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GOrilla or Go Home

By Eric J. Herboth

Based in Zurich but built in Italy, this small company has one eye on tradition and the other on the future.

Though Zurich’s Butzenstrasse is only about a mile from the flatland that rings the city’s namesake lake, the street runs on a respectable uphill grade all the way to the headquarters of Gorilla Bicycles. “A lot of the young guys on their fixies complain about it,” says company head Thomas Schreier of the hill, adding with a chuckle, “but no pain no gain, right?” Butzenstrasse doesn’t pose much of a challenge for Schreier, who lives around the corner with his two children and wife Lisa, and rides a geared bike.

At its core Gorilla is imbued with a deep and unflinching love of the bike that, according to Schreier, is focused on “linking the Italian frame-building tradition to the new world of urban cycling.” Thus far the company seems to have struck a smart balance between past and present; though much of the buzz around the Gorilla name comes from the burgeoning urban fixed-gear community, the company’s flagship Lago frame shows they’re equally versed in the velo craftsmanship of yore.

According to Schreier, the company officially began in the summer of 2007. “Before that start, I traded Italian vintage bicycles and parts, traveled around Italy and visited many frame builders there, and had frames made with some of them.” Then the plan for Gorilla came into focus. “I felt it was time to do my own thing, in Italy,” Schreier recalls. Though he’s taken on help to cover the workload, the company is still small. “Patrick in sales and marketing, Tito in production and logistics, and myself do all,” Schreier says of the company’s tight ship.