It would be interesting to know exactly what Alberto said about the frame. Although it is well known that information from those sources are often either romanticized or just plain incorrect, it would be helpful.
Regarding the components that were used to comstruct the frame, I differ from your opinion, with all due respect. The milled seat stay plugs for example, I've seen on other Italian Masis of the period; specifically early Masi prestige frames used the same plugs in addition to post 1974 or so Italian GC's. It is very unlikely that Faliero did one set or even a few just for special occassions. Even if he did it would be no problem to hand a pair to a contractor and tell them to use them on a certain bike. I suspect the plugs were engraved by a company who did parts milling for everyone when pantagraphing parts was still in style. Shortly after that the plugs were IC as opposed to machined and milled for decoration. The lugs and fork crown did not require any real "finishing" work, only the BB shell had to be filed on that frame; aside from that there is no other "traditional" work required on that bike. I would be inclined to go the opposite of your guess that Faliero did the brazing, if he did anything at all. Brass brazing a lugged frame is the most touchy operation of the framebuilding process, one that Faliero did not keep up on I'm pretty sure. You probably would not want a frame built by a 70 year old man who was just brazing a frame here and there. It takes practice to maintain that skill at a high level and produce consistant results. I really doubt Faliero was doing that, especially since it is SO easy to tell a contractor what you want and have them hand it to you when it's done. What happened when one of Falieros' buddies wanted him to "build them a frame" was you go to the shop and have Masi measure you and put on the "dog and pony show" in grand Italian style for you. That is what Faliero (and Alberto) have been doing for years. You get the benifit of their experience and resources and you get the pleasure of their company for a while. When the bike is done and is finally done at the painter, Faliero would assemble your bike personally; and that is having Faliero build you a frame.
I don't question that the bike is somewhat rare since we haven't seen any here. The reason is that the frames were not allowed to be sold in the US. Faliero (or somebody) obviously made enough of those frames to justify a specific decal set for Falieros' side project, so to speak. Again, I'm reasonably sure Faliero didn't build enough bikes himself to justify a specific decal set. Even 100 decal sets is chicken feed for a decal maker; there were more likely 500 to 1000 sets printed.
Don't forget there was a rift between Faliero and Alberto on account of Faliero making a deal that cut off Albertos' biggest potential market, the US. I feel that the "Faliero Masi" frame probably reflected the seperateness of the two parties at the time, even though the Italian GC from Alberto and the Faliero frames are nearly identical. It is not unreasonable to assume that the frames were made by the same contractor(s).
I suspect that if someone has an Italian Masi from about 1975 to 1977 they will probably see a frame pretty much like the one Matteo has. There will not be many in the US, so they will most likely turn up in Europe somewhere. Anyone have any examples of Masis from that time period? I have seen an older Masi (mid 60's I think) that had been repainted in Italy and was fitted with the "Faliero Masi" decal set. Again, probably a buddy of Falieros' who sent the bike in for refinishing and it came back with the FM decals.
This part is difficult to explain and it may not be useful, but I still have an impression from when I was working at Masi and Faliero was there. Faliero had already put in his time and made his mark by 1973. He no longer had to build frames. As long as it was done his way, it was a Masi. I honestly don't think he was in the framebuilding mode at age 65+, even for an occassional situation. The only framebuilding operation Faliero did during the time I was there was to bend forks. He loved to do it for some reason. He would actually put his full weight on the breaker bar that extended about 2 or 3 feet past the steerer and bend the fork at the crown for some extra rake that would not be visible in the blades. Most of the time Masi assembled the completed bikes and that's about all. He was not in poor health to my knowledge, but his body was not fit for the rigors of daily framebuilding. I've been feeling my wear and tear for a few years now and I'm only 50. At 65 I really doubt that Faliero had any interest in building the bikes; there were too many people that could and would do it quicker and better and do it at a price that he could make money on without doing anything. I still say that odds are heavily in favor of Faliero not having any hand in building the frame. It is a feeling I get from knowing what it takes to build frames and knowing what stage of life Faliero was in shortly before the frame was probably made.
We had this discussion before. The bike is unusual to our eyes and certainly deserves attention, but I would not go so far as to say that Faliero made the frame himself without more examples of such frames and something more concrete or some supporting evidence that this is the case. It just does not feel right to me. I'm open to more information and other opinions.
Out of time to write this evening. I'll try to give a short report on the SD Vintage ride at the velodrome this morning. We had fun but the weather here has been SUCKING!! for quite a while. It was drizzleing and the track was wet, so we didn't get in much riding, and yet it felt GREAT to get back on the track again. Dave Staub and myself had the most fun. We rode the Schwinn track tandem built for the 1964 Olympics that was ridden by Jack Disney and Tim Mountford.
Sterling Peters put on a nice BBQ in the park afterwards which was actually the highlight of the day. His ladyfriend Regina made some first class food including some very tastey beans and a pineapple upsidedown cake. We'll take another shot at a track event in Sept.
Brian Baylis La Mesa, CA Let us all prey for the safe return of Brother Matt Gorski. He's doing the "Escape from Alcatraz" triathalon tomorrow! Swimming in the San Francisco Bay, I THINK NOT! And then my other firm belief; if God had meant for us to RUN he would have given us legs!
Get ready for another time waster like the discussion on BB height. I have a few comments on building frames to front center dimentions which is certain to end up the same; much discussion resulting in no clear results. This will pertain to small frames, which I specialize in. Being a small rider, I will lay out what is wrong with building small frames to that standard. I will probably tell any small rider what they already know, but it may help others understand what small riders need in frame geometry and steering attributes that is missing from "front center" framebuilding. Small riders are handed a bunch of unneccessary compromises which rob them of the full potential for a proper fit and good steering. Sorry, but it's a pet peeve of mine.
I have been reading Brian and other people's notes about Matteo's
> Faliero Masi. I will admit to being the one who translated the original
> email text from Alberto regarding the building of the frame. Matteo was
> also nice enough to share a good number of photos of the bike with me
> prior to his purchase of the bike. It is one very special bike! Perhaps
> I am speaking out of line, but I believe Matteo would be willing to
> send the photos to others too. I would even recommend that he have them
> posted on the Masi page of the CR site.
> As Brian mentioned, because of the componentry, the frame most
> definitely post-dates Faliero's time in California. It is also
> completely different from any other Masi that I have seen elsewhere.
> Virtually all the frame traits are nonetheless truly Masiesque: it is a
> mixture of new and old. Given the combo of elements used and knowing
> how subcontractors work, I would be inclined to believe that it was
> indeed Faliero who at least partially built the frame. Subcontractors
> simply do not get the components for a single frame together with their
> build sheet, they get batches of components. They would also not change
> their building style for one single frame. The fact the the frame uses
> the 'M' Fischer BB shell as well as the 'Masi' fork crown shows a high
> degree of pride in the 'M'asi name. The multiple cut-out BB and two-
> plate fork crown are both just as recognizable as Masi features for the
> initiated, but they don't shout it out like the ones on Matteo's frame.
> I think that Faliero is typical of so many Italian craftsmen who became
> business people. He was happy to have others do the work for him but
> maintained complete control of the production. To do this, he had to
> stay up-to-date on every aspect of production and know how to do it
> himself. As such, I think that it is likely that Faliero would have
> personally selected all the components, then perhaps done the basic
> building (given the choice of components, it isn't likely a
> subcontractor would have done the basic brazing with such an odd
> combination) and then almost certainly had one of the subcontractors do
> the finishing.
> Steven Maasland
> Moorestown, NJ