Masi Bits - Head Tube Badges and Decals    BACK

Italy, c. 1952 Italy, c. 1950's Italy,  1961 Italy, c. 1963 Italy, 1968 Italy, 1970-1971 Italy, 1970-1971 Italy, c. 1972 Italy, USA, 1973 USA, 1975-1977 Italy, 1975 Italy, date unknown Italy, 1975-1977 Italy, 1978-1979 Italy, 1978-1979 USA, 1978-1990's Italy, 1978-1983 Italy, c.1981 Italy, 1984-1990's Italy, 1984-1990's USA, 1990 USA, 1990 USA, 1982 Italy, 1990's-present USA, 1996    
Early Masi Speciale Corsa Same, better condition Masi Special Pista Different version (note thinner border and more black space top and bottom) Wider border, shorter size, some small detail changes. First Gran Criterium decal set.  The colors on this one are quite faded. Better colors., some small detail changes and better color registration. Second Gran Criterium decal set, first version.  Note no white borders on fleur de lis and serpent. Second version, also appeared on first US Masi bikes. Same decal set on later Carlsbad bikes, with "Milano" razored out.  "Faliero Masi" bike.  Not much is known about this rare model.


Unusual decal, typeface matches neither early 70's or late 70's.  Decal set came with Faliero signatures. First Masi Prestige decal set. Second Prestige decal set. Return to older slabserif typeface (though rounder sanserif typeface remained on down tube). Note lack of white border on upper emblems. White background version After Carlsbad closed, US returned to complete decal (with "Milano") on head tube and seat tube. Rounded sanserif typeface returns to head tube, this time in a vertical format with WC stripes and Italian flag. A new crest with just the Florentine fleur appears sporadically sometime in 1980 and is gone by 1982. Back to the older crest.  Alberto signature is added, and a new design on the right emblem incorporates Visconti cross. Same but with black text at bottom.  HI-FI refers to the High Fidelity investment cast lugs. US variation for "Russian" limited edition. Plain text on Alexi Grewal's US-built track bike.  Similar graphic used on US T3V's "Barcelona" limited edition Sometime in the '90's, Alberto began to use this 'shadowed' logo in various color combinations. "Jubilee" 60th Anniversary limited edition.    
Here's an interesting photo of Alberto
with a few of the head badge designs  produced
over the years (photo by Rex Gephart)
 Headbadges were stamped by several different companies and were sometimes used concurrently.  Variations in size, thickness, details of coat of arms, etc. occurred,
 but not in any predictable way (and therefore may not be a reliable indication of the year).


Some Information on the Design of the Masi Crest  (or, some time with Google and an overactive imagination)

The two primary symbols on the Masi crest (or coat of arms) are a red fleur de lis and a green serpent devouring a child. 

The latter, along with a white cross on a red field (which also appears on later Masi crests), is the symbol of the Visconti family which ruled Milan (thus the crown above the symbol) and a quick internet search reveals several possible origins.  One is a reference to the Crusades, that the symbol is of a serpent devouring a Turk Saracen warrior.  This seems very unlikely as most renderings of the symbol depict what appears to be a child or youth, not a warrior. 

Another explaination is found in Alciato’s Book of Emblems:

"To the most illustrious Massimiliano, Duke of Milan. An infant springing from the jaws of a curling snake is your family’s noble device. We saw the Pellean king had made such coins, and had celebrated with them his own decent. It teaches that while he was sown from the seed of Ammon, his mother was fooled by the image of a snake and that he was the offspring of divine seed. He comes forth from the mouth. Is it because in this way, some claim, certain snakes bear their young, or because Pallas sprang that way from the head of Jupiter?"

But the most likely explaination is offered by a young resident of Milan:

"As you may know the symbol of my Town is a dragon holding in its mouth a child. It is called “Biscione” (vulgar for “big snake”) and it is related to a legend. During the middle ages Milano was surrounded by a huge lake where this dragon, named Tarantasio had its lair. The giant snake terrorized the country, stealing babies from the houses of the villagers and killing calves.

"One day one of the noblest knights of Milan from Visconti dynasty, killed the dragon, thus breaking the nightmare and becoming governor of Milan. Since that day the crest of Visconti family is a giant snake eating a boy.

"This legend is probably related to the finds of giant ribs in the countries around Milan, where you can find several churches exposing “dragon bones” and paintings depicting a knight killing the dragon. Obviously they are fossilized whale ribs... in prehistoric times the sea covered all the counriside around Milan so there are frequent fossil finds in Lombardia."


There are several possible sources for the fleur de lis as it appears in the Masi crest.  The symbol is most often associated with France, and France's involvement in northern Italy (with Milan, Venice, Lodovico Sforza, and the Bogia family) was extensive and complex.

But what is far more plausible is that it has something to do with Florence, whose fleur de lis symbol has two stamens separating the petals.  This, rather than the simpler French version, is what appears in the Masi crest. Some significant connection between the ruling families of Milan and Florence may be the answer then.  Or perhaps it is something more personal and more recent… perhaps one or both of Faliero's parents was from Florence.  Whatever the connection, it seems to be a significant one since the fleur de lis appears to be the more important of the two emblems, appearing alone in the earliest Masi badges and decals, and also appearing on some 80’s and 90’s fork crowns.

 If anyone has additional information, or even an interesting theory, please let me know.