Allow me to correct your version of the story you mention regarding the "fork" incident. First, it did not involve building forks. There is anot her related story that does involve building forks that is related to tw o other Masi employees. My case had to do with filing front dropouts tha t would become complete forks in the next step of construction.
My very first assignment with a file was the task of filing the dropout junctions at the fork blade. There was a workbench with a vice on one en d and about 200 brazed but not filed fork blades. Mario showed me how to do the job by doing a sample. It's not a complicated operation nor does it take that long to accomplish. Mario set the sample down to start a " finished" pile. He set me to work and said he would be back in about an hour to check how I was doing (through the interpreter, Simonetti). When Mario returned later there were 9 filed fork blades in the finished pil e. He inspected each one in line until he got to the last one. He said " this one is no good". Before I even realized that what I said was not a good political move (being naive and only 20 years old at the time), I r eplied, "that's the sample you did". All of the other 8 blades looked al ike; the sample wasn't quite the same. Mario was a little embarrassed, b ut no one made a big deal of it. But from that point on Mario didn't lik e me all that much. Fortunately, Faliero was still there at the time and HE was the shop foreman during that time. Faliero actually liked me and kept me doing more different tasks around the shop, which is how I got so much experience at so many different aspects of filing and eventually painting.
After the Holidays when Mario returned to Carlsbad and Faliero had to st ay back in Italy (issues with work visas, only Mario was to come back). Once Mario was the shop foreman, things were a little different. The pro blems with assembling the twin plate fork crowns caused two people to qu it Masi. Jim Adney was being groomed as a brazer. Mario was blaming him for some of the problems. Mario wasn't a good person to work for. Jim Ad ney quit and went back to working at the Yellow Jersey Bike Shop, where he came from. Mike Howard was the replacement brazing apprentice. Within a short time Mike quit in frustration over the same issues with the twi n plate crowns. Within a few months I had had enough and Mike and I star ted Wizard Cycles.
Masi Carlsbad then stopped building the twin plate forks and went back t o the original Fischer crown. The same happened in Italy. The part that amuses me is that the solution to the twin plate crown problems could ha ve been solve quite easily by brazing the top plate of the crown to the steerer before trying to put the rest of the 5 pieces together. It was y ears later that I built a twin plate fork using the Masi crown, and I fi gured out the solution the first time.
So that's the skinny on my story and the related fork building story. Si nce I tell both stories at once; the two tales got mixed. But to me it i s VERY important to keep these details true and correct. If the wrong ve rsion goes down the line too far, each one being slightly incorrect, we all know what happens based on the childhood game "telephone". Next thin g you know Mario and I were having a brawl in the Masi shop and someone was killed. Jeepers!
La Mesa, CA
I recall the interesting and amusing (funny to me) story told by Brian B ayl is about his fork building experience with Mario Confente.
Hope I recall this correctly, but Brian was using one of Mario's forks a s a n example for building up his own forks. After building several, Mari o c ame back to check on the progress, saying these forks look really nice, but this single one is not up to par. Turns out the one that he didn't l ike was the one he built!
I think this story just goes to show that not one single builder is perf ect , and that you cannot make a blanket statement about a builder's entire wor k as being the "best". Don't own a Confente, would like to own a Confente, but will have to wai t u ntil the collecting curve hits the downside in the future to be able to aff ord one. Even if I never own one, sure that I have bikes that ride jus t as nice.
Have to agree strongly with Bill Talbot's post yesterday.........e.g., u nfo rtunately many of the highly sought after machines never see any real ro ad
mileage, so how can they be fairly judged or ranked as some of the best? ?? Not fair to judge a book by its cover. Only wish we could do a Co ke/ Pepsi style taste test on several bikes that have been claimed to be the "B EST" against some of the lesser respected brands --- possible to safely rid e a bike that has the frame fully masked under paper??? Naturally thi s c ouldn't be accomplished in the Cirque parking lot only.
I stand ready to road test any Confente in the local PA area in order to gi ve my unbiased opinion (are you listening George = LOL!). In my opi nio n it is a sin to hang vintage beauties on a wall and not take them out o n t he road as them were intended to be used. When I buy a bike that does n't ride well on the road, I sell it regardless of the name found on it. Fo rtunately that hasn't happened to me with the bikes purchased aside from th e 1972 Raleigh Professional that I didn't care for at all (i.e., combine d p oor build quality and horrible ride). Not judging all Raleighs unfair ly
due to this example, so you proud and loyal Raleigh owners should not ge t u pset with me.
For what it's worth, my humble road riding opinion.
Wishing all a Happy and Safe New Year!
Kevin Kruger - Grantville, PA