I don't know how uniquely in a position I am to review the differences in ride quality of Roland Della Santa's bike frames. Truth be told, I know numerous people who own more than one of the master framebuilder's bikes. That says something in and of itself that owners come back wanting more, or something slightly different in the range of the DS frames.
My Della Santas are fairly distinct but only two are strategically so. My first, the Molteniesque orange was purchased in part with some money I received from my inheritance when my Grandma died. The idea of honoring her, and my love of good craftsmanship, seemed like a good idea. Roland built me a classic racing bike that he even claimed was the lightest frame he'd every built. The bike is custom fit and feels perfectly attuned to my body.
The most recent DS I purchased took the same geometry as the above but stretched the tire capability to 35mm (just barely). It has that nimble road race feel with a bit more rubber to feel more secure on a typical day of riding in Reno for me, which tends to include mostly pavement with a few diversions onto dirt roads. It's still underbiking on trails but quite capable for some light dirt/gravel action.
Strangely, the Blue Della Santa, a 1979 frame, spaced to 120mm in the back, bridges the experience of the other two. It takes a wider tire than the Orange one, and has a tight racy compact cockpit. It's also a bike that pushes me towards the big ring more than the others. It's smooth 5 speed friction shifting has a tendency to keep me focused on my spinning, as opposed to constant fine tuning of gear ratios. It also happens to feel fast and incredibly smooth. I picked this up for rather cheap from someone unloading it and eventually it might turn into my L'Eroica ride.
Below is a gallery of pics of then bikes over the last couple of years in action. Throwing a leg over any of them brings me intense joy.
For over 12 Years I wrote the Reno Rambler Blog covering everything from Bicycle Advocacy, Reno Politics, Popular Culture, and my experiences as a long-time cyclist.