GIOS Torino - 1987

This gorgeous 1987 GIOS Torino Super Record is a stunning example of Italian craftmanship and Japanese innovation. 

The bike was created at a time when there was a big shift underway in frame materials and components. And it represents the final stages of European handcrafted racing frames before much of the world started to shift production to Asia.

Gios has a proud and illustrious heritage. In 1958 an 18-year-old Alfredo Gios started working in the family business, which had been founded ten years before by his father Tolmino.  Tolmino had been a top professional cyclist of the 1930s and had competed in the Italian National Team at the Berlin Olympic Games in 1936.

At first the company started selling city bikes, and sales grew steadily. As he took on more responsibility in the family business, Alfredo started to see an opportunity in the racing segment and the company invested in new models.

In November 1971 Alfredo met Giorgio Perfetti at the Milan bike show. Perfetti was owner of the chewing gum brand “Brooklyn” that was created by his candy company after World War II when American GIs introduced locals to chewing gum.

The “Brooklyn” name, American flag inspired graphics, and Brooklyn Bridge logo were meant to give the gum an American image. Product sales were booming and Perfetti decided to run a promotional raffle to offer customers the chance of winning one of the new “Easy Rider” models created by GIOS. He ordered 100 bikes.

Alfredo looked for a special colour which fitted perfectly with the “stars & stripes”, design of the Brooklyn logo. After some tests, he created the GIOS blue colour, with a brilliant, electric, eye-catching and surrealist tone.  

In the following years the colour became synonymous with the GIOS brand. Alfredo Gios once remarked: “Like Henry Ford, I will sell you a bicycle in any colour you like. As long as it’s blue.”   GIOS blue is still used on all of the company’s frames to this day.

The promotional partnership with GIOS led to the sponsorship of the Brooklyn Pro Cycling Team that targeted the one-day classics. The team’s line-up featured riders such as Roger De Vlaeminck, who won Paris–Roubaix four times.

The bicycle that we have in our collection is fitted with beautiful Suntour Superbe Pro Componentry. Nobuo Ozaki, the head of product development at Suntour’s parent company Maeda, invented the slant parallelogram rear derailleur in 1964 and obtained worldwide patents on the design.

For the next 20 years, Suntour produced technically superior derailleurs. Suntour’s slant parallelogram broke the image of Japanese components as being cheap copies of European designs.

Suntour’s Superbe Pro competition components were amongst the very best bicycle components of the 1980s. Their simple and elegant styling, outstanding quality in materials and finish, extremely precise design and manufacturing tolerances assured optimum performance and looks for any custom frame.

But its derailleur patents expired in 1984 and in 1985 the company’s Japanese rival Shimano introduced indexed SIS shifting. Sun Tour underestimated the need for a competing product and postponed development of an indexed system until 1986, by which point Shimano had already gained significant market share.

In 1990, Shimano then introduced their STI shifting levers for road bicycles, which completely integrated the brake lever and shifter. This system helped Shimano take the lead in groupset manufacturing. Sun Tour stopped producing components in March of 1995. The name was bought by SR, but the component designs did not survive.

Today the GIOS Torino company is much smaller that it was in its heyday, but still proudly independent. The firm specialises in made to measure steel and aluminium bicycle frames and is led today by Alfredo’s son Luca Tolmino Gios.

It is one of the few iconic Italian bicycle brands to remain in the hands of the founding family. We have more than ten different GIOS models in our Flandrien Hotel collection, covering a quarter of a century of production from 1987-2012.

Taken together this beautiful blue GIOS Torino bicycle with Suntour groupset represent a lesson in industry dynamics. Even leading firms can quickly fall behind if they do not stay ahead of the curve in terms of investment in innovation, production technologies and new materials.