I do not quite know what is going on with Rosa Racer. This is a firm which has been promoting itself in the press recently as some kind of a 'green' messiah because they say they assemble bicycles in Walthamstow from bits made abroad. Apparently they should get a medal for this, not because someone local is being kept off the dole (there is no evidence for this), but because they are an 'eco' business. You apparently qualify as 'green' these days merely for not being from China, by the way.
Rosa Racer do not actually make very much of their bike in the UK, let alone in Studio 17 in the Hilton Business centre in Hatherley Mews in Walthamstow.
The frames are brought in from Italy, for instance. By sea. (We are not told whose ships are used, or how they are made). The frames are made there from 'recycled Italian steel', by 'Italian craftsmen'. Then they're shipped to the UK and put together by a chap called Diego Lombardi. I am not sure what 'recycled Italian steel' actually is by the way. Is it steel that was originally made in Italy and then recycled, or is it any old steel, possibly brought in from China or America, which happens to have found its way to Italy - where it then just happens to be recycled. I do not know.
The tubing is branded 'Columbus' or 'Dedacciai', a source of steel which seems to sell quite well, even in the USA. The company websites do not seem to mention that their steel is recycled but I suppose we have to bow to Mr Lombardi's insider knowledge. Interestingly, Columbus do tell us that their latest steel, XCr, was originally designed by the company at the request of and in conjunction with the Italian armaments industry to be a new martensitic stainless steel with a high content of Chromium and Molybdenum and Nickel as alloy elements, to increase the mechanical and weldability characteristics. Which weapons system the alloy was designed to go into is presumably a state secret, but whatever, let's call it 'green' just for the hell of it. Everyone else is these days. I probably wouldn't care about any of this, by the way, if it were not for some of the comments Mr Lombardi has made about other countries' and manufacturers' products in order to promote his own.
Mr Lombardi's bikes, you see, are all supposed to be so much more ethical and environmentally friendly. This is according to the guy helping them with their self promotion in the Guardian, a writer called Simon Munk. Mr Lombardi, is quoted as saying that despite his claims to be greener than thou, he can't source frames in the UK for some reason, notwithstanding the fact that several other British bike makers build their frames in the UK. "We would love to do everything here," says Lombardi. "But we cannot find British-sourced steel or reliable frame makers."
My bullshit-o-meter has gone off the scale. What Mr Lombardi means is, he doesn't want to source his frames in the UK. This may not even be on grounds of cost or quality but simply because he is an outlet for his Italian business partners, who are probably his relatives given the fact that he buys his frames from a firm called 'Lombardi Biciclette'. What we have here is a man using the pretence of being 'green' to spin us a line and flog off an Italian product made by his relatives.
I am willing to speculate that Mr Lombardi has no intention whatsoever of ever making his products with wholly British sourced bits. Why would he? The family business has been building frames in Italy for over 60 years.
I have nothing against Mr Lombardi being an Italian nationalist by the way. What I object to is his nonsense. To justify his refusal to contribute to the British economy by buying a British made frame he claims that these are made using American steel, as if there is also something inherently wrong with American steel. 'Britain's big bike tube maker, Reynolds, sources 'some steel' from America', Mr Lombardi is quoted in the Guardian article. True or not, that is no reason per se for me to buy an Italian bike.
Having slagged off the Chinese (an estimated 95% of bikes sold are produced in Taiwan or China, which must, without any explanation be a Bad Thing'), the British and the Americans, Mr Lombardi admits to sourcing his tyres in Taiwan. The mutinational Mr Lombardi then has the cheek to claim "Multinational bike companies are like McDonalds. They produce disposable products for maximum profit."
Now I will slag off McDonald's with the best of them, but are we being spun a line when told this is an eco-friendly family business? Is Mr Lombardi really just in business selling remarkably over-priced bicycles from abroad (a new one costs a grand), while claiming to be 'greener than the rest'?