Let’s set the record straight: Italian builder Iride Italian Bicycles didn’t enter the U.S. market ten years ago with a cute, media friendly name (as in “I ride”) to help people remember them. But if this particular mnemonic works for you, that’s ok too.
“Iride” (pronounced EAR-ee-day) is the Italian word for “iris”, and it also refers to the colors of the rainbow, the visible spectrum, so it’s even more of an appropriate name for a bicycle brand in this context. Cicli Iride was established in 1919 by Umberto Gemmati in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. Today, Umberto’s grandson Carlo holds down the fort at the House of Gemmati.
Classic handbuilt construction with Columbus Niobium SL steel tubing brazed to investment-cast lugs reflects the focus on tradition at Iride. Even the classic-but-compulsory Ferrari red paint scheme on every Iride model – an Italian version of Henry Ford’s famous “any color you want as long as it’s black” directive – sings che bello.
Iride has a racing pedigree on both the track and the road, and they offer the Nucleo road racing model, and the Pista Fixed for the velodrome. But it’s with a couple of different models that Iride really stands out from the sea of Italian builders (even those still building with steel tubes).
The Il Mercante has a 20-speed drivetrain and is intended for urban cycling. It offers an upright yet still aerodynamic position for the rider courtesy of Gipiemme Piega Sport Torino “pull back” handlebars. Keeping with Iride’s neo-retro vibe, the Mercante offers an antipasto platter of components from various Italian manufacturers, similar to how manufacturers sourced parts from many different companies during the 1970s and 80s, before the proprietary groupset began to rule the roost.
The Monello is the single speed version of Il Mercante, and the Mixte offers step-through geometry with the same single speed drivetrain. All of Iride’s models offer a full-range of custom options, including frame geometry, the use of oversize steel tubing (on some models) for a stiffer ride, chrome lugs and trim, water bottle mounts, saddle and seatpost choices. Forks come in three options: a full carbon Columbus Minimal fork (which Iride recommends), a carbon fork with steel steerer, or a full steel fork made of Columbus tubing. You can also choose your wheelset, upgrade to a Chris King headset, and have your name hand painted under the clearcoat.
Iride offers these options on a full bike build that still comes in at a lesser price point than going full custom. While all of the options are subject to upcharges, there really is no limit to how much you can customize your dream bike.
As long as you love red.