Dei Umberto

The following is from an Umberto Dei advertisement:

“Umberto Dei was already an apprentice mechanic when he started his career as a bicycle manufacturer in 1896, but unfortunately for his financial means, which were limited, he had to settle with limiting himself to building frames for local merchants and racing bikes for his friends and companions who would cover in advance the cost of the tubing and building materials and with which they would then hold fun races between companions.”
“It was in 1897 that Umberto Dei who had trained [water stain] was selected by the UVI and sent to Paris along with three other of the best Italians to take part in a race with the most well-known French racers of the time. The Italians won the competition and Umberto contributed very effectively to the win, placing second behind the Italian Minozzi, then Italian Champion.”
“Dei recalls with great pleasure that he used a self-made bicycle on that occasion and that his teammates held that the bike was smoother because he had had the foresight to lighten and make the rims narrower (at the time wood rims were used.)”
“From that year, Umberto Dei became the banner holder of mechanical means and the constant ascent of his products started, notwithstanding that his financial means were still quite limited, but nonetheless the best professionals (already paid by the other makers) began to turn themselves to him for the construction of their special bikes, with the same happening with many foreign racers.”
“He was the first to make bikes with 68 cm diameter wheels, hence the same diameter of tubulars, tending to be lighter, using parts that other manufacturers only used for racing bikes, in such a way that his bikes that would initially be for racing but with a simple switch of the rims/tires could be transformed into touring/roadsters.”
“Later at the ANCMA (Milan bicycle trade fair), from 1929, Dei would display his bikes hanging from scales, showing that they were sensibly lighter than more common bikes and with signs with descriptions of the lightweight alloys required and other minimal weight saving measures that permitted to reduce the weight of other parts without prejudicing the solidity and durability of the bike.”
“With these new types, he reached a sensibly improved smoothness, not only because of the lighter weight but also because of close attention paid to the lightening of the wheels.”
“Umberto Dei had already given up his brilliant personal sporting ambitions in racing and his craftsmanship from Via San Vito, was developed in the new premises in Via Pasquale Paoli, 4 increasing the size of the shop floor size as they saw their biggest production period.”
“For many years, he was involved in all types of sports cycling events and had riders of all specialties on bikes with his brand winning all types of championships and classic races, on track as on the road, both in Italy and abroad. At the same time, he also frequently offered unconditional prizes and primes.”
“In the years following the great war of 1915-18, Dei took the initiative to prepare numerous models with special features for the handicapped.”
“In 1936, in the event of the Berlin Olympics, Dei had the exceptional and well-merited satisfaction of being commissioned and paid to supply the bikes for the riders of the official delegations of such foreign teams as Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, Uruguay, Peru, Romania, Bulgaria, Columbia and Turkey. This conspicuous preference was undoubted proof of the recognized superiority of the Dei products in that his bikes then cost considerably more than those of competitors.”
“From 1923, a company of former glories of Italian Cycling elected him to be the President of the Unione Veterani Ciclisti Italiani [Union of Italian Veteran Cyclists], this same organization later consistently recognized the Italian cyclists who have been able to distinguish themselves abroad, in 1951, assigning 4 gold medals to the 4 Italians who won World Championships titles.
“The Veteran’s Union is headquartered in the retirement home of Umberto Dei, where the relics of the first period of Italian cycle sport are cared for with loving and devoted care.”
“Umberto Dei was the promoter of the “Costamagna” prize, once director of the “Gazzetta dello Sport”, later founder of the “Premio Romolo Bruni” and then of the “Premio G.F. Tommaselli.”
In the sad year 1943, Umberto Dei had both his complete production facility and most of his home destroyed by a war bombardment, and was forced to interrupt his production.”
“However, no matter how drastically the largest part of his fortune had been destroyed, and notwithstanding his already advanced age, he was able to react and after only a few years to reestablish himself in the new premises of Via San Vincenzo where he has quickly returned his brand to highest consideration. “