Friday, April 29, 2005

The "real Masi" debate revisited...

The below is part of a reply to the question posed below, regarding an article written about what is or isn't a "real Masi";

"Let's be honest, Ernesto Colnago hasn't lifted a torch in decades, but his bikes are still works of art. Bikes with the name Bottechia, Coppi, Basso, etc are named after dead people now. They were created by a person and are still run by a person, just a different person. All of the bikes that we love from years past really have very little to do with the person who created them. (Tullio Campagnolo has been dead a long, long time. People still think the parts are pretty cool.) Faliero died in 1992. Does that mean that any bike created afterwards has to use a different name? Does it mean that the last bike he personally brazed was the last real Masi? How about bikes like Peugeot? They sure were popular and for good reason, but who knows the total number of incarnations they went through. Faliero was committed to building functional machines that did their job. He believed in the best materials and best craftsmen. The bikes being made now are not being made by one single person with a torch in one hand and an espresso in the other. That isn't how you make money anymore and it isn't very efficient either. The people making the bikes now are making the bikes to the precise specifications given to them and very well at that. I assure you that the quality of the bikes is on par with anybody else. Now, as for the country of origin, it should really tell the world something that Ernesto Colnago has himself gone to Taiwan to have some of his bikes made. Pinarello has been doing it for years. Cinelli, Cervelo, BMC (the Phonak bike) and countless others are going to Asian suppliers as well. Reality dictates that you have to go where you can get the best possible quality and price. Plus, these folks having been doing this for a long time in high numbers and quality. Carbon fiber fabrication is almost unanimously recognized as being ruled by the Asian suppliers. Honestly, with carbon fiber, it isn't enough to be cheap. The liability is so huge if something fails. You have to trust the supplier; I trust my suppliers.

I believe that he was partly playing Devil's Advocate with this article, opening debate and getting people to evaluate why they value what they value."

Really, not just because this pertains to the bikes I get the pleasure to sell, we ride bikes because we like the way they ride or look or make us feel. It really doesn't matter who makes it if it works. Now, I'm not trying to discredit a custom built frame. Having somebody measure you up and build something that is as unique as your fingerprint is special. Not all of us have that option, whether it is because of the money or impatience, etc. It is our intention to build a premium bike for a better price. I think that if you look at the bikes and give them a ride, you'll be more than just a little pleased.

Tim

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

You go Tim. Love this Blog, I'm just a small town bike shop owner that likes what you have to say, keep with it

fixedgear said...

Thanks, Tim, for the well thought out and articulate response.

Anonymous said...

Here's a good way to illustrate what Maynard is writing about: Strip the decals off an '05 Gran Criterium. Show it to a hundred cyclists and see how many can identify it as a Masi.

Back in the day, you could identify a Gran Criterium without looking at the decals. And with all due respect 'cause it's probably a fine bike that's well made, there's nothing to distinguish today's GC from a boatload of other bikes with welded frames, Easton forks, and nice paint. And as far as I can tell there's no evidence that anyone connected with the Masi of old contributes their intellectual capital to the design of the new bikes.

It's not about Asia or who's holding the torch. Ernesto can do whatever he likes because his current bikes are an evolution of everything he's learned from a lifetime of making bikes, and cyclists get that. If I bought the Colnago trademark off him and started pasting it on spec bikes, I think cