How about three examples of these unknown-to-the-US Italian village bui lders who produced bikes comparable to Confente's? Picutres? Names?
Was there really a market in Italy for the high level of finish that we ass ociate with Confentes? And wasn't it this level of finish that a huge pa rt of the Confente thing? The crop of US builders from Eisentraut to pre sent did/does take things to a different level than I associate with anything that came out of Italy, at least until their bikes started to be influenced by those from the US (seen the latest Alberto Masis?). Anywa y, I think Mario, while Italian as they come, may have been a founder of something that is, or was, uniquely American.
Tom Dalton Bethlehem, PA, USA
That's one reason I don't buy into the perceived excelllence of a handfull of big name Italian marques. Most of the cyclists I know that spent a lo t of time in Italy give a similar account - a framebuilder in every decent sized town, and several in every large city. I have the idea that the gr eatest Italian framebuilder ever is probably a guy largely unknown 100 km f rom his home, let alone in America. So the fact that maybe half a dozen Italian builders out of hundreds, or maybe a couple of thousand over the ye ars, command an international reputaion and high prices seems nothing but c hance. Well maybe not exactly chance, maybe more like marketing. As F red said, the path to fame is often an association with a famous racer. After all, three of the biggest name italian builders, Masi, DeRosa and Col nago all supposedly built frames for Eddy Merckx at one time or another. A hundred other Italian builders could probably have supplied Eddy with equally good frames, but those three had the contacts to actually meet Eddy and est ablish a relationship with him. I guess that adds to the appeal of the b rands and motivates some to pay high prices, but personally, I'd rather hav e an excellent but unknown frame from a guy in some small Italian village a t a fraction of the price, although actually making a trip to Italy is usua lly the only way to obtain such a frame.
Big Spring, Texas, USA