Magistroni bicycle components, the leviathan of Italian cycling manufacturing industries. No one could ever have imagined the demise of this legendary bike parts company.
At Coff's Harbour in banana country New South Wales Australia, a black and chrome spinning symbol, representing the end of a giant amongst north Italian manufacturing firms, is kept on display in the office of a local bike collector. The story of this Magistroni crankset sounds too good to be true, a cycling fable. The custom crankset made by S.A. Officine Meccaniche di Vedano in the mid 1960's, was found decades later in the back of a bike shop in Milano. The only crankset ever made to look like this and badged with the Magistroni name. A one off and an immediate failure. There were meant to be many thousands more made and sold and the name Magistroni was meant to carry forward for generations, but it was never to be. The special trade show edition crankset was taken to the big bike shows like Milan, yet the world had moved on, no one wanted to buy the old name of Magistroni any more. The S.A. Officine Meccaniche di Vedano plan had failed, time, technology and stronger competition relegated the name Magistroni to the history books.
This Magistroni crankset is now a curiosity, mounted on it's custom made stand, a one off piece originally crafted to rescue the Magistroni name from dropping into the abyss of obscurity for outmoded companies.
In cycling, when components were made of steel and cranks were held in place by cotter pins, the name Magistroni ruled. Champions like Fausto Coppi fitted the Magistroni "Tipo: Giro d' Italia" crankset to their race machines. A 1947 advertisement of S.A. Officine Meccaniche di Vedano Al Lambro shows an aerial photograph of their manufacturing plant, an extensive modern facility in Monza, right near the famous motor racing circuit. Producing not only L. Magistroni components, the juggernaut north Italian firm were supplying finished parts to an extensive list of companies including Bianchi, Frejus, Olmo etc. The name L.Magistroni was favoured in the late 1940's advertising, a time when Luigi Magistroni had some trademarks registered in his own name and Emilo Giostra was the president of S.A. Officine Meccaniche di Vedano. Giostra was also registered as a trademark and used to market the companies moped parts including Telesimplex forks. A carousel was drawn into the Giostra and Magistroni trademarks in 1947, representing the literal translation of Emilio Giostra's surname, Carousel or Merry-Go-Round.
The Magistroni story began in 1921 when the Magistroni brothers (Fratelli Magistroni) registered the name FMV or Fabbricazioni Meccaniche Vedano. FMV began immediately manufacturing headsets, bottom brackets, cranksets and related parts like seat pins. Trademark applications for FMV also included frames and parts for mopeds. An early 1920's advertisement for FMV lists many different industrial machines as product lines. By the 1940's the trading name F.M.V had evolved to S.A. Officine Meccaniche di Vedano Al Lambro. A late 1940's advertisement emphasises that the specialised parts company offered fine articles in lightweight nickel and chrome plated steel. That idea worked out really well until companies like Campagnolo began producing bicycle components in newer lightweight alloys and coming up with ideas like removing cotter pins from cranksets.
Looking at Greg Softley's black and chrome Magistroni show piece, it's easy to see why the "Aero" Magistroni crankset failed. You could buy a lightweight alloy Campagnolo crank that fitted to a Campagnolo bottom bracket axle with a bolt and washer, for racing cyclists and team mechanics the benefits were obvious. The Magistroni crank, despite it's "New Aero" design, was a steel and chrome dinosaur, fitted to the bottom bracket axle with a cotter pin system that had remained intact from the era of the Magistroni brothers FMV days. Officine Meccaniche di Vedano Al Lambro had tried to make the crankset Aero by sculpting a set of crank arms into a new lightweight steel design. Trying to hoodwink the industry into believing it was a good idea to conceal the cotter pin behind a very difficult to remove cover wasn't a great plan. The cranks were still made of steel, plated with chrome and the cotter pin was still there, hidden under a cover. The magician's trick failed to impress anyone and the once great company was forced to close their doors.
The name Magistroni is imprinted on cranksets, headsets and bottom brackets yet Magistroni was only one of many registered trademarks of Officine Meccaniche di Vedano Al Lambro. You'll find here a timeline for F.M.V and Officine Meccaniche di Vedano Al Lambro, plus the registered trademarks from the late 1940's.
Special thanks to Greg Softley for sharing his insights and rare gear. All images, research and story by Robert Cobcroft.
