Bike of the Week

Nov. 7, 2010,

Photos by Ira Block.

Ready to slobber a little? We didn’t see this one at Interbike. No, it was at a short stop at “Gucci” bike shop (as it is affectionately called by a dear, anonymous friend) Strictly Bicycles in Fort Lee, NJ yesterday.

Gorgeous bicycle frames adorn the walls and the stairway in this high end destination shop that now serves as a must stop off for cyclists traveling to and from New York City to Nyack, NY and other points north.

If not to gawk at the bikes arranged like large jewels on the walls–(though many of them cost much more than jewels, some as high as $10,000 for a fully built Pinarello Dogma), then perhaps to sip some of the cappuccino from behind the counter where co-owner Joanna Gutierrez was talking to customers.

Spotted inside the shop, leaning up against the back of the cash register was a Serotta bicycle painted in shades of merlot red, a slim band of calamine pink, and finished off with a pearlescent off-white.

As a fancy blue, white and red Pinarello frame ambled by, cradled in owner Nelson Gutierrez’s hands, my eyes shot back to the Serotta serenely standing there.

What a gorgeous bike gushed my friend. We marveled over the luminescence of the wine red and pearl white paints and how they contrasted with the flat pink which resembled the finest pink color to be found in and out of nature–even though it was paint. Then the owner of the bike popped up behind us, Len Battifarano, to explain the unusual paint job.

No the bike was not for sale, he explained, and he did not even buy it in Gutierrez’s shop, though he was a good customer there.

Battifarano (Batty-far-Ano) had the bike made for him in honor of his mother who died of breast cancer at the young age of 63.  He picked up the finished frame from the Serotta factory in Saratoga Springs, NY. (Mental note to self–must schedule a visit there.)

He said he has often been teased about the color of the bike, which is made of lugged titanium and carbon, and has matching pink metallic parts that coordinate wonderfully with the off-beat, old-school Italian paint job.

One day a man rolled up to him and asked him, “Are you gay?” Battifarano replied, no, why do you ask? The man replied, “Because you are riding a pink bike.” Battifarano said he explained to the unsuspecting rider that no, the bike was painted in honor of his mother who died of breast cancer.

The rider was mortified and apologized profusely, though he was not offended by the comment said Battifarano (though he admits he is not gay–not that it matters, he said).

Battifarano is the CEO at Brokers Link and previous president at American International Insurers, a division of of AIG. He has worked in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Kuwait.

Though pink is more often associated with the female sex, as any Italia-phile will tell you, the Maglia Rosa is the winner’s jersey in the Giro D’Italia, and so the color of the winner is pink–a gorgeous color for any person, regardless of their choice of partner.

This year the winner of the Giro was Ivan Basso, and he proudly wore his pink winner’s jersey as he kissed his trophy.

To prove our point, we just found a few uses of pink in cycling that we could point out to you dear reader.

If anything Battifarano’s story should be a cyclo-specific revision of the old “don’t ask don’t tell” version of existence. So often the prisoners of our own clique-based conformism, we should have realized by now that innovation is the entry door to expansion.

And no matter what color or preference, a beautiful bike is like a beautiful person. In this industry, letting creativity flow is the key to inspiration, change, and lack of pretension, which we could certainly  use a lot more of.

Here are a few examples of pink:

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