, that will change beyond the custom geometry as you may spec finishes or flourishes well beyond the stock graphics and build.
Lead time today (11/1/2021) is 90 days for custom and 30 days for stock (depending on finish).
Before you get too cross-eyed at these amounts, remember this is similar to what a lot of Halo-level European bikes cost that offer nearly no customization AND are about as Italian as the clothes and purses sold on eBay or at your local swap meet. At least those Asian knock-offs on eBay have the decency to cost 50-75-90% discount, but the Far eastern bikes with Euro labels grab similar dollars to OM’s best.
Everything about the Lemma goes from sheets of carbon to finish to paint without ever leaving the Piedmont Region, AND in the case you go with the stock graphics, you can pick the colors (even on the stock sizes).
Multiple build kits are available as well as OM’s own wheelsets (the wheelsets can also be customized for label color and you have a few hub choices). You may want to vary the components so full pricing should be discussed directly with the retail source.
You can find more at: https://officinemattio.com/
Officine Mattio’s exclusive North American Importer is Soren Krebs at Velo-Italia.
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: +1 312 479 2478.
Red Lantern Cycles
640 Menlo Avenue
Menlo Park, CA 94025
P +1 650 853 3051
29041 Thousand Oaks Blvd.
Agoura Hills, CA 91301
P +1 818 597 8330
19600 Plummer Street
Northridge, CA 91324
P +1 818 597 8330
Cyclologic (Retail,Performance Optimization and motion analytics education)
9376 E Bahia Dr – STE D104
Scottsdale AZ 85260
Officine Mattio and Velo Italia are pleased to share that they are in the process of expanding their retail Partner network. To meet customer demand where no Officine Mattio Partners are established, Officine Mattio frames can be purchased by contacting Velo-Italia directly and or by reaching out to the retailers above.
Words and photography by Charles Manantan.
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