This is my favorite response in this interview. At least once a day, in my shop, someone asks me which frame material is the best. From now on this will be my answer.
CB: What do you think of non-steel bikes: Aluminum, carbon, titanium? FM: Most don't serve any purpose. They are no good. Most of this sort of innovation is to make money, not to make a better bike.
Also; a "dry hand shake " is something that I have always appreciated...
Jamie Swan - Northport, N.Y.
Chuck Schmidt wrote:
> Golden Oldie from April 2000:
> With the recent death of legendary frame builder Faliero Masi I thought
> the group might be interested in the following interview that appears on
> the Torelli site. Bill McGann (Simonian) is owner of Torelli (aka
> "Chairman Bill")...
> Chairman Bill talks to Faliero Masi
> In the Fall of 1991, I sat down with Faliero Masi at the Milan Bicycle
> show. Cicli Masi of California was planning the "Barcelona
> Commemorative" frameset and needed to know exactly what Olympic games
> had riders earning gold medals on Masi frames. The
> post-1972 games were no problem, as they had all seen California Masi
> frames ridden to gold medals. Those were known. The earlier
> history needed to be nailed down.
> I took this as an opportunity to learn more about the great man's
> history. I wanted to know more about his relationships with some of the
> great riders, and also about his work as team mechanic. In the days
> before the huge dollar expenses of a pro team, a mechanic such as
> Faliero Masi would not only service the bikes on a tour, he would build
> them. This gave him a magnificent opportunity to observe every
> aspect of bicycle design, construction, and use from the raw tube to the
> end of the race.
> My wife Carol and I met with Masi, along with Antonio and Mauro
> Mondonico. Mauro Mondonico served as translator, my own Italian
> being hopeless for the task. At the time, Mauro's English was not as
> fluent as it is now. The responses Masi gave us were short, clipped,
> and precise. We could not take down his responses literally. The
> conversation is reconstructed from our notes and I believe, accurately
> captures the essence of Masi's responses. Unfortunately, time was short,
> and the translating process was cumbersome and time
> Antonio Mondonico & Faliero Masi at the Milan Bicycle Show
> Masi walked to the show grounds from his house dressed impeccably in a
> houndstooth sportcoat and sportshirt buttoned at the top button,
> but no tie. His handshake was dry, solid and firm. He brought with him
> an early issue of "Winning" magazine that carried an interview
> of him. He thought it would give me help. He also brought a copy of a
> letter to him from Fausto Coppi.
> Chairman Bill: Signor Masi, when did you build your first frame?
> Faliero Masi: I was 16 years old. I went to school, came home and built
> frames. I learned by doing.
> CB: When you first started building frames, we know that you thought
> that the bicycle as it then existed needed much improvement.
> What were the specific areas of cycle design that you set about to
> FM: Everything. There needed to be different tubing for racing bikes.
> CB: Who was the first champion to win a major race on a Masi?
> FM: Magni, around 1924.
> CB: When did you open the bike shop under the Vigorelli?
> FM: 1952. And in 1942, I built frames for Learco Guerra. (This referred
> to the previous question)
> CB: What Olympic games had riders winning medals on a Masi?
> FM: Melbourne, Rome, Munich. (Note, Montreal Los Angeles, and Seoul were
> sites for wins on Cicli Masi frames from California).
> CB: What events?
> FM: I am 83 years old. It is hard for me to remember all these details.
> Maybe the magazines can help you on this.
> CB: What Tours de France were won on Masi frames?
> FM: Bahamontes, Nencini, Riviere.
> CB: What great Classics were won on Masi?
> FM: I can't remember them. There are so many. The KAS team rode Masi
> frames for 11 years. I built for Faema and Peugeot. In 1946
> I built the Raleighs.
> CB What professional world championships were won on Masi?
> FM: Adorni, Merckx, Van Looy. For 7 years I was Van Looy's builder.
> CB: Are there any other world hour record besides Coppi's that have been
> won on a Masi?
> FM: Timoner. He was world champion 6 times and won the world hour
> record. (Note, this was for motor-pace racing).
> CB: There is a famous picture of Coppi holding you after he won the
> World Hour Record. Do you have a copy of this picture?
> FM: I don't have any of the old pictures any more. You might check with
> La Gazzetta Dello Sport.
> CB: We know of some of the great riders for whom you have provided
> cycles: Merckx, Coppi, Anquetil, Simpson, Maspes, Adorni,
> Harris. Are there any other great champions that rode Masi we should
> know about.
> FM: I built frames for Maspes for 6 years. I built for Panbianco for the
> Giro in 1964. I was the director sportif that year. Also Bobet.
