Mad4One and URC
Two Brands - One Team
HOW DID IT ALL START
In November of 2007, Marco Vitale founded a company known as "Vitalber." Originally based in Vitale's garage at home, the company has grown greatly since its early days.
Mad4One was the brand name coined by Marco Vitale for his original products in 2007, when he started designing and manufacturing specialty components intended for high-level, competition unicycles
"In November of 2007, Marco Vitale founded a company known as "Vitalber." Originally based in Vitale's garage at home, the company has grown greatly since its early days.
Mad4One was the brand name coined by Marco Vitale for his original products in 2007, when he started designing and manufacturing specialty components intended for high-level, competition unicycles..."
~ Marco Vitale, transcribed from an interview with the PMI (Association of Small and Medium Enterprises) of Varese at the end of 2019.
Over the years, Vitalber developed 6 different types of hubs, 34 types of cranks, (including 5-Pin, 6-Pin short, 6-Pin long, 10-Pin ISIS compatible, and ISIS standard), all of which were Ergal 7075 forged, CNC machined, or a mixture of both.
Mad4One aluminum frames are made in AL7020, AL7005 and AA6069-T6 aluminum alloy. The Powersquare aluminum frames were created after 4 years of development during which the Vitalber team worked heavily on shape and refinement of all details, as well as studying and inventing new ways to build the frames themselves.
All MAD frames were designed with large sections, and reinforced in the most stressed points such as the interlocking legs and seatpost. The disc brake lever mount (the spot where the disc brake is fastened to the frame) is also reinforced, to avoid unnecessary vibrations and promote safe usage of the brake in all riding conditions.
The less expensive steel URC frames are made with CrMo steel to grant light weight and robustness even on our budget unicycles.
After having gathered experience and information from the prototype phase, Vitalber moved to large batch production using the aforementioned AA6069 aluminum alloy, which was made to withstand fatigue and corrosion. It was an important choice. Now, all extruded tubes used to build the MAD frames are built according to this design by Mad4One.
I'm so proud about our frames. They offer great toughness and a higher durability at the best ratio of quality/cost”, says Marco.
Want to learn more about how Marco and his team designed the MAD-frames, and the reasons for their design choices? Click here: OUR FRAMES.
After many years spent on designing, refining, and producing their products, Vitalber moved to Calcinate del Pesce, Varese, in 2015. This location is now the company's operation center.
HOW MUCH DOES THE WEIGHT AFFECT THE FINAL PERFORMANCE OF A RACING UNICYCLE?
2There is a physical limit for the weight under which, even if designed and built to the very best standards, the durability is drastically reduced.
Originally, Vitalber built a lot of parts that were successfully used in competition, but in very heavy use conditions they showed a limit in how long they remained operational. Based on this experience, we have decided that strength and durability have the priority over that little extra advantage that lower weight can offer.
Since 2016, the year in which we started delivering our new, more durable products, the breakages of our unicycles has thus drastically reduced to a negligible amount.
“I'm very satisfied with this result, even if it means lower sales, because our unicycles do not break ," says Vitale.
The Company has developed up to now 2 complete lines of unicycles and parts (Mad4One and URC), from 16-inch to 29-inch for Freestyle, Muni, Urban, Road, Race, Hockey, and Basketball, and for all age groups and skills.
There is the Mad4One aluminum product line, and, since 2016, the URC steel product line (URC being an acronym for our website address, UnaRuota.Com). Both product lines offer high-quality components with an excellent value for the cost. Speaking about the URC family, Vitale says:
"These unicycles are designed with a larger audience in mind. We closely studied the balance between quality and price to be able to provide this new option. Throughout this entire venture, our approach has not changed. We strive to offer unicycles and parts that rise among the best in their category. Here, you will find the same flexibility you know from our Mad4One unicycles. We know that having the appropriate tool is the first step for aspiring athletes to achieve their goals. This is the spirit that launched URC".
Vitalber sells directly to the final customers all over the world and provides 24/7 customer support in Italian, English and German.
"Customer service shouldn’t be a department, it must be the attitude of the entire company,"
Marco never gets tired of repeating.
"The customer's needs and desires are for us a valuable asset and a precious source of new ideas".
A NETWORK OF HIGH SKILLS WITHIN A FEW KILOMETERS ...
Each product that Vitalber designs, builds, and offers is the fruit of a solid partnership with artisan companies located nearby, each one having high competence in their own specialty.
There is the laboratory specialized in the field of precision mechanics in Bergamo, where the prototypes and the first limited production runs take shape and are then refined after the testing phase; the leather goods manufacturer in Varese, where covers and strips of the MAD HandleSaddle are handmade; and a few miles away there is the company specialized in the anodizing coating of all parts in aluminum, which are then laser marked by the specialists in laser marking located nearby.
All finishing processes are not only made in Italy, they are made in Varese!
Also made in Varese is every wheel that is mounted on Mad4One and URC unicycles. They are not only built right here in Italy, but are handcrafted by the company’s staff. Once assembled, each wheel is carefully inspected and then labeled with the date and signature of whoever performed the work.
