So, being mostly “new” to vintage bikes, Losa was not a brand I was familiar with and having seen the beautiful frame for sale I set out to find out more, however there seems to be very little comprehensive information about Losa bikes out there.
Unlike Gios, there is no association to any major cycling team of the past and although Losa still exists as a brand, there is nothing related to the brand history on the Losa website other than the briefest mention that they’ve been building frames since 1960. The picture on the right originally appeared on the Losa website in 2005 where they’d reproduced an article from a Japanese magazine, but now it’s only available on the Internet Archive (page 1, page 2, page3) or multiple forums/blogs where others like me have included copies.
Do a search and the main piece of info that you find will be that Giovanni Losa (known as Vanni) was a master artisan frame-builder from Milan, primarily known for making frames for others – in particular the Cinelli Super Corsa from the 1990s until 2008 and the PEP Magni/ICS frames (a lovely example of these from 1984 is shown on the ICS page at Classic Rendezvous). Surprisingly the specific entry for Losa at ClassicRendezvous actually only includes the Cinelli/Magni/ICS information and doesn’t mention his own brand or include any pictures (when I’ve finished my build, I’ll see if I can correct that).
He was also the “secret” producer of frames for many other “boutique” brands – Anselmo, Bellini, Brazzo, Chiodini, Guarini, Pavarin – to name a few. Have even seen his name associated with more known brands such as Motta & Rossin – as well as, of course, his own branded frames.
However although brand detail seems to be lacking what you will find if you dig around is that these were high-end frames, well regarded by those who know of Losa – do a search for some of these boutique brands and you will find many advertised as “XYZ by Losa”, the fact that they were produced by Vanni Losa adding value or a level of prestige. As I type this, I’ve just realised that the Guarini I was drooling over at the Chiltern 100 Cycling Festival a few weeks ago (pictured on the left) was actually built by Vanni Losa.
Steel Vintage Bikes stated on their Facebook page that “Vanni Losa was certainly one of the best frame builders in the 1980s” and, in the description for a Losa they had for sale on their site, said “He is responsible for some of the finest classic steel frames around, building frames as a contractor for other famous companies… …When Losa made bikes that were to bear his own name, they would always be an extra special piece of artisan frame building.”
In any searching you will also find multiple images of beautiful bike frames, many having the lugs decorated with his distinctive “V” (for Vanni) pantograph.
Despite the rather spartan information, I’d obviously seen enough to persuade me to make my own purchase (I’d said at the outset I wanted something a bit more exotic, so certainly ticking that box), but for a frame-builder so highly regarded I remain surprised about how little background depth there really is out there, with us all re-hashing essentially the same high-level information (as I’ve just done above).
As & if I find anything additional related to the history of Losa, I’ll come back and update this post