In the early to mid 1980s, during the infancy of Cycles Ferraroli SA, it appears that nearly all of their production was made-to-measure, or “sur mesure” in French. With each bike built to order for an individual, model names do not appear to have been used.
This catalog, dating from either late 1986 or 1987 based on the Shimano components shown and described, shows three related factors which made model names increasingly necessary as the company grew: mountain bikes, off-the-rack (“prêt à porter” in French) sizes and more affordable Ferraroli bicycles. While images of road and track bikes are featured in telling the brand’s story at both ends of the catalog, it is telling that mountain bikes dominate the middle of the book, offered under 5 different model names.
The mountain bike boom was starting to gain momentum at this time, with American brands leading the way. The prominence of MTB models in this catalog show Ferraroli attempting to position itself as a major European mountain bike brand. As a point of reference, Specialized only offered six mountain bike models in their catalog by 1988. By the end of the decade, it is arguable that they had succeeded, and had become the most influential European maker of mountain bikes.
By the early 1990s, this success led the brothers Ferraroli to source frames for more affordable models from Japan, eventually including off-the-rack road bikes. As the number of different specifications grew, more and more model names were needed to differentiate them, even when the frames on which they were based were identical.
What follows is my attempt to catalog and document as many of the model names used by Ferraroli as possible. If you have information which could expand or correct this list, please get in touch with me via comments or email. Thank you, and have fun!
This model name, while prominently featured in the 1986/1987 catalog, apparently did not last long. It is highly likely that there was a confict with Ritchey, whose Annapurna model name was already well established by this time. Anapurnas were all made-to-measure, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland.
This is the model name which I believe replaced Anapurna in the late 1980s. It appears to have been introduced around the same time as the Nevada, which created a group of three models named after states in the American West. Arizonas were all made-to-measure, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland.
This is the longest-standing model name for Ferraroli mountain bikes, and was always positioned at or near the top of the line. In the 1990s, sub-models of the California were introduced with new technology – see below. Californias were all made-to-measure, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland.
This California sub-model was introduced in the early 1990s, and was famous as the basis for a superlight build in the French magazine Velo Vert. California Lights were all made-to-measure, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland.
This California sub-model was introduced in the mid 1990s, and is notable for the very low attachment of its seat stays to the seat tube, as well as an uncharacteristic lack of lugs due to almost complete fillet-brazed construction. California Lights were all made-to-measure, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland.
This model, named after the mountain range which separates Spain from France, seems to have been introduced in the early 1990s. It appears to have been the least expensive model available with a Swiss-made, silver-brazed frame at the time, with a name which complimented the off-the-rack models of the time, two of which were also named for mountains or mountain ranges: Dolomites and Etna. Please note that the Tange forks shown on the purple bike are not representative of Ferraroli’s specifications, but their flat-crown aesthetics and Prestige blades were a much better match to this bike than the suspension fork which I originally found it with. Pyrénées were all made-to-measure, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland.
Before the introduction of brazed in Japan frames in the early 1990s, Ferraroli offered Swiss-brazed frames in off-the-rack sizes as a more accessible bridge to the top-end, made-to-measure models. The Engadine was positioned as the top of three such models, but appears to have used the same frame as the Jura model, differing only in specification. Engadines were all off-the-rack, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland.
Named after the mountain range in which they were made, Juras represented the middle model of the 1980s group of three prêt à porter Ferraroli mountain bikes, positioned below the Engadine and above the Doubs. Juras were all off-the-rack, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland.
Doubs refers to a winding river with headwaters in the Swiss Jura mountains, which flows into the French Départmente of the same name. As the entry-level, prêt à porter Ferraroli model in the 1980s, it was made in only three sizes, instead of the four offered in Engadine and Jura. Doubs were all off-the-rack, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland.
Nevada is known as the Silver State in the USA, but there is evidence that Ferraroli’s Nevada model may have started out as silver-brazed in Switzerland in the 1980s, but later shifted to refer to the top specification in a family of three, prêt à porter bicycles built with brass-brazed frames from Japan. All Nevadas appear to have been sized off-the-rack, and were painted and assembled in Switzerland.
Etna, the Sicilian stratovolcanic mountain, was the name used for the middle specification in the 1990s family of prêt à porter mountain bike models. My Etna appears to have been built with a painted to match RockShox fork, but most were likely delivered with a lugged, flat-crowned, rigid fork typical of the Ferraroli brand, as seen in the second picture. All Etnas were sized off-the-rack, brazed in Japan, then painted and assembled in Switzerland.
The Dolomites are the strikingly steep slopes of the Sudtirol, and their name was used for the entry-level specification of Ferraroli’s 1990s family of prêt à porter mountain bike models. Every Dolomites I have seen has been equipped with a unicrown-shaped fork with a lug at the junction of the steerer and two blades; otherwise, the Tange MTB brass-brazed frames are shared with the Etna and later Nevadas. All Dolomites were sized off-the-rack, brazed in Japan, then painted and assembled in Switzerland.
