Giuseppe “Pino” Morroni died February 11, 1999. “Who is Pino Morroni?”, you may ask. He was probably the most well-known, yet never heard about, person in the cycling community. Eddy Merckx knew him, so did Greg LeMond and Andrew Hampsten. Francesco Moser, Felice Gimondi and Gianni Bugno knew him as well. They knew him because his inventions and ideas helped carry all of them to their greatest victories.
Why did Pino Morroni suddenly come back to my attention? Well, it’s because Tandem@Hobbes contributor Dave Porter of Porter Custom Bicycles in Albuquerque, New Mexico thought readers might be interested in knowing a bit more about Pino, noting Dave came into possession of Pino Morroni’s two tandem jigs a number of years ago.
If you followed the link to Cycling Utah’s April ’99 article above, you should have learned a little bit more about Pino, I say a little because even the more detailed articles can’t capture the extent of his impact on cycling technology, as many of his inventions aren’t necessarily attributed to him. Sadly, Pino never had the resources or inclination to secure the patents needed to protect his intellectual property.
A far-more detailed article on Pino Morroni was written by Russell Howe entitled, Cycling’s Mad Scientist and published at the Bicycle Trader back in the 1990’s. Out of respect for Russell Howe’s copyrights and those of the Bicycle Trader I’ll refrain from doing an extensive re-quote of the article and, instead, suggest interested readers go to the site where I found the quoted article posted by a contributor to the Chained Revolution forums: Pino Morroni articles from the web. Note that the aforementioned article from Cycling Utah is also included.
It’s also noteworthy that Russell Howe apparently drew on the relationship he developed with Pino when researching the Cycling’s Mad Scientist as well as some of the material when he wrote an obituary for Pino after his passing in February 1999 that you can find HERE.
Classic Rendezvous also has a page dedicated to Pino Morroni that includes several interesting photos of Pino and some of his inventions. A photo of Pino at a velodrome watching a world champion team conducting trials on one of Pino’s prototype track tandems was included in the photos that appears below. Be sure to read the recollections of David Patrick linked off of the CR Web page as well.
Dave recently used one of the jigs for a recent tandem project that he chronicled at his own Blog, which you can find HERE. Dave’s blog is an interesting read with many photos to illustrate the build process and show the flexibility of Pino’s jig design. Dave’s tandem design is equally interesting and, by most standards, unconventional… which was true for many of Pino’s component and frame designs.
Getting back to the jigs, I asked Dave how he came to know Pino and, more specifically, to own several of his jig. Dave shared the following with me back on Memorial Day:
Pino and I became friends in the 80’s when I was helping John Frey attempt the world amateur Hour record, which we briefly held. Pino you may recall made the titanium bits for Eddy Merckx’s Hour bike.
Pino gave me his personal single jig in the 80’s as he thought the one I had was of poor design. After Pino passed I contacted his wife, Janet, and purchased the remaining jigs that were in his garage. The tandem jig is really pretty neat, as it’s a beam style jig as opposed to plate style. It can be used for single frames or tandems. Though they are old they still allow me to use round, OS, or multi-shape tubes to build frames. I just thought they were a testament to Pino’s genius that was never recognized during his life.
Dave also wrote a blog entry entitled “Using a Pino Morroni Frame Jig” that included another extensive photo gallery along with his narrative that describes the use of the single-bike jig Pino gave to Dave back in the 1980’s on a recent single bike project that illustrates many of the features unique to the Morroni jig design.