Ciocc – Mysterious Name, Great Bikes

Ciocc bicycles logo

I was recently reading a thread about converting vintage bicycles into fixed gear bikes on one of the vintage bike forums. One of the posters mentioned a Ciocc frame that they were working on. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “that’s a name that I haven’t heard for a long time.” I remember reading an article about Ciocc bikes in the early 80’s. Apparently, hardly anyone knew how to pronounce the name (it’s pronounced “chee-oh-ch”). Besides being  very nice handmade frames, they were unique for the Ciocc decal on the back of the seat tube. According to the article, it was placed there so that when you blew past another rider, they could see that you were riding a Ciocc.

Ciocc San Cristobal

Photo credit: channone / Foter.com / CC BY

History

Ciocc bicycles was started by Giovanni Pelizzoli who was born in Curno, Italy in 1942. His father was a bicycle mechanic and by the time he was 12 years old, the younger Pelizzoli had been bitten by the bicycle bug. He rode in his first race when he was 14 and was soon helping his father in the repair shop where he began to dream about building bike frames.

Pelizzoli apprenticed with a builder in Bergamo and learned how to build frames. After working with other frame builders for a time, Pelizzoli established his own company in 1969. According to Pelizolli, Ciocc was a nickname (“Poker Face” in the dialect around Bergamo) given to himself, his father, and his grandfather – so he put it on his bikes. While building frames, Pelizzoli worked as a mechanic for the G.S. Zonca professional racing team which included Gianni Motta. In 1977, amateur racer Claudio Corti won the U23 Worlds in San Cristobal, Venezuela on a Ciocc. Henceforth, the company’s signature model was called the “San Cristobal.”

During the 70’s and 80’s, the Polish National Team used Ciocc bikes, and at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, Czeslaw Lang of Poland rode a Ciocc to a second place finish in the 189 km individual road race. Afterwards, Pelizzoli started to build a model known as the  “Mockba 1980.”

In 1980, Pelizzoli sold the Ciocc name to Luigi Conti, a building contractor and bicycle fanatic. In 1991, Conti sold the company to a trio of his frame builders – Stefano Bonati, Giuseppe Biffi and Giacomo Conti. Giacomo Conti soon left the company but Bonati and Biffi, with the addition of Caesare Biondi, continue to make Ciocc bikes to this day.

Fortunately, after he sold the Ciocc name, Pelizolli’s frame building genius and knowledge was not completely lost to the sport. In 1983, he began building frames under the Pelizzoli name and in 1993, he went to work as head of design and manufacturing of high end racing frames for Masciaghi, makers of Fausto Coppi frames. Coppi frames were used by Team Polti and have been ridden by such greats as Richard Virenque, Michele Bartoli, Gilberto Simoni, Paolo Bettini, and Giro d’Italia winner Ivan Gotti.

Today, Pelizzoli builds a few of his own frames, but he is primarily known for his amazing paint jobs. His frame painting company is called TITAAC and along with his own frames, he paints Guerciotti frames and also builds some  aluminium frames for Guerciotti.

Giovanni Pelizzoli with one of his frames

Giovanni Pelizzoli with one of his (amazing) frames. Photo copyright eroicacicli.com.

Features

Along with the rearward facing Ciocc decal on the seat tube, Ciocc frames built by Pelizolli featured the company logo, the four suits in a pack of cards, pantographed on the  fork crown, the name Ciocc pantographed on the seat stays, and a bottom bracket cut out. Some of the frames built by Pelizzolli also have a signature decal on the top tube.

Ciocc San Cristobal

Photo credit: channone / Foter.com / CC BY

Even though Giovanni Pelizzoli didn’t make Ciocc frames for very long, his successors did a great job of continuing the tradition of frame building excellence that he established. Ciocc is not one of the better known names in Italian bike building, which could be a very good thing for anyone who is looking for a high quality, handmade vintage Italian bike to add to their collection. I know that I am. If you are interested in buying a new Ciocc, you can check out the current bikes on the Ciocc website.

I'm a writer, social media marketer, and bike nut from Kelowna, BC, Canada. I got serious about cycling in about 1980 and have a special fondness for bikes made during that decade. I enjoy researching and writing about all bikes, but especially those made by small builders, many of whom only built bikes for a few years.

31 comments on “Ciocc – Mysterious Name, Great Bikes
  1. Jack Queen says:

    I recently bought a vintage CIOCC in Nashville where I now live. I have a vintage Cinelli that I raced in California when I was a student at UCSB in the 1960s. I had sent my wrecked Schwinn Paramount back to Chicago for repairs after a crash and enjoyed the stability of the Cinelli riding down San Marco pass in the mountains behind Santa Barbara. I’m loving my CIOCC which came to Nashville from Caliper Bike shop in White Planes NY and ended up for sale in a small bike shop in Nashville. Off for a ride with my daughter this AM who has learned the joys of fine cycling! JQ

  2. Bryon Voltzow says:

    I have decided to sell my 1989 Ciocc San Cristobal, 56cm, red & chrome. I built it up new myself as my dream bike with full Campy Chorus groupset and Mavic wheels. I have been very attentive to it’s maintenance and it has only been ridden in the rain a few (unplanned) times – so, it is close to new in condition. It has always been one of my collection, so not many actual kilometers. It still exudes the feeling of “I’m not worthy” to me!
    If there is some interest in acquiring ‘the real deal’ my email is bryon@voltzow.com Cheers!

