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Not far from the titanium-clad Guggenheim Museum, Aimar Fraga Angoitia has built steel frames with his own hands since 2009. Aimar not only executes every step of the design and building process himself, but also test rides his own creations on the hilly backroads outside of Bilbao.
A pure road racer without compromises, the TIG-welded frame is made of a mix of Columbus Life/Spirit/SL oversized steel tubes and a semi-integrated Reynolds 531 headtube for maximum performance and precise steering. Slightly longer chainstays ensure added tyre clearance and comfort.
What inspired you to build? What does the craft and the material you are using mean to you? Is it a job, a passion, an attitude?
I just wanted to bring to existence the many dream bikes I thought of and couldn’t find out there. Doing all the process manually does not only mean you get into a deeper relationship with the material and the entire process, but it also feels quite rewarding how human skill can be as accurate as machinery, we're still quite a competitive machine. To me, it's a passion with an attitude, which becomes a job.
How do you make a bike? What’s important to you in the process and what is it that sets you apart from other builders?
I like to do the whole process by hand, just a saw, files and sandpaper to get everything ready for the TIG welding. It's almost an obsessive experience, turning every bicycle into a new opportunity to get closer to that unachievable perfection you endlessly are chasing for. What does make an Amaro different to others? In general, a bicycle is a vehicle that will carry someone out there in the real world, and all builders should offer the same thing: a reliable and sound handling vehicle. But, once this principle is common, every builder has a different approach to it. In my case, I do not build any kind of bike a customer wants, I do build my very personal perspective of what a bike should be. Of course it might not be everybody's cup of tea, but being so many framebuilders out there, everyone should be able to find the one that suits him better. We're speaking about such a personal process, it's difficult to lose connection with it and create something you don't agree with.
What does the Rapha Continental mean to you and to the bike you've built for us?
Knowing how hard Rapha riders like to ride, I would not have considered any other option than building a pure road machine, without any compromises. Even if Continental rides go through some tough roads, I do not like the idea of modifying the purity of a road bike with disc brakes, particular geometries or off road tyres. To me, the real soul of the Rapha Continental is to ride fast and hard, on a road bike, to the very limits, no matter how steep the hill, how long the ride, how bad the road or how physically destroyed you end up that day.
Tell us about your favourite bike ride.
Too many… autumn/spring weather, fully long-sleeved in a gilet and a rain jacket in the back pocket, experiencing a few random showers during a long-distance ride through lost backroads, traversing forests and climbing countless hills.
But more than anything else, it's about a state of mind, the full-legs feeling which keeps you in a round pedal trance for hours, culminating with a climb up Spandelles. Followed by a fast descent, search for double Pizza Forge and several deserts…maybe I am just riding for the food afterwards?
In our journey to explore the Hidden Europe, where do you think we should go and ride and why?
Well, Spain is incredibly good for that, and I can't think of a better place than my homeland in the north, where infinite back roads link so many climbs that not only your legs blow out but also your eyes will feel sore after the beautiful scenery along the way….not even talking about the food! Just in case this sounds like a too obvious choice, I would probably say Portugal and Slovakia, as they're truly hidden treasures.
What would you do, if you weren’t building bikes?
Eating some chocolate palmiers…
For more information visit: www.amarobikes.com