It appears that assigning names to Ferraroli road bikes did not begin until they introduced prêt à porter, brazed in Japan frames in the early 1990s. The Elegante name was one used to differentiate the Swiss-made, silver-brazed frames from their more modestly priced brothers. All Elegantes which I have yet seen incorporate a wishbone monostay, but as noted below, not all Ferrarolis with this feature are Elegantes. Interestingly, I have seen several small examples of this model with 650c wheels, but not any of the other road bike models. Elegantes were all made-to-measure, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland.
Joviale, meaning joyful, appears to have been a name also used for “fait sur mesure”, Swiss-made road bikes in the 1990s. I have only seen the Joviale name applied to frames with a more traditionally constructed seat stay arrangement than the wishbone monostay of the Elegante described above. Admittedly, I have never seen a frame with the Joviale name decal in person, so this model name is more of a mystery than most to me. Joviales were likely all made-to-measure, brazed, painted and assembled in Switzerland. If you have one, please share pictures and details with me.
Grazioso & Simpatico
Pretty by name and pretty by nature, it is hard to visually distinguish the wishbone equipped Grazioso frames from Elegantes, unless you have the benefit of the tubing sticker, the fork, or a scale. It is even more difficult to understand what differentiates a Grazioso from a Simpatico, as they share the Tange Infinity tube set and fully sloping fork crowns. Until I can inspect more of these models in person, it is tough to be certain of their sizing and country of brazing, but it is clear that like all Ferrarolis, they were painted and assembled in Switzerland.
A few years before Mavic introduced their first pre-built wheel set for mountain bikes in the late 1990s, Ferraroli built a model under this name, claiming to combine the best traits of both road and mountain bikes. Unfortunately, I have only ever seen pictures of one example, so it is too early to speculate on the sizing scheme or origin of the frame, but painting and assembly in Switzerland is a given.
I only caught a fleeting glance at a Ferraroli advertised with this name, meaning Switzerland in Italian. It was, unusually for this sport-oriented brand, a city bike with full equipment: lights, fenders and luggage carrier. Alas, it was part of a lot of four bikes found in apartment basement storage, and the landlord didn’t want to send better pictures or sell me just the one special bike. Until I see another, the sizing and source of this frame remains mysterious, but paint and assembly in Switzerland seems certain.
Track, Cyclocross and Children’s Bicycles
I have seen pictures or heard about Ferraroli bikes in these categories, but have not yet been able to associate any model names with them.
Again, if you have more information of your own, or corrections to mine, please don’t hesitate to share!
9 thoughts on “What’s in a name? Ferraroli model meanings explained”
I bought a used Ferraroli road bike in Geneva about 2006. I can’t find any model name. When I bought it, it was Compagnolo Chorus equipped. The frame is green on the top, changing to yellow on the bottom. Can you help me to find the model year, name and other information? When I bought it it had a fork from TIME, but it doesn’t look original.
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Thanks for the comment. This blog has been inactive for over a year, but I have bought, studied and sold several more Ferrarolis during the down time.
What’s the serial number (or numbers) stamped into the bottom of your Ferraroli’s frame? If it was made in the 1990s, the year within that decade will be coded by the first number, which will be lying on its side, oriented at 90 degrees from the rest of the numbers.
The decals can also help identify the approximate period during which the frame was painted. Solid block letters in the Ferraroli logo came first, followed by breaking up the block letters into pieces vertically, and last thin, script lettering.
I have a very late production (1998 serial number code and script logos) Ferraroli Performance road bike which came to me with a Time fork. It is quite small, and built based on 650C wheels. Perhaps yours looks like a larger version of it?
I have seen a frame which purports to be a Ferraroli Joviale, white paint with red script lettering. Not much else to determine the tubing. I will email you the picture if you wish.
Thanks for contacting me about a Ferraroli Joviale in white paint with red script.
I may have seen this frame on eBay France a while back. I later caught up with the same frame on Retrobike UK.
It would be interesting to see if it was the same frame. Sure, you can send me a pic or two at thekidmalone(insert at sign here)gmail.com.
For some reason the email address you gave me did not accept my message say invalid recipient.
How can I post pictures of my (I believe) Joviale? Let me know and I’ll send some across
Please send them to me by email at email@example.com. Please also check and share the serial number, or numbers, stamped into the bottom bracket shell.
I am an amateur mechanic in Bern and a couple of Ferrarolis have come under my hands. I love them and I am discovering more and more about them. I restaurated some and changed a little bit their builds, they work fantastic.
I would like to meet you or contact Mr. Alain Ferraroli to discuss and talk about those bikes, the story and the possibilities. Do you live in Switzerland? Do you know how I can contact A.F.?
Have a nice day,
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Good afternoon Elia,
Apologies for the delayed reply. I recently changed phones, and needed to reconnect with WP on the new device.
I live in Grenchen, Kanton Solothurn, not far from Bern. The last I knew, Alain Ferraroli was working in Ticino, and living nearby.
If you’d like to discuss what I‘ve collected about Ferraroli, let‘s start electronically, as my schedule is overloaded with work and family these days.
WhatsApp & Mobile + 41794715544