8 Jan 2021
WORKSHOP STORY: EP#1 SOMEC
Passion, tradition, devotion. It’s time to dive into a new series, discovering the stories from some historical workshops that have chosen FSA and Vision to provide the best service to their customers and bike users.
Our journey inside the workshops starts in Italy, more specifically in Lugo, a small town between the seaside and countryside of the Romagna Riviera, a land of friendly people with a great passion for the bike.
At the centre of this history, there is Oliviero Gallegati, a historical craftsman of the bike taking the path of Italian tradition.
Oliviero worked as a welder in a mechanical company and in his spare time he devoted himself as sports director for the kids of a local cycling team: the SC Baracca di Lugo. Then, pursued by some managers of the team, in 1973 he founded his own workshop with some partners and developed the bike brand “Somec”, the acronym of Società Meccanica. At the end of the '70s the Somec bikes were ready to make their appearance at the first international trade fairs.
A STORY OF TRADITION AND INNOVATION
In late 70s, Oliviero invented the vertical rears that engage in the saddle screw attachments. Until then the vertical hindquarters were positioned in the vertical tube but lower. The elegance of this innovation is evident and on a technical level the rigidity remains unchanged.
Another of Oliviero’s inventions was the Ciclomaster, the tool used to "take measurements" of the rider. A supporter since the dawn of the made-to-measure frame, Oliviero invented this structure which was then copied by many.
Nowadays, Somec certainly has monocoques, but the custom-made frame remains its core business. They also have a great focus on customizing the colour of frames, also giving the customer the possibility to choose the type of stem, handlebar, groupset, saddle and wheels to mount.
Still to this day, photos of vintage Somec steel bikes from all over the world arrive at the Somec workshop. Even the very first frames from 1973-1974 when experimental logos were used, before arriving at the definitive one of the tulip with the horse inside. It’s always a great pleasure to see how much people are linked to Somec bikes, not only because they perhaps belonged to a relative or because the owner is passionate of vintage bikes, but because they create an emotion.
THE ROBIN WILLIAMS’S ORDER
A particular episode in Somec’s story was when they received an order at the end of the 90s for a bike from Mr. Robin Williams, the late actor, passionate about racing bikes (he had many brands). Although they never met him in person, the Oliviero’s sons Marco and Lara sent him a letter in which they told him how much they liked “Mork and Mindy” TV show in a simple but sincere letter and he answered them very affectionately. Later in some interviews where he talked about his passion for bikes, he also talked about Somec.
Other curiosities concern a Somec loyal Danish customer who over the years has built a real “Somec museum”, a fairly large and varied collection of models in his own garage. Other customers order the bike with the colour of the sports car they parked in the garage: it happened with Ferrari, as well as with BMW. There’s also a picture with a young George Hincapie with a Somec bike during one of his first races ever at Central Park in New York City.
FROM FATHER TO SONS
Today the workshop in Lugo is carried on by the Oliviero’s sons, Lara and Marco, together with their collaborators: some are former cyclists who continue to ride for passion. The customers who are looking for Somec always have a polite approach, because they know that behind this Italian historical workshop there is a “family” company that cares about their wishes and tries to give their best to satisfy them.