For some of you, bicycles may be no more than a child’s pastime. Others may find them annoying velocipedes hogging the side of the road (which was made for cars, right?). Most cities in North America have been developed around the automobile: the long highways, the absence of bike paths in most urban centers and the animosity towards cyclists in general, are just a few clues. In Europe, however, the bicycle has been a means of transportation for some commoners well before the horse and carriage. It has played a significant role in both World Wars, in unifying countries, and in expanding economies. It is still used today by European postal workers, bakers, carpenters, priests, fisherman and thousands of adolescents. A bicycle’s attributes are endless.
The fellows at Kuota also have endless attributes. They are bicycle manufactures, pioneers in Italian design, and supporters of local charities all at the same time.
Kuota has humble beginnings as a bicycle fork company, specializing in steel and aluminum forks. They equipped most bicycle frames in the ’80s and ’90s with high-quality metal forks. As carbon fiber became a more popular material, they were the first company to specialize in carbon bicycle forks and again supplied them to all of the major bicycle brands. As Kuota began to watch bicycle frames switch from metal to carbon fiber in the ’90s, they began producing full carbon fiber frames. In 2001, Kuota bicycles (from the Italian “quota” – meaning “attaining new heights”) was born. Today, they supply the bikes for the professional racing team AG2R and in 2008 and 2009 they sponsored Agritubel. They’ve raced under Christophe Moreau and Cyril Dessel in the great bicycle races, rolled to victory with Norman Stadler’s Ironman conquests, and they are getting increased recognition and praise from the biking community in a number of product reviews such as this one from Bike Radar. It is for Kuota’s excellent craftsmanship, design and accomplishments that Pomegranate Journeys has decided to equip each of its European departures with Kuota’s Carbon-framed bicycles.
Much of Kuota’s recognition comes from the innovative design of these bicycles. They were the first to design the aerodynamic oversized carbon fiber tubing. As a result, most vibrations and wobbling is eliminated at high speeds. As Bike Radar points out in the above review of the KOM, the fork is constructed out of oversized tubes, and thus the front is exceptionally sturdy and solid in the turns. The boys in the Kuota engineering studio create each year’s model with an Italian designer’s eye. Rather than read the geometry sketches, they prefer to have the first prototype on hand to “see” what the final product looks like. Although they are interested in functionality, it is the beauty of the final product that they are most focused on. If they are not pleased with the final design, they start all over. Needless to say, Kuota bikes are chic, Italian design married to stylish efficiency.
But Kuota doesn’t stop at simply making a better bike, they also aim to make a better cyclist. They sponsor the Fabio Casartelli Medio Fondo (an amateur bike race) in honor of the late cyclist (and Lance’s domestique under Motorolla). Casartelli crashed in the 1995 Tour de France on the descent from the Col d’Aspet. It was because of that accident that the UCI began to make helmets obligatory in the pro races. All proceeds from this Medio Fondo go to fund bicycle safety programs in local schools through the Fabio Casartelli Foundation: how to ride in a line, how to keep to the side of the road, and especially how to properly wear a helmet. Kuota makes an impressive product, but they are also actively involved in bettering cycling for their local communities. By teaching the young proper cycling techniques, these young riders will have more concern for other vehicles on the road and incorporate safety into every ride. Then these kids will eventually grow into adults. Adults who will eventually get behind the wheel of a car and have a lot more respect for the kids – or anyone – cycling along the side of the road.