“Four Generations in the Forefront of Cycling Technology” is what the homepage of this eminent specialized motorbike and bicycle manufacturer announces, and not without good reason. Ancillotti thrives on one simple philosophy – that no specialized equipment can come out of an assembly line, where the main considerations are cost and time reduction. And hence, he believes, to create a nice product, one has to invest a lot in Research and Development and produce in limited numbers, a highly specialized product.
Since 1965, this manufacturer from Florence, has been producing 49cc and 125cc motocross machines which are renowned all over the world. Ancillotti, unlike many other bike manufacturers who come out with their new models only in autumn, make frequent changes to their models through minor changes in design from one model to the next. Such innovation and pro-active designing, has put the company on the world map as far as the specialized biking is concerned.
Way back in the 19th century, Ernesto Ancillotti, by way of his enterprising nature, became founded the first motorized forms of transport in Florence. It is notable that he was earlier a driver in a horse drawn form of public transport. He was lucky in that his son, Gualtiero, became interested in this venture, and in fact, started taking a deep interest in all kinds of motorcycles. After World War II, he opened a workshop in Florence and in the middle of the twentieth century, he innovated a particular type of suspended frame for the Harley Davidsons used in the army at that time. This innovation was also patented by him. If not for this invention, these motorcycles would have had to wait till 1958 to benefit from a later innovation from the United States of America.
Gualtiero’s had a wide vision and he was open to all designs and models of automobiles. Even when the American Go-Kart entered Florence, he embraced it and designed several kinds of frames for this vehicle, and in fact, also conceived a unique transmission system for it.
It was in the late 1960s that the first wave of popularity for off road motorcycles began and the Ancillotti were ready with their 50cc and 60cc models. Many magazines tried out these new bikes and published good reviews about them. That coupled with the presentation skills of Alberto and most importantly, the many race victories, helped the Ancillotti receive numerous orders for the Scarab. This name is derived from the open-winged design of the Scarab that is present in the logo.
The scarab became such a rage that the yellow color of these bikes used to be the favorite of all high school children of Italy in that period. And the 125cc Ancillotti became the most popular in its class. The motorcycles were so powerful that in the Italian championships held in 1971, all the three top positions were taken by bikers riding Ancillottis. As the Ancillotti grew steadily, its manufacturing base was shifted to a larger area.
In 1973, the founder and father of Alberto, Gualtiero, died and the management of the company is being taken care of since, by Alberto and his brother Piero.
Though the production in the 1970s was about 3000 motorcycles per year, the arrival of the massive Japanese firms spelt temporary doom for the Ancillotti as it did for many small Italian production firms as well. In fact Ancillotti’s new factory had to be closed in the mid 1980s.
Ancillotti had invented and patented many unique ideas, some of which are even till today, existent in the world. The Rear Swing Arm rotating on silent block, Pull shock suspension system, Head set with conic roller bearings, and the Pro Drive brake system are some of the patents of the Ancillotti over the years.
There is an association called “Registro Storico Ancillotti Scarab” which is the only formal organization that carries the tradition of the Ancillotti. Many owners of the legendary bikes with the Scarab are members of this popular association which plays an important role in keeping alive the magic of the Scarabs. It not only keeps track of all the Scarabs present in the world, but also does such value adding work like restoration of the bikes still present. There are events like the European and the Italian revival championships in which the association participates and it also organizes an annual meeting in which most of the members gather and discuss future plans and appraise the work done so far.
Alberto Ancillotti’s son Tomaso adamantly wanted a fully suspended bike. Alberto, not able to resist, set to work on projecting a shock absorbing frame which would fulfill the requirement of his son. Helped by his friend, his ideas lead to the model of the frame for the DH, which became a hit. Alberto was father of the concept of Pull-Shock and that inspired him further to advance the concept of the evoluted bicycle. In one of the first international races held at Ciocco, in 1991, most of the riders were riding on rigid suspensions and this sight confirmed Alberto’s belief that the time for his model of suspension had indeed come. Therefore was born the frame that mounts naturally on the rear swing arm, a linkage suspension of the Pull-Shock type.
The very first frame was unveiled at a fair at Cologne in 1992. The model that Alberto had proposed at that fair 15 years ago– a frame with an anterior and posterior progressive linkage system, served by oil spring Decarbon type shocks, and a 90mm swing arm with active pivot point – had all features of the current day bicycle. Though people took time to digest this monster of a design, the acceptance came slowly.
This version of the bike became very popular for Downhill races and instantly won the World Championships in 1993. Keeping in line with the tradition of the family, Ernesto Ancillotti’s grandson and Alberto’s son Tomaso, has begun doing his first jumps and considering the enthusiasm of this future CEO of Ancillotti Motor and Cycles co, it is not difficult to see that he too will carry on with developing the engineering of these wonderful machines, as had been done for so many years by his father and his grandfather.