MARCO VITALE: THE CREATOR OF VITALBER
At that time, I was doing things other than unicycling. I had an IT company in Milan, flew gliders, and did a lot of mountain biking.
Even as a child, I have always loved the world of sports and competitions. At the age of 12, I started making regattas with my brother on the lake of Como, then on the Mediterranean Sea, after that in the UK, and finally in the US. Sailing was really a passion of mine.
Then, at the age of 50 I experienced a fantastic new sport, glider flying. And when I wasn't flying, I was on my mountain bike.
Frankly speaking, I could not have made so many things in sports in my life, if my wife (also a glider pilot, and an adept sailor) and the entire family (especially my son, who became skipper at the age of 18) did not share these experiences with me. For this, I am very grateful to them.
In 2004/2005 I became a MTB instructor and MTB Master, and with some friends I organized a MTB school here in Varese. In spring and summer it was great, but in winter it was not easy to keep up the level of training for the teens and children of our group. We needed to figure out how we could continue training during the cold season, and I realized that unicycling could be a valid method of working out and consolidating physical fitness.
I started reading up on the sport, and finally I bought my first unicycle. I remember the experience like it was yesterday. I made my goal to learn to ride the unicycle by Christmas! So I began, alone, in the station square of my village - start, fall, and start again. Eventually, I did it.
Everything began here.
I began meeting unicyclists all over Italy and abroad, and in 2007 we had the idea of founding the Italian Unicycle Association.
The years that followed were years of great activity. It was fantastic to organize the first Italian Unicycle Championship (in the Trials discipline). Then it was the turn of the Italian Mountain Unicycle Championships, then Freestyle, and again the Trials Championships. In 2013 we made a step forward and organized the European Trials Championship in Cuneo, Italy, and again in 2015 the European Unicycle Championship (UNIOEC) in Mondovì, Cuneo."
SLOWLY; THIS PASSION BECAME SOMETHING MORE …..
I love sport and I’m convinced that it is a good training tool at all levels. I think that for people like me, who are practicing or have practiced sports in the past, and are always in contact with enthusiasm, the goals and the dreams of young people must be first a valid example of life.
I started sailing when I was a kid, following my father’s passion and in a few years I became one of the first professional sailors in Italy. I learned how to build sails, first in Italy, then in Germany and after a couple of years I left for the US where I went to work for North-Sails.
Software development was my second great passion, I studied computer science and it became my profession. For 30 years I led my IT company.
With unicycling, I did the same. It captured me from the first ride and slowly it became part of my professional life. In 2007, I started selling both entire unicycles and individual parts of many different brands. I studied materials, analyzed components and shapes, tested their performance, followed races around Europe, listened to feedback, and bit by bit I realized that there was space to do something more. It is thus that our unicycle adventure began.
If today unicycles of all brands are superior to those of 10 years ago, I like to think that Mad4One has somehow contributed this by putting a bit of pressure on the market, causing all producers to progress further."
~ Marco Vitale, Founder, Vitalber.
THE GOAL; WHEN DESIGNING A NEW UNICYCLE OR A NEW PART?
Marco tries to summarize it in few key concepts:
"I will never get tired of saying: quality has no compromise. For instance, color is an accessory, but you must also like your unicycle. If it's ugly, how can you like it?
Other aspects such as the quality of the material chosen, the design of the reinforcements, the geometries that improve their use, are for sure more difficult to be seen, but there is no doubt that you will perceive them pedal by pedal, race by race. It is on this level that I look for comparison.
I always try to give everyone - champions or otherwise, adults and kids - the possibility to customize their unicycle both in the setup and, therefore, in the price, too. This means 'to give the possibility to CHOOSE', because being able to choose means FREEDOM.
As a customer, I appreciate flexibility in my partners. In my turn, I want to guarantee it in everything I do and offer.
Moreover, I got to admit, we are Italian, and Italians appreciate beauty. So why not make it also look good? And above all, why not give the opportunity to characterize our unicycle with colors that, no matter who sees it, can only make one say that it cannot be anything other than Marco's?"
YOUR GREATEST PRIDE?
"My greatest pride in this business is creating something that has value, seeing the satisfaction in a rider's eyes at the end of an important ride, and seeing him/her get on the podium.
And then, I admit, I am proud when a Mad4One unicycle climbs with them on to the highest podiums of the world!"
The Mad4One parts, and shortly afterwards the MAD-unicycles, started to be used at UNICON for the first time in 2012, in Bressanone, Italy.
This is the album of memories that Marco particularly loves:
YEARS GO BY FOR EVERYONE ...
"It's true I'm now 66, but in the evening when I get home with my latest idea under my arm, or when I spend the night in front of CAD because I want to do something in a more refined way,….in these moments I feel like I'm 20!"
YOUR NEXT PROJECT?
"Well, it's already in production ....:).
Let's end with a smile :) This is a video that was made by my son Giovanni in 2016. It is in Italian but it is subtitled in English, German and French.
I hope you will enjoy it.
Who do you think is the Panda?