TIMELINE1921 The Magistroni brothers of Monza registered F.M.V in November 1921, Fabbricazioni Meccaniche Vedano Manufacturing parts for, cicli, motocicli, e veicoli e relativi parti e accesso ai come telai, guarnitura ecc. Source :Archivio Centrale dello Stato
Early 1920’s FMV advertisement Telefono 23-33 Monza Industria per la Fabbricazioni di Guarniture, Serie Movimento, Serie Sterzo Per Ciclo. Torchi per Vinacce, Molini a Palmenti, Accessori per la Filatura e Tessitura del Cotone, Lana. Impianti Completi per oleifici moderni, panifici, pastifici, forni elettrici, la lavorazione del legno, la filatura dei bozzoli Presses, Millstones, Accessories for Spinning and Weaving Cotton , Wool . Complete systems for modern oil mills, bakeries, pasta factories, electric ovens, woodworking, spinning cocoons.Source :Vedano Al Lambro Comune di Vedano
1924 Trading from Viale Monza 5 right near the famous Monza race track. North east of Milano. Source :Vedano Al Lambro Comune di Vedano
1929 Originally trading as Fabbricazioni Meccaniche Vedano the company was registered under the old idea that shareholders could remain anonymous, hence Societa Anonima Fabbricazioni Meccaniche Vedano (Capitale Sociale L. 2.000.000 Vedano Al Lambro, Li (Milano) Source :Vedano Al Lambro Comune di Vedano
1934 The company is in crisis and placed into liquidation and at the end of 1934 fired the last fifteen employees. A company takeover resulting in the company producing products under the brand name "L. Magistroni". Source :Vedano Al Lambro Comune di Vedano
1940 August Invoice from S.A Officine Meccaniche di Vedano. Vedano Al Lambro (Monza) Marca, “L.Magistroni” Pedivelle, Ingranaggi, Serie Sterzo, Serie Movimento, Mozzi Con Freno Source :Vedano Al Lambro Comune di Vedano
In 1942 in Italy, due to corruption and anonymous (Anonima) shareholders, Società Anonima was dropped in favour of Società per Azioni, S.p.A. Where apparently tighter controls over companies was achieved with less corruption.
1946 Late 1940’s, Emilio Giostra becomes president of S.p.A. OFFICINE MECCANICHE DI VEDANO AL LAMBRO. For the local people around Monza the company is affectionately known as "Ul Magistron". The people of Vedano were proud of the firm’s fame in cycling, the firm had built up many exceptional relationships with famous cyclists including Fiorenzo Magni. It is said that Fausto Coppi had occasionally visited the factory. Beginning in 1946 and for many years later, the Coppa Magistroni race was organised. April 10, 1946 in the newspaper Voce del Popolo, “The riders of Monza and Vedano have organised an excellent race, the Coppa Magistroni.” The start line was out the front of Trattoria del Leone and one hundred and two riders were flagged off by the president Emilio Giostra. Source :Vedano Al Lambro Comune di Vedano
Mid 1960’s The company can’t compete with Campagnolo. In a last ditch effort they produce an “Aero Cotterless” crankset that wasn’t cotterless at all. They had just hidden the cotter pin under a clip. The new Aero crankset with it's hidden cotter pin is taken to trade shows, no one bought the idea and the once mighty company fades into obscurity. Source : Greg Softley and attached images
Late 1960's The last production Magistroni cranks were produced, still in steel, called the Zenith. Some Magistroni alloy chainrings were produced, but obviously never really stepped up to the plate when being serious about competing with Campagnolo, Stronglite and later Japanese competition. The Zenith did not have cotters, but was still steel and had an unusual BB crank fixing, requiring a dedicated BB set. Source : Notes from Greg Softley
Years Later The rare Aero crankset is found out the back of a bike shop somewhere in Milano and ends up in Coff’s Harbour Australia. Greg Softley the bike collector adds the Magistroni crankset to his ever expanding collection of historical cycling components. Source : Greg Softley and attached images
Special thanks to Greg Softley for sharing his insights and rare gear.All images, research and story by Robert Cobcroft.
On December 19 1929, the company name changed from F.M.V and was registred as “Societa Anonima Fabbricazioni Meccaniche a Vedano al Lambo (Milano)” S.A. (Limited Liability Company)
All trademark data used under creative commons license, original files can be found at http://dati.acs.beniculturali.it/