Gita Sporting Goods is among the bike industry’s best-respect distributors. They’ve been the force behind Giordana clothing, Pinarello, Eddy Merckx and Pegoretti bicycles and DMT shoes for decades. I first crossed paths with them back in 1996 when I reviewed a titanium Eddy Merckx equipped with what was the then-new Campagnolo Racing Triple. I fell in love with that bike the way you fall in love with the first good car you drive.
Because their history reaches back to the days when Merckx himself was king of the road, the place is lousy with history the way Italy is lousy with cathedrals. Gita is based in suburban Charlotte, North Carolina, and I was able to tour the offices and warehouse for the first time in a nearly 20-year relationship.
I suspect that the tour wasn’t meant to take all that long, but I didn’t move many steps at a time as we walked through.
While no one minded me taking a few extra seconds to admire something While no one minded me taking a few extra seconds to admire something like this Pegoretti …
(And really, who wouldn’t stall at a bike like this?)
the simple fact is that I was just as likely to detour by something like this World Champion jersey worn (and signed) by Gianni Bugno during the 1993 season.
This Milani with Pantographed stem and invetment-cast fork crown was but one jewel in a dazzling crown.
This little shadow box shows but a bit of the progression of the components found on Pinarello bikes over the years.
Shoes and saddles have both evolved enormously and yet retained a familiar look.
My early days in cycling were spent coveting these jerseys, perhaps none moreso than the Tour de France combination jersey as worn by Greg LeMond.
I couldn’t tell you the last time I ran across a Campagnolo Centaur group, which was essentially the Italian manufacturer’s first—and last—attempt at producing mountain bike components.
The brake levers were easily the most adjustable that the bike industry has ever, or will ever, see, but they also weighed only slightly less than a big-screen TV. I’m sure there must be people still running this stuff on remote islands because it is unlikely to ever wear out.
The display case contains artifacts from Dario Pegoretti’s shop. From alignment tools to espresso cup and ash tray, every piece came from his shop in Italy.
The frame on top may be one of my favorite examples of his paint work.
This Pinarello was built by Pegoretti before he went out on his own.
The Campagnolo freewheel tools and case. This is at once a perfect example of how Campy could turn the most mundane of cycling components into high art, as well as how the could make anything needlessly complicated.
How many of these jerseys did you covet over the years?
Gita’s warehouse spread like the floor of a Costco.
Before the Pegoretti’s duties at the show began, he spent some time in the warehouse painting. This was a work in progress.
This Lejeune dated at least to the Nixon administration.
And it’s still getting miles.
I could have spent the afternoon staring at this image of Merckx. I’ll be studying more after I finish this post.
These wool jerseys look like they were knit last week, but they are originals.
This was on the back of a Pegoretti jersey. Giordana now has some U.S. production for clothing and they stock all the component materials in their warehouse.
There are times when the tired “embarrassment of riches” completely misses the mark. There’s nothing embarrassing in a collection of this sort. It’s amazing how much Gita has preserved of their own history.
Every bike I found had something special to it.
But despite all the history, this is company devoted to some of the most advanced bikes and materials being produced.