A Visit with Faliero and Alberto Masi - Summer 1972

by Doug Fattic


This story began with the following post to the CR list:


The discussion about wheel building reminds me of a few of things that stood out in my mind about the wheels on my '72 Masi I received in the fall of that year.  The first was that they were tied and soldered and the second was that they were 32 hole.  Oh, and they were small flange hubs.  Stuff that I had gotten in the '60's were all high flange.  Of course this is a standard count now but was not what I thought most people used then.  At the time, I thought that maybe Faliero was having the spokes tied and soldered as a way to compensate for the smaller spoke count.  So my question is, was this typical for Masi's of this era to have wheels that were tied and soldered with 32 spokes?  And what about my impression that small flange Campy hubs were not common in the '60's?

Doug Fattic
Niles, Michigan

I then wrote to Doug to ask about his bike and if he still had it.  Over the next few weeks, we exchanged quite a few emails, from which the following story is edited:

My parents went to Italy in the summer of 1972 and ordered two bikes from Masi, a complete bicycle for myself and a frame for my girl friend.  My mother can be really persuasive and talked Faliero into having one completed before they came back home.  Unfortunately, it was stolen out of their rented car while visiting the Shroud of Turin.  Immediately, she contacted Masi again and he made another which was sent about 6 weeks later.  This was around October of 1972 when it arrived.  I definitely had it a few months before 1973.

Hi, you got me intrigued about the date of my Masi so I took out the fork like you suggested and it has the date of  9 72, which of course agrees with my memory.  Now my memory is not so great about the fork crown on the littler Masi that I got for my old girl friend.  I traded it for a Harry Quinn that was my size a year later (so it wouldn’t irritate my new girl friend who became my wife and I got a nice curly stay Hetchins for her in ‘73 -  that escaped the damage my two frames received).  What I vaguely remember is that the little Masi did not have a twin plate crown.  The serial number on the fork as well as on the bb of my Masi says V58 which I always assumed referred to the size.  I remember that Masi wanted to sell me a 57 but I wanted a slightly bigger size.  I have never understood what the V stood for.  I just found out from Brian Baylis when I asked about that other Masi in my shop that the sizing on the Masi’s are center to tip top of the lug which makes mine about a 56 center to center.

It would almost be too funny if this Masi of mine was built in Confente’s shop.  The hot desire of his frames have always been a bit of an irritating/jealousy thing with me.  Back in 1976 I was visiting my cousin (who started a pro shop called Raincross Cycles in Riverside CA ) and he was telling me about this wonderful builder.  He even had a big named racer meet me with his Confente to show me.  I remember saying, well that is a really nice bike but have you noticed how well my bike is made too?  They didn’t actually bother to look much so that is the root of my feelings.  It was also the beginning of my education about reputation and marketing.  The appreciation of a bike is more than how well it is made and even how beautiful it is.  Since he died, his frames have been elevated to sainthood.  By the way, my Masi isn’t a bike I would ever sell.  I am sentimental and wish I had every primary bicycle I ever rode.

I still have the frame but I put the parts on about the 3rd or 4th frame I built for one of my high school students.  I taught for one more year after apprenticing in England in ‘75 before going into frame building and painting full time.  Unfortunately his bicycle was stolen when he was in med school at Loma Linda in California so they are lost forever.  Another sad fact about the frame was that when I moved from my old house to my new, I left my Hetchins and Masi frames in the basement of the old house until I could find a proper place to store them in my new house.  Well the new owner of my old house didn’t see any value in bicycle frames so he left them in a side shed where they rusted when I came to get them later.  I thought they were still in his basement.  Bummer.  They aren’t terribly damaged but I don’t want to repaint the Masi since I can’t do it with the same paint, someday I might the Hetchins since I had it repainted once before to give it to my brother.

I started to clean up the Masi.  It also had the indignity to be in my basement when a water pipe broke and filled the basement with crud.  That left an ugly residue on top of the paint.  Most is that is now off with some simple cleaners.  It’s looking healthier.  I have most of the parts needed to build it up, but as a frame maker I kind of admire frames more than complete bikes so this isn’t a pressing issue with me.  The same with the first bike frame I built.  I figure sometime I will also mate it with the first pair of wheels I built (Campy Record high flange with yellow labels).  We’ll see.

Notes on the photos:  Photos are Kodachrome slides taken with an M-series Leica, exposures unknown.  Scanned at 48 bit/2400 dpi, processed in Photoshop.

Click photos to enlarge.

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