>From the Archives. More if you search "medici" and "quality". This is my favorite, thanks Brian. Lou Deeter, Orlando FL
Archive-URL: http://search.bikelist.org/getmsg.asp?Filename=classicrendezvous.10102.061 5.eml Date: Tue, 13 Feb 2001 13:55:36 -0800 From: Brian Baylis <rocklube(AT)adnc.com> Subject: [CR]You asked for it! (Medici)
Friends, Romans, Countrymen....
The issue of the quality of work produced by Medici I will address here, then I'll stick to the story. Just like the formative years of Masi in CA; Medici went through a considerable number of gyrations from its beginning to its end. Medici frames were built almost exactly like Masi GC's shortly before and during that time. The fixturing and methods were reasonably identical to that of Masi, and also the methods of brazing and construction. Of course, when Medici occupied the original Confente facility much of what Mario used to build frames with was used to build the Medicis. In the beginning, the primary employees (Mike Howard and Gian Simonetti) and the owner (Bill Recht of NJ) had good intentions regarding building a quality American frame. Mike Howard was an experienced framebuilder and excellent brazer (from Masi and Wizard experience) and Simonetti had picked up bits of framebuilding knowledge from his experiences at Masi. Between the two of them, they were capable of building frames of reasonable (but not artistic) quality except for the painting part. That was the position I occupied when the three of us worked at Masi just prior to the forming of the Medici Bicycle Co. Since I declined to move to Los Angeles when Medici was first formed, there is a period of time which the goings on at Medici were/are unknown to me, although I know a good amount of what went on at Masi just prior to the formation of Medici.
The point here is that over the years, there have been several painters working either with (me) or for (lots of others) Medici as a painter. Sometimes there was down time between full time painters which would force Simonetti to have to paint bikes (run for the hills!) in order to finish orders. Sometimes the real painter wasn't much, if any, better than Simo at painting. Eventually they realized that if Simo could do the painting they could actually run the company with a skeleton crew of two during lean times, which did hit during the heyday of the MTB boom. Painting at the upper level requires someone that has an eye for detail and certain skills (like patience) that some painters lack. Simonetti basically doesn't have the touch or patients to become an expert with decals. That explains why some Medicis have nice and durable finishes (mostly very early ones) while others look like they were done during "art class" in kindergarden. I've seen numerous repaints done by Medidi of classic Masis that were painted and decaled as GC's for convenience sake. Their attitide is (was) valid business wise, give the customer what he wants, and never mind getting too carried away with "restorations". They have more of a utilitarian attitude. The type of work each outfit produces depends on the intentions and attitude of the owners and workers. In the case of Medici, it is not completely fair to invalidate the craftsmanship of the frame based on the admittedly poor paintwork. Better having Simo do crappy paint than have him building frames, trust me. Again, over the years there have been many phases of Medici, some of which the frames were almost excellent, since in the early days people like Sharadon Saxon (ex-Masi employee), John Sencak (builder of Wolf Cycles), and myself worked as subcontractors or employees doing framebuilding. I worked there for a little while filing frames, doing lug cutouts, etc. while a guy by the name of Chuck Carr did the painting. It was really painful to build the frames and then turn them over to a guy who was really struggleing with both paint and decals. I've never seen a painter who got so much paint all over himself; it was almost comical. I'd never seen a run that was so long that it literally dripped to the floor in a long string from the BB shell (of a frame that was left hanging in the booth overnight); until I worked at Medici. That one wasn't even Chucks' work, it was another guy!
So to conclude the preface, I can say that there are some early Medicis that are quite nice frames, many of which have good paint jobs as well. Looks like the one recently purchased by the person who inquired about Medici is an example of one. The lugs have been filed much more nicely than most Medicis you'll see, the paint is thin and the decals appear to have been properly installed. I can tell by the Hayden "Europa" fork crown that it is an earlier frame. Even the cutouts in the (granite investment cast) lugs were cut out individually by hand (using antique files, more about this later). One thing you can sort of expect from a Medici is that they are somewhat "inconsistant" over the long haul.
Well, lunch break is over. This is all I have time for now. I'll address the "time before I know about" and the early Union Pacific Ave. period next.
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