    • Jack Queen says:

      My wife and I are working on some unclaimed mineral deeds from OK so if they pan out….I’ll make you and offer. Heading back to the North West this year. rain is no problem unless you tend to melt.

  3. Ciao!
    After purchasing and competing on two separate Ciocc framesets; a Ciocc Pro Race Dedacciai 16.5 EOM and a Ciocc Monocoque “Morpho,” I found Signore Pelizzoli and he custom-built me two “Aeta” XCR framesets, one for my wife and one for myself. It is easily the best-riding, most comfortable frameset I have ever ridden; and it has all the tell-tale signs of the same craftmanship with which Giovanni applied to my earlier two Ciocc frames. Thanks for the great article! http://www.gulfbreezecyclingclub.org

  4. B. Zammit says:

    There is a YouTube video of Giovanni Pelizzoli explaining
    how to pronounce Ciöcc and what it means. Basically, in
    his own words, it has no meaning whatsoever.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJHwPqn2jY0

  5. Monte Madsen says:

    Ciocc makes absolutely beautiful carbon frames to this day. I built one up with Campy Record esp. Amazing.

  6. Torben Petersen says:

    Hi,
    I’m wondering. I have two Ciocc bikes. One have the distinctive logo on the steering tube, the other just have the name Ciocc written top to bottom. Do you know what is the correct decal for the steering tube, or have the both been used?
    Thanks for article – nice reading.

    • Bruce Goett says:

      Hey Torben, thanks for your comment. Both versions were used. I think earlier frames have Ciocc spelled vertically and later bikes have the logo that looks sort of like a four leaf clover with the symbols from a deck of cards with Ciocc spelled underneath it. Ciocc experts are welcome to weigh in if I have it wrong.

      • The builder, Giovanni, now builds custom framesets for Pelizzoli World (Alessandro Caccia & Company). He can be contacted there to authenticate any of his prior work. My wife and I have two Aeta XCR Columbus-tubed steel framesets and they are u rivaled in immaculate detail and ride quality. Enjoy the ride!

  7. Torben Petersen says:

    Dear Bruce and Richard,
    Thank you both for your input. It’ much appreciated.
    I will try and contact Pelizzoli.

  8. Nicholle says:

    I’ve been doing some research into Pelizzoli because my teenage son recently ordered a frame from them. They were happy to take his money, but as soon as he paid his deposit, they stopped communicating with him. After checking their Facebook page, I found a list of about 40 other people that they’ve done the same thing to. I don’t know what’s going on at their end, but they seem to be taking money from people and never sending the frames. If they have a waiting list or a production problem, they should at least inform customers.

    • Bruce Goett says:

      Hey Nicholle,
      Sorry to hear about that. I hadn’t heard anything negative about Pelizzoli but being a small operation, maybe customer service and communication aren’t their strong suits. I see there’s a Facebook group that’s been set up for people who’ve had a bad experience with company.

  9. bob shaw says:

    I have that midnight blue bike. I thought 1986. Giro D’ Italia.

    Mostly campy/super campy with some 90s upgrades (pedal, brakes, etc.). Love the chrome forks. I heard a rumour they came from Old man DeRosa house basement.

    Let me know if you are interested in purchasing.

    bobwshaw@earthlink.net

  10. David says:

    Bruce, your article is pretty interesting though I will be a little disappointing in my comment. The experience with Pelizzoli World was evident on a complete bike order I placed with them 20 months ago. I finally received photos of the frame. It happened exactly as mentioned by Nicholle. That affected me lots that talked to a lawyer, he recommended me pushing more, they responded. Then I realized they were excellent craftsmen but not businessmen, I knew then they will deliver. However, the disorder is at a cost: they choose the wrong color alternative(between color 1 and 2, I finally wanted 1, they painted 2 instead) and the wrong drop-outs but the gruppo, wheels, and the rest look good and as specified. The painting is amazing (photo). Please, they don’t manage business, they just run a shop. I read Sr Pelizzoli had other brand “Gion” that also stop producing, no good. I hope I don’t find more flaws when I see the bike here. I have read many things. NOTE: if the final delivery is that good, it’ll be hard for me to reject the idea having another bike by Pelizzoli…very difficult to deal with them, you got to be straight-forward on your requests otherwise they also confuse… a sour-sweet experience!

    • Bruce Goett says:

      Hey David, that’s a drag. I don’t think it’s ever been uncommon for a framebuilder to be a much better builder than a businessman or customer service agent. Hopefully when the bike arrives it will be well worth the frustration.

  11. Dionysis says:

    Great article, thanks!
    Just one question: are you sure that “a bottom bracket cut out” o n a Ciocc is enough proof that it has been built by Pelizzoli?

  12. Kepzr says:

    Bought and built my Ciocc in 1988, still riding it today. I love my bike, bright red with campy chorus parts. Finally ready to upgrade to a new bike, so happy they are still making bikes. Can’t wait to get my new Ciocc.

  13. Chris says:

    Hi I just bought a older model Mockba 80 all red, no chrome with Serial# C914 (the 9 is much smaller than all the other characters so not sure if it’s even a 9)
    It has all the telltale signs of a Pelizzoli build, but if the bike is a 1982 or 3 or so on – did Pelizzoli actually build the bike? If he sold the name to three of his builders as you mentioned wouldn’t they have been the ones building the bike? How can I determine what year the bike actually is by the serial number?

    • Bruce Goett says:

      Hey Chris, I would assume that if they bike was made in 82 or 83 it would have been built by someone else. Ciocc serial numbers are all over the place. Some contain the frame size, year etc. No idea what C914 would mean.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*