“I heard Hija de la Conja is actually made and ran by Marino’s older brother. He is the one that taught Marino everything he knows. He lives in Spain now and has no affiliation with any of Marino’s companies.”
“I’m pretty positive that the owner of Velo Lucuma is a good friend of Marino. They both co-run the company, Marino just makes the bikes and then the guy in Florida sells them for him. They joined together to sell polo frames on the cheap. Cheap in more ways than one, if you know what I’m saying!”
And so on and so on and so on. We’ve all heard rumors regarding the relationships between the frame builder Marino Alegre and both Hija de la Conja and Velo Lucuma. Instead of letting the hearsay go on and on, we figured it would be in everyone’s interest to clear the air on this topic. To get the straight forward facts, we thought it would be best to head to the sources. We set out to contact Marino, Axel (the owner of Velo Lucuma), and Alejandro (the owner of Hija de la Conja), and we ended up getting great responses from 2/3’s of them. Marino and Alejandro responded with lightning speed (sadly, we never heard from Axel of Velo Lucuma). Both of them were more than eager to help shed some light on the foggy picture.
It turns out Alejandro is not Marino’s brother; in fact their is no physical relation at all. They are both just great friends who met though a passion of making bikes. Alejandro graduated college with a Masters in Product Development and an eagerness to use that knowledge in creating the perfect polo bike for himself. He sought out someone to help build this dream bike for him and he found a Peruvian trials and downhill frame builder to do so. This was Marino’s first taste of the bittersweet polo life. Together they created the Beer Point; which Alejandro abused for well over a year with no complaints.
With the test a success, Alejandro felt confident that Marino would be able to produce quality products for him in the future. This is one of the reasons he felt comfortable starting Hija de la Coneja. He had the design background, the close friendship with an ambitious frame builder and drive to fill a void in the polo marketplace. While enthusiastic, Alejandro prides himself on being cautious and therefore takes the time to thoroughly test out his designs before putting them on the market. To Alejandro, this and his small product runs of the frames are what set his bikes apart from Axel’s Velo Lucumas.
Marino was kind enough to shed some light on the relationship between himself and Axel of Velo Lucuma. Marino tells us that he met Axel in Peru at his job at a bank. Marino says that the two became good friends, and that Axel still keeps true to his Peruvian ties and visits the country almost monthly, despite moving to Weston, Florida a few years ago. Axel took his close-knit ties to the frame maker and his business/economic background to bring inexpensive hardcourt frames to North America.
To design his initial frames, Axel looked at Marino’s custom bike orders and found the most common measurements. He also started designing the frames with common features found on Marino custom builds; such as triple triangles and curved seat tubes. With a background in business more so than product development, Axel uses his ambition to push for mass production (well, as mass production as can come from a small Peruvian work shop). He uses his business background to bring low cost bike frames to more than just the polo community. Looking at the Velo Lucuma website, you can see that they also offer fat bike frames, fixed freestyle frames, 29er mountain bike frames, and fixed gear track frames.
If there is anything you should take from this article it is that Marino is a frame builder. While he offers custom frames, he also does production runs of frames for other companies. Axel of Velo Lucuma and Alejandro of Hija de la Coneja decided that they wanted to design and sell polo frames. To do so, they both decided to turn to their close friend Marino to build the bikes for them. While both Axel and Alejandro have their frames built at the same source, it is fairly evident that they have a different thought process going into their designs that extends through to the production. This can be most clearly seen in the difference in their end products.