Faliero Masi - The Tailor
Faliero Masi is considered one of the greatest custom bicycles builders of all time. For decades his frames have been synonymous with quality. He earned the nickname "il Sarto" (the Tailor) thanks to his dedication to the needs of each and every racer. Masi frames were used by many road and track racing cyclists like Fiorenzo Magni, Fausto Coppi, Antonio Maspes, Ferdinand Bracke, Federico Bahamontes and Eddy Merckx.
The early '20s - The young Tuscan Faliero Masi began racing in the youth ranks of the local Championships and later moved on to race at a national level, the Giro d'Italia. In the same years, he worked as a mechanical apprentice at Campostrini's workshop and started designing and building frames.
1949-1952 - Masi opened his own workshop in Milan, underneath the Vigorelli Velodrome, where his son Alberto continues to this day to produce high-quality bikes.
The '50s and the '60s - Masi built innovative frames for some of the best racers. He liked to tell stories about the Milanese sprinter Antonio Maspes, who was very demanding and even wanted that hubs, chain and bottom bracket were washed with gasoline to remove any traces of grease. He believed it could restrain the movement.
The hour record is what Masi's name is most associated with. In 1967, when Ferdinand Bracke beat the hour record in Rome's Olympic Velodrome it is said that he tried his bike only once the day before the race because it was a Masi bike and the champion trusted completely the Tuscan frame builder. Masi, in fact, has handbuilt five out of the six bikes that have beaten the hour record.
The most famous models of the '60s are the Speciale Corsa, the Masi Special and the iconic Gran Criterium. This bike became the company's flagship model, a symbol of Masi's unique style and one of the most coveted bikes ever by collectors. It's even appeared in the American film of 1979, Breaking Away, winner of an Oscar award. The protagonist Dave Stohler loves competitive bicycles racing, and to him, there is only one perfect bike, a red Masi Gran Criterium.
Masi's impressive reputation allowed him to sell bicycles overseas and to move to the United States to expand the production of the frames.
1972 - Masi passed the Vigorelli workshop to his son Alberto and moved to Carlsbad in California to expand the market for Italian frames. But the experience was not positive. It appears that there was a disagreement on production volumes and Masi returned to Italy, after selling the name and trademark Cicli Masi to the American businessman Roland Sahm.
To this day, the factory in California keeps producing bikes for the American market, while in the Vigorelli workshop in Milan Masi's son Alberto keeps alive the family tradition by building high-quality bikes, like his father.
1984 - One of Alberto Masi's most important models is the 3V Volumetrica. The idea was to combine a very advanced oversized steel tubing with even more advanced internal lugs, hidden in the frame. In 1984 Masi Milano presented the first 3V Volumetrica.
Nowadays the mass production of bicycles has slightly supplanted small workshops, but the name Masi and the excellence of his frames continue to excite collectors from all over the world.
(1) Faliero Masi
(2) Skyview of Velodrome Vigorelli in the '70s
(3) Masi Grand Criterium
(4) Masi 3V Volumetrica
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