PINO MORRONI: A RECOLLECTION
I knew Pino fairly well, as my older brother raced bikes in the late 60’s/early 70’s and was a very good friend of Pino’s. In fact, when I was in jr. high school I use to tag along with Pino and my brother to bike races in Pino’s old green Fiat. I wasn’t a bike racer at the time, but I use to love to listen to Pino, as he was such an animated character, always waving his arms and talking in his heavy Italian accent. He was right and everyone else was wrong. In fact, most conversations with Pino were like a test, with Pino constantly asking the other party questions. If you didn’t give the answer Pino wanted to hear, you were then usually dressed down with a bit of profanity and then corrected, with every expectation that you would remember this information for a future test date.
Now, a few items. Pino built frames in the 1970’s that have the “Pino” name on them, usually the typical white sticker with the Pino name in a black block lettered outline. These stickers were quite frequently on the down tube and the top tube, as well as the fork blades. These frames also have the three green mice on them somewhere, which was Pino’s trademark. By the mid 1970’s Pino was in collaboration with Cecil Behringer, working on developing a full titanium bicycle frame. In fact, I think Pino was leaving all of the frame building to Cecil in 1978 or so, if I am not mistaken.
Pino was machining the titanium and Cecil brazed the titanium (yes, brazed) into the frameset. These usually carried the “Pi-Behr” or “Pino-Behr” name and are VERY rare (I only know of two that exist).
Now on to the Telavio: yes, Pino built these frames and they do indeed date to the mid-1980’s for the most part. The holes you are talking are indeed intended as frame stiffeners, as there are small internal tubes, or a channel, going entirely through the tube. These were placed at areas that Pino felt were susceptible to flex. These frames are indeed a bit of a rare item. There are a few scattered around here in Michigan (maybe 4-5). Pino did return to Italy for a time in the late 1980’s and he did build some Telavio steel frames there, but I sincerely doubt if any of these have found their way back “across the pond”. In fact, during this time period, Pino was employed by the Italian Cycling Federation, so these frames may very well still be in the federation’s hands. Also of note, a lot of the Telavio frames were finished in yellow.
Later on in the 1990’s, Pino built some steel frames that just had a small “Pino” sticker on the down tube, which included the three green mice. These were cosmetically very bare, but featured Pino’s latest ideas that he was developing (reverse-rake suspension fork, one-size-fits-all frame sizing, a lot of other goodies).
I think I’m rambling on, but he was such a character and I miss him. A few items of note: his last name is spelled Morroni. Also, the CR page has his year of death listed as 2000. This is wrong. Pino entered the hospital in early 1999 to have surgery and caught pneumonia while in the hospital, which led to his death a few weeks later. (Date corrected, Ed.) The last time I was at his house was the day before he went into the hospital for this surgery. He has just gotten back from Italy and had given me a handful of Mercatone-Uno clothes the he had been given by the team while in Italy. I offered to pay him something for these items, but he refused.