We met Giuseppe Drali in his workshop in Milan, in the Naviglio Pavese area – he is "the bike magician".
Beppino, DOC Milanese born in 1928, welcomes us with his extraordinary charm and openness, together with his wife Marisa.
He tells us that he started out in the 1930s with his father, also a famous frame-maker in the racing bike department of Bianchi bicycles, and the one who made the frames used by Costante Girardengo and then by the legendary Coppi. Bianchi is a legendary name that is linked to the exploits of the great champions of the past as well as today, and the skill of the Dralis, father and son, has definitely contributed to this.
Beppino was only 9 years old when he started out as an assistant in the workshop, gradually learning the secrets of the trade from his father Carlo.
"Today everyone wants carbon fibre, because it’s lighter … technology moves forward, arriving at incredible levels, but it has lost the great art of brazing"
"For me a bicycle is like a painting… Every detail has to be attended to and refined and nothing can substitute the hand if you want something that is truly beautiful and unique"
Drali frames are unattainable masterpieces of technical perfection and lightness: the master creates them as they are assembled – filing and soldering everything by hand.
Beppino now allows himself the luxury of making a few pieces per year – not more than a dozen, so enthusiasts are always lined up at the door to his shop, and patiently wait months for their Drali.
"Today everyone wants carbon fibre, because it’s lighter… technology moves forward, arriving at incredible levels, but it has lost the great art of brazing. For me a bicycle is like a painting … Every detail has to be attended to and refined and nothing can substitute the hand if you want something that is truly beautiful and unique".
This extraordinary craftsman leaves us with a short anecdote on something that happened a few days prior to our interview. Having gone out around evening time, he stopped for a while to rest at the exit of a tavern.
Two young customers looked at his bicycle admiringly…
They were enthralled, and called the owner of the tavern to have show it to him. He knew the name Drali well: "But boys, this is a Drali, my father even had two, when I was young, it was the tops… The old Drali worked with his son, Beppino, who then carried on the business… But do you know if Drali’s son is still alive?". And Beppino answered: "Yes, yes, he’s still alive!…
and he got on the seat and rode off, laughing to himself, ready for the good risotto with "luganega" sausage that Marisa had promised for the evening meal: his favourite dish!