Established in 1896, Emmo Ghelfi founded the Frejus brand in Torino, Italy, building a small workshop in the courtyard of the Piazza Statuto. He would be one of the first manufacturers of bicycles in the whole of Italy, naming his brand after the nearby Monte Frejus, on the border of Italy and France.
Emmo and his brother designed and hand-built every frame Frejus produced, focusing on sleek lines, simple lug-work and balanced handling. The Frejus name grew to acclaim during the 1930s, as the great Gino Bartali rode to victory during the 1935 Giro d’Italia upon a Frejus bicycle. Many successes would follow, from 6 world championship titles to Ferdie Kubler’s win of the Tour de France in 1950. Their world championship successes were immortalised on every bicycle, as for every victory came a new Campione del Mondo stamp on the head tube.
As the second half of the 20th Century turned, Frejus were looking to expand. Sales negotiations with Emilio Bozzi of Legnano began and the Turin workshop was moved to Milan, with the intention of co-producing bicycles with Bozzi. However, this partnership was shortlived following the unfortunate events surrounding Bozzi’s death. It wasn’t long before Bianchi bought the rights to the Frejus name; from then on, Frejus ceased to manufacture bicycles.
Umberto Scapin founded his eponymous brand in 1957, following a highly respectable career as a professional cyclist. From the very beginning, it was his intention to make incredibly unique bicycles, made by hand and finished with a fastidious attention to detail.
Early models from Umberto’s workshop are rare and unusual. Cromovelato paintwork was occasionally used, lugs were highly refined and some models included superb pantographs. Not one, however, was the same. Some were even gold plated, and as far as bicycles are concerned, Scapin created the most precious frames in history.
In a cotemporary context, Scapin is regarded as potentially the most prestigious and flamboyant brand in the Italian bike industry. Both in production and design, Scapin bikes are the choice of only the most obsessive connoisseurs. Nothing has been lost from Umberto’s philosophy; quality, detail and individuality are the cornerstones of modern Scapin bicycles. Craftsmanship, despite modern production methods, remains at the forefront of Scapin products, which are still made in Italy to this day.