> CB: The Italian art tradition is one of technology and techniques passed
> on from teacher to student over a long apprenticeship. Donatello
> to Bertoldo to Michelangelo, for example. Who did you learn from?
> FM No one. I had to start from scratch.
> CB: How long was it before your frames were accepted?
> FM: They were an immediate success!
> CB: Because of the huge dollars involved, it seems that it is rarely
> possible for a builder to be both supplier and mechanic to a
> professional team these days. Did these multiple jobs in racing
> contribute to the development of your racing bikes?
> FM: It is not possible today to be all things. Racing as a laboratory
> for innovation is probably over. Today, a builder can collaborate
> with one racer. Racers don't seem to care about this sort of thing
> CB: Who was the most demanding racer?
> FM: Maspes was the most difficult. He was a meticulous racer. He even
> boiled his ball bearings in English oil.
> CB: What do you think of non-steel bikes: Aluminum, carbon, titanium?
> FM: Most don't serve any purpose. They are no good. Most of this sort of
> innovation is to make money, not to make a better bike.
> CB: We know that you collaborated with Tullio Campagnolo on the
> derailleur. You also invented the internally lugged frame. What
> other inventions were you involved in:
> FM: I made brakes for Campagnolo. Adorni won the championship with them.
> I have also invented a way to make wheels round. Four
> years ago I was on my way to Mavic when the head of Mavic died in a car
> accident. (Note: since then, Ambrosio has licensed Masi's rim
> balancing technique)
> CB: What do you think of the components of today?: (This was asked
> before Campagnolo had come out with their modern "Ergopower
> FM: The Nuovo Record and Super Record were the most functional and
> beautiful ever. Today's groups are "tanto fumo, no arrosto" (all
> smoke and no fire).
> CB: There is a story that when you were a Director Sportif for one of
> the tours, you saw an opposing racer discard a food wrapper.
> You then ordered the follow car to stop so that you could see what the
> racer was eating in order to know how the rider was doing. This
> story is told to demonstrate your very careful approach to your work.
> FM: The food wrapper story is not true.
> CB: With what racer did you enjoy the closest working relationship?
> FM: All of them.
> The Bicycle of Grand Champions
> The story of Masi bicycles is the longest and most glorious in the
> history of cycling. No name evokes the respect that Masi does from
> knowledgeable riders. This is because no firm the size of Masi has
> influenced cycling on a like scale.
> The story of Masi starts a little after World War One. Young Faliero
> Masi at the age of sixteen started to build bicycle frames and to tinker
> with the rest of the bicycle. Something of his region, Florence, home of
> the Renaissance, must have been in him and his bikes. Almost
> immediately, his bikes were recognized for their excellence. He was that
> rarest of all artists, the successfully self-taught. By 1924, the great
> Magni was winning races on Masi-built frames.
> Working with Race Teams
> He continued to build the bikes that were acknowledged by the entire
> world as the finest. To improve his knowledge of how the bike and the
> athlete work together, he became the Italian National Team mechanic. In
> years past, the Tour de France teams were national teams instead of
> trade teams. He not only brazed the frames, he assembled them into bikes
> and worked the entire tour with the teams. The Masi reputation for
> meticulous detail extends to a story that Faliero denies but many in
> Italy swear is true. He is said to have stopped the follow car when a
> competing rider from another team discarded a food wrapper so that he
> might learn what his competitors were eating, and thereby gain an
> insight into their physical condition.
> Masi has said that collaboration on this scale, a builder from a small
> art shop equipping a powerful Tour-winning team, is no longer possible
> because of the huge dollars now involved in modern professional cycling.
> The most that can happen is that a single rider may work with a builder.
> In addition to working with the Italian national team, there was a
> steady procession of the finest riders in the world that came to Masi.
> These riders did not ride bikes that were branded "Masi". They ended up
> with the major team sponsor's name. Rik Van Looy's Masi said "Superia".
> Among the riders that Masi can recall are Bahomentes, Nancini, Riviere,
> Merckx, Fuentes (the great duels between Merckx and Fuentes were often
> with both riders on Masi bikes), Adorni, Coppi, Anquetil, Simpson,
> Maspes, Harris, Panbianco, and Bobet.
> Faliero Masi built the World One Hour Record cycles of Bracke (1967)
> (weight 5960g), Riviere (1958) (weight 6850g), Riviere (1957)(weight
> 6450g) and Anquetil(1956)(7300g). The only bike in the history of the
> record lighter than these was Merckx's '72 hour bike at 5750g
> Chuck Schmidt