How are the best wheels on the market born? What's behind a lifestyle choice? This is the story of Frasen Works and, of course, its two hours
The corridor is spacious but the light struggles to find space. The workshop, on the other hand, has two large windows from which a blinding and very hot sun enters even if it is still in the middle of winter. On the other hand, the Mediterranean at these latitudes can be truly welcoming from all points of view, not least the climatic one. And it is precisely this warmth that conveys a sense of tranquility that is rare to find in a place where iconographically we would expect an acrid smell, deafening noise and disorder everywhere.
We understood immediately that something was not right, ever since we were invited to the fourth floor of a mid-1990s building on Rambla del Poblenou, a few hundred meters from the Olympic port of Barcelona, the headquarters of Frasen Works: where some of the best wheels known to the cycling market are assembled. Often you don't choose the nickname, but it's something that friends give you without even a reason. Sometimes a physical or behavioral characteristic is emphasized, other times the place of origin is leveraged, still others a surname is simply truncated to be faster when it's time to call you or talk about yourself. The only thing that is really needed for a nickname is to have someone give it to you. In this case the merit is of the crew , of that close group of friends with whom you share a passion and an identity that you don't find either in your family or at school: thus Davide Frassine becomes Frasen and Frasen Works becomes a brand.
«I've always been interested in what are called le subcultures. At the beginning there was only skateboarding for me and that's why I decided to move here: sidewalks, stairways, a beautiful seafront, everything was "skateable", in short, a paradise. From there, some of us were attracted to the world of fixed gear, one of the other most influential subcultures of recent years, which saw Barcelona play the role of symbolic city together with Milan, London and New York. Finally there was the inevitable transition to standard cycling, albeit with a different style, where performance isn't everything, on the contrary. The strong point is aggregation: we meet again, two hours on the bike, a couple of beers, a few laughs and off we go.»
Basically those who get overwhelmed by subcultures can be defined as a nerd but in the good sense of the term, of course. Yes, because that new vision of life enters you so much that it becomes a priority and, at that point, you start studying everything about that world that has engulfed you. Small things, technicalities, slang, in an instant you turn into a nerd. «There are those who are more passionate about the frame, those about the gearbox group, those about accessories and those, like me, about that invention that revolutionized the world thousands of years ago: the wheel». These are choices that are not made with thought but come naturally: what can be defined as talent.
So one day you make a wheel for one friend, then another, and another. They work, they are happy and you understand that this is the path taken. You don't even know exactly how, but after three years your apartment has turned into a workshop. There isn't even any more space for shopping: the whole house is occupied by hoops, spokes and every tool imaginable. And then cartons, cartons and cartons. "For this you need to have order and be disciplined, otherwise you risk that the house literally becomes a dumping ground."
Barcelona is a city that welcomes you, it hugs you. A bit like all big cities, even if it's not as big as one might imagine. «The effect, however, is that of the metropolis: after a week of living here, you feel like you are here. And if they ask you where you're from, answer right away of Barcelona!, although maybe you got there four days ago.”
«And then the cool thing about Barcelona is that you have everything», but not everything we can think of: it's not about exhibitions, museums, concerts. Or rather, yes, there is of course also that as in every large agglomeration. «I mean that you have the sea, hills and mountains not far away: if you love cycling, it is a real land of toys. Especially for those who, like me, manage to carve out two hours during the day and don't have time to travel by car or means to reach a particularly attractive hill or place from a cycling point of view. Here, you simply leave the house and head towards the hinterland: you really can find everything within a very short distance». Gravel routes, long asphalt ascents, eats and drinks on leg-breaking hills: all this within a few kilometres. «Think that if you want to train well, you can even do uphill repetitions in the city centre. Do you understand what I mean?"
But when cycling becomes your style, it's not just sport anymore. Cycling, and let's go back to the subcultures, is real life: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. So even every move in the city is done on two wheels: the preferred bike in this case is a gravel, «so you can jump up and down the sidewalks without a problem, just like skateboarding». The choice of the mtb shoe with which to walk and to wear during an aperitif with friends is then that detail that acts as a sign of recognition: I look at you and I already understood everything about you. It's exactly like when you see a metalhead, who is always a metalhead. Or one with a Harley Davidson, which is always Harley. Two hours on the bike, its two hours, and then back to the workshop and that unique warmth again. Seeing hands busy with hubs and rims of all kinds transports you to a distant era where, with manual work and concentration, each creation was a work of art.
«They are movements that take you out of time, almost as if the clock no longer existed and life was taking a break from you. The problems go away, there is no yesterday and there is no tomorrow, but neither are there five minutes before and five minutes after».
The essence of craftsmanship that we often forget to derive from art .
Fortunately it's also business, earning money, a way to bring home a loaf of bread. There are many brands that turn to Frasen Works, including Mavic and Enve of which it is the official assembler for ad hoc projects. Then there's all the bespoke, the tailor made as they say now. This is how it works: you call him, explain what your needs are, when and how you want to use the wheels, and he has them delivered to you within 6/7 days. «50% down payment and 50% upon delivery, unless you're a friend of mine. In that case 100% down payment. Because risking losing a customer is one thing, but risking losing a friend, I don't even want to consider it».