[CR]RE: American Masi = fake Masi

(Example: Racing)

From: "Jim Cunningham" <cyclartist@home.com>
To: <classicrendezvous@bikelist.org>
Date: Mon, 30 Jul 2001 10:03:34 -0700
Subject: [CR]RE: American Masi = fake Masi

I can shed light on a few points here:
>Perhaps the only "deception" could be that the non-Italian bikes were no more than just a cynical attempt to cash in, on the >Italian bike image portrayed in Breaking Away...............

The start of the US Masi operation preceeded the breaking away Movie by nearly 5 years.
>What I'd be interested to know, is why Falerio chose to set up production in the U.S. ? Was it just a straightforward case of >the need to avoid U.S. importation duty on foreign goods to maximise profit / minimise costs or was there more to it than >that. In the Post WWII era, few British manufacturers broke into the export market to mainland Europe due to, for example, >the high level of duty imposed by the French government but there did not appear to be the same problems exporting to the >U.S. and Canada. Clearly though this was well before the American bike boom era. Falierio was approached by an American business man Roland Sahm, who wanted to build European race bikes in the US. The bike boom had been raging for several years, the vast majority of bikes were imported, and Sahm though there was a real opportunity. The contract made a significant payment to Falierio in exchange for exclusive rights to the US market, and Falierio's assistance in setting up the US operation. Falierio brought Mario and other builders he had been subcontracting to assist him. The contract also stated that the product had to match the original Italian specification. Originally, at least until Confente's departure, there were only very minor differences, such as the addition of serial numbers (the Italian bike had none) removing the point on the front of the chainstay bridge reinforcement. I suspect that the evolution of the frame design has been in parallel and in cooperation that of Masi of Italy, to some degree. Branch models like the Nuovo Strada are unfortunate, as they not of the quality expected of Masi, but I don't know if Masi of Italy sold a similar bike or not.

I do recall while working at Masi US in early 1976, finding a stack of the stars and stripes seat tube wraps, which were not in use at the time. I asked about them and suggested that we use them. They seemed intended to proclaim the US made origin. I suggested, that especially since if was the Bicentennial, perhaps we should use them. I was given permission and we did use them for a while. Sometime later, I was asked to go back to the world championship bands because the dealers preferred to represent the bikes as made in Italy. There always was a presumption that the American built bikes were somehow a poor imitation of the "genuine" Italian bikes. It's an easy prejudice to accept, but is untrue. The American bike at least until 1977 and mostly until after 1987 were built in one shop. They were more consistent than the Italian bikes that were built mostly by subcontractors. Of the hundreds of Masis I've seen and refinished, with the exception of a very few custom Italian Masis, the pre 1977 Italian frames, fine as they are, are not built as well as their US counterparts.

On another point, I had a nice ride with Sterling and crew in San Diego yesterday. I rode my 1961 jack Taylor curved tube with ASC 3 speed fixed gear, one of my favorite bikes. I don't generally use this bike on such hilly terrain, but was pleasantly surprised with how comfortable it was.

Jim Cunningham