Progrip Factory Tour - Dirt Rider Magazine

In 1925, Francesco Assaghi started a little grip company, then called Plastiche Cassano. The machinery was current for the time, as was the material the grips were made of-buffalo horn.

The tradition of handing the family business down to the sons got thrown for a spin after a series of family tragedies. Francesco's three sons all passed away within just three years. So Francesco with his two daughters and one son-in-law ran the company until one of the grandsons, Luigi Franchi, finished school and was ready to take the reins. He'd been working in the factory for years, now it was his, and he's still calling the shots today, including a change to the more marketable company name, Progrip.

His son Simone is the lead designer for the company, and with 28 employees they now pump out anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 grips per day.

They opened their doors to us to give us a glimpse of the factory floor as well as some great mementos they've collected over the years.


This is the raw rubber in the state it arrives at the factory.
Here a pink grip is being produced for a child's bicycle. You can see the mix is a combination of pink and white to achieve the perfect matching tone to the color of the bike.
A child's bicycle grip is perfectly matched to the plastic fender. Aren't you glad you're an adult now and don't worry about your toys looking super cool?... Or do we just get worse as we grow up?
Batches of the raw materials are regularly tested to ensure the rubber is performing exactly as ordered.
These are different molds for different shapes and compounds of grips. Progrip's product line covers everything from foam to triple-density with gel inserts. And that's just its grip line!
This machine stretches the rubber to test its strength and elasticity.
Luigi took this photo of Dirt Rider's own Jimmy Lewis down from the wall to pose for this photo. Lewis used to race rally for Progrip. The funny thing is, I didn't see Luigi put the photo back up on the wall...
Who else used to race rally for Progrip? Former AMA and World MX champion American Danny LaPorte.
Jimmy Lewis, Danny LaPorte, and now it was my chance. My job offer didn't seem as glamorous as racing across Africa.
The company is very proud to sponsor a local bicycle team. It has sponsored the youth group since 1975.
Progrip also designed this special jersey for Tony Cairoli after he wrapped up the 2008 World Championship. No, he didn't race in it... yet.
When family members want to earn some extra cash, Luigi puts 'em to work. Here Luigi's niece Dany packs grip shipments to make some coin and learn the business from the bottom up.
This is where Simone designs Progrip's new products and where Luigi might sit to watch over him when he starts looking at Corvette photos. Both are Corvette fans. In the country where they make Ferraris...
This is the factory in 1943, when grips were still produced from buffalo horn. Really. They would boil it two times then press it into the proper shape. Maximum output then was 1,000 grips per day.
Didn't believe me, did you? These are some examples of what your bicycle grip might have looked like in the 1920s, '30s or '40s.
Helmets have come a long way in the last 2,200 years. One of these is a current, custom-painted Progrip helmet, the other is a helmet from one of the 8,000 terra-cotta warriors discovered in an emperor's tomb in China. Luigi and Simone swore this was from one of the real terra-cotta warriors, but they were smiling an awful lot at the time.
Progrip also designed this special jersey for Tony Cairoli after he wrapped up the 2008 World Championship. No, he didn't race in it... yet.
Need to add some Italian casual style to your look? Progrip has you covered. Well, at least your eyes.