Licinio Marastoni passed away on Dec 11, 2015 REPORT

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Updated 12.22.2015

Licinio Marastoni was born in Reggio Emilia in 1922, the third son of a reasonably successful amateur racer, Flaminio Marastoni. He was originally destined to become a priest as he did quite well at school and a well-to-do local woman had promised to support him through his religious studies. Licinio however had other ideas as he had been affected by the cycling bug. He was both a rider and super interested in the whole technology of bikes. As was the norm for the somewhat less privileged at the time, he therefore left school at age 11 and started an apprenticeship in 1933 with a local Reggiano framebuilder, by the name of Mattioli. It must be understood that at the time, an apprenticeship was not a paid job, but rather an opportunity to learn a trade, that often could only be had by paying the tradesman a fee. In Marastoni’s case, his desire to learn was so strong that Mattioli did not ask to be paid to teach him the trade.

He was a quick learner and a very hard worker, in fact so good that by 1939, at age 17, he was already building frames that carried his name. Unfortunately, after only a few years, the war intervened and he had to interrupt his career as a framebuilder for a short period until 1949, when he joined up with another older framebuilder Ferdinando Grasselli (Marastoni did not have the financial wherewithal to fund production on his own) and founded the company: Grasselli – Cicli Marastoni. Grasselli supplied the money and tooling and Marastoni the labor. In 1950, Licinio’s only child Marco was born. The Grasselli/Marastoni partnership was reasonably successful and continued until 1960 when Grasselli retired, after which Marastoni was more or less on his own. In 1969, Marastoni was to get to know a fellow who was producing light propane gas fixtures using the then reasonably new microfusion technology. Marastoni asked whether it would be possible to produce fork crowns and BB shells using the same technology. The fellow said that he would be willing to give it a try if Marastoni would fund the work, which was very expensive at the time. As it is an industrial process, he had to immediately ensure a minimum production quantity.

Marastoni bottom bracket shell and frame building tools

This production was made in 1970. In 1971 during a visit to Reggio Emilia, Cino Cinelli stopped by and commented on the beauty of the fork crowns that Marastoni was using. After an exchange of information about the production method, Cino suggested that Marastoni bring them to the Milan show in the fall of 1972. He could then show them around to select people, following up with a patent once they were accepted. Cinelli then directed Marastoni to Microfusione Italiana in Brescia for industrial production. The frame bits that were presented were well-liked and discussions for a larger scale production were already quite advanced when disaster struck shortly after the presentation in 1972.

His only child, Marco Marastoni, was in fact killed in a car accident while on his way to work in Parma. Licinio was devastated and completely lost interest in the IC frame bits and even stopped building bikes for a while. This was the lowest point of his life. He only decided to return by popular request after a hiatus of about one year. To honor his lost son, he then began to: a) decal his better frames as Marco Marastoni (and then only if he knew they were going to somebody who would respect the bike!), b) sponsor a rather important local race (the Marco Marastoni Memorial race was run from 1973 until 1996) and c) changed the name of the local bicycle club that he sponsors to “Club Marco Marastoni”.

His annual production was never all that large, but given that he produced frames for more than 60 years, there are quite a few of his bikes out there. He built his last frames in the late 90’s. His frames show great care and many show unusual flourishes not usually found on the frames of other builders. Beyond perhaps the first use of IC frame parts, he was indeed one of the first to use almost exclusively braze-on front derailleurs in the first half of the 70’s. He made a variety of different braze-on versions. He was also one of the first to braze on the centerbolts for brake calipers, as well as braze top tube cable guides and water bottle bolts (in the beginning he simply brazed on a bolt onto the down tube.

Marastoni bottom bracket shell and frame building tools

He built frames for a number of pros, including a time trial frame carrying Bianchi decals for Coppi, and a number of frames for Moser, including one used for one of Giro victories. He continued to race himself well into his 50’s. Today at the age of 87 (in 2009), he still rides (one of the last bike he built in the late 1990’s) and continues to support the riders of the Marco Marastoni club and will often be found to be building up and servicing bikes for club members (all free of charge). Another tidbit that was quite interesting is that when he stopped building frames on a regular basis, he passed his framebuilding equipment on to the Gozzi brothers of Rauler fame.

Steven Maasland 5.2009

1953 Bicycle

Licinio Marastoni with a circa late 1950s

courtesy Mr. Stefano Sandoli

Late 1970s bike

Two examples of late 1970s/early 1980s frames

Licinio in front of club showcase which includes his son's bike

Beautiful early 1980s bike