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November 29, 2010

Back in the 1970s, it seemed that nearly every Italian cycle manufacturer went mad for drilling and reaming out extra material from their frames and parts. Every single piece of metal on their bikes ended up with the companies name engraved on it, painted with complementary colours. It seems that Viner were no exception. The art of pantographing (the name given to the technique and machinery that enabled companies to engrave their logos and names accurately) was at it’s zenith in the 70s and early 80s. Coupled with lot’s of chrome and the drilling of componentry, this look really epitomises this era. The pantographing was more than likely done for vanity reasons. The drilling was more rational – called ‘drillium’ it was done to ‘shave’ weight off the bike. More than likely started by Eddy Merckx, the technique was taken to the extreme by UK time triallists. None more so than the legendary Alf Engers. He drilled the parts himself, which looked beautiful but did look like they would snap at the nearest hint of a breeze! (check the image below and his drilled brakeset and levers!)

You might think this pictured Viner is pretty special. Let me tell you, this is a bit of a shy one compared to some examples out there. Check out Ray Dobbins website. He specialises in renovating old Italian bikes, and has become a bit of a guru when it comes to pantographing and drilling. Some bikes on his site are works of art, and shouldn’t really be ridden.

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