Steve Barner wrote (much snipped)
> I think Guiseppe (Pepe) Marinoni is one of the least recognised of the great builders of the '70s-'80s. His name is Giuseppe with the i before the u and his nickname is Beppe not Pepe.
> His connections in Italy, where he raced as a youth, gained him access to materials and components at "insider" pricing, which he proceeded to pass along to his customers in the form of very afffordable pricing. He had no 'insider' connections, he simply was able to deal with the Italians in their own language. There is no "insider" pricing. He also benefitted from the fact that most Italian companies did not have official distributors in Canada, so he was able to purchase direct, a luxuxry not allowed to most American builders. Furthermore, he generally purchased everything in Lira instead of US dollars as insisted upon by most Americans. With the insistence on buying in dollars, most Italians simply added in a large devaluation and exchange rate cushions into their prices(remember that in the 80's Italy had double-digit inflation and there was considerable uncertainty of the lira).
> His frames exhibited workmanship that was at least the equivalent of the Colnagos, Bassos, DeRosas and other high-end production Italian bikes of the period. I have owned more than my share of his bikes, most of which were custom-made and while I agree his bikes were and still are amazing values, his workmanship has never come close to matching De Rosa's or pre-1975 Colnago's. You could however compare them to a Basso. Another interesting point is that two custom-made bikes that I bougth from him two years apart in the early 80's (with the exact same measurements being supplied to him!) turned out with different geometries. They did however resemble precisely the measurements of his 'stock' frames made in the same year. It was my experience that the only 'custom' adjustments that he made were personal touches such as initials in fork crowns or seatstay caps.
> The favorable exchange rate also worked to make his frames an exceptional value, even after the duty was added. I bought my Marinoni frames in Canada without there being any duty to contend with. This goes to show just how much more competititve the Canadian market was and apparently still is as his frames were considered 'good' deals, never 'exceptional'.
> Marinoni had all the same attributes of the revered Italian builders, with a few exceptions. First, he actually did the work. Did Ugo or Ernesto braze their own harps in the '80s? I don't think so. Please read any of many many posts in the archives and you will then know that Ugo, to this day, builds frames every day. Furthermore, not a single frame leaves the De Rosa shop without at least one member of the family checking it out. Marinoni is not able to say this and hasn't been able to say so for quite some time.
> Second, you could buy your frame directly from the builder, or from a shop who worked with the builder. Anybody can go to any semi-industrial Italian framebuilder directly and buy a bike. This holds for all the builders mentioned by Steve: De Rosa, Colnago, Guerciotti, Basso and any number of others.
> Third, Marinoni has stayed personally connected to racing. He actually won his age category a few years ago in the Mt. Washington Hill Climb! This is totally meaningless because at best this could possibly help with designing one frame size. Far more meaningful is building bikes for a full team of pros accustomed to riding top of the line bikes.
> I sometimes think that if Marinoni had moved back to Italy and doubled or tripled his prices, he would have captured the mystique that we tend to reserve for those who rip us off. Builders like Marinoni are a dime a dozen in Italy. Most every larger town or city in Italy has its local builder offering bikes similar in quality and content to the big-name builders but at budget prices. With his same marketing and without patronage of a top rider or pro team, Marinoni would never have been able to capture any more mystique than any of these other fine builders. He would also have lost the comparatively large 'captive' Canadian market that he 'owns'. The last comment about ripping people off is uncalled for as it is the consumers who are solely responsible for this. Consumers buy into mystique instead of relying on past experience of their predecessors. It is also exceedingly rare that it is the framebuilder that 'earns' the big bucks. Most of the money from the high-end bikes and frames goes to pay for costs (advertising, pro team sponsoring, distributor/importer/wholesaler/dealer mark-up, trade show costs, brand protection... etc) that are brought on directly by consumers. I have recently bought three different Italian bikes from small builders that remain unknown to the general public: a Soncini, a Marnati and a Zanardi. Each one of these easily outshines the best Marinoni that I have ever seen and likely most De Rosa's. The Soncini and Zanardi have some build details that make them unique and I dare say 'special' to any CR member. Marnati on the other hand is one of the many ghost-builders to the pros. These are the framebuilders who have long been building the frames under the pros without it being known or acknowledged. I have received confirmation that Marnati built many if not most Gios and many Bottecchia pro team bikes. The pros know and trust him and would support him in making the jump to the 'big leagues.' This is precisely how Masi, De Rosa, Cinelli, Pogliaghi and Colnago all initially made their names. Marnati has apparently decided that he is better off staying where he is. His bikes perhaps do not have much mystique to the uninitiated, but loads of 'mojo'!