Last night we treated you to a bike with a twist, tonight it’s a bike with a hole – the Casati Marte HT. Like the Carrera Phibra the Marte was a bike that I used to make a point of seeking out at bike shows - after all who doesn’t like a bike with a hole in the top tube (that's a rhetorical question).
Tonight’s encounter with the Marte HT takes us to Milan Bike Show in 2009. Now that was a show! Not just bicycles but motorbikes too - by the time of our visit the bike bit is down to one hall (but what a hall) and the rest is motorbikes. The next year the bike bit was basically down to one stand (okay it was a big stand - the Shimano stand) but the organisers cunningly lured myself, Vecchiojo and our then head of… er, getting in to scrapes, TR McGowran by sending out a press release saying that 100 of Italy’s top bike brands would be showing their bikes at the show. They didn’t mention it would be one of each on all the way round the Shimano stand. You live and learn. But I digress…
Truth be told that at one point during the mid-noughties almost every bike on the Casati stand had an extra hole in - well, every carbon bike anyway. I couldn’t truthfully tell you if they were all Martes, my feeling is they weren’t. By this point in 2009 it was pretty much the Marte HT and though the number of holey bikes had diminished - to my eye at least the hole itself* had definitely increased in size - teardrop in shape and a few (reassuring) centimetres in from the top tube’s junction with the seat tube.
Okay, okay you want to know what the hole is for. Picture a man shrugging - I’m sure if the Casatis (this was and is a small family business) had a hot marketeer on the team he/she’d have come up with something semi plausible involving the old vertical compliance schtick. I never saw any bold claims – mind you I don’t speak (or read) Italian. Instead I’d like to think it was done simply because they could - a demonstration of their skill as frame builders (Casati have been making frames since 1920 and still are**) and the fact that they knew enough about the material they were working with to stick a conversation piece hole in it confident that it wouldn’t kill, maim or injure whoever bought it.
Oh, one other reason I’m fairly confident the hole did nothing, this is the bike industry if anyone who knew more than me about how frames work thought it actually bestowed a performance benefit (especially a marketable one) they’d have ripped it off/licensed it or in some way paid homage by making a hole and filling it with silicon… oh, hang on.
*Those two hole pics are a couple of years apart
** We featured their Steel Espresso RS in 2016, if the Casati website is any indication they don't seem to make any bikes with extra holes though I'm sure if you asked nicely…
Plucked from the obscurity of his London commute back in the mid-Nineties to live in Bath and edit bike mags our man made the jump to the interweb back in 2006 as launch editor of a large cycling website somewhat confusingly named after a piece of navigational equipment. He came up with the idea for road.cc mainly to avoid being told what to do… Oh dear, issues there then. Tony tries to ride his bike every day and if he doesn't he gets grumpy, he likes carbon, but owns steel, and wants titanium. When not on his bike or eating cake Tony spends his time looking for new ways to annoy the road.cc team. He's remarkably good at it.