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 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 (amazing) frames. Photo copyright eroicacicli.com.
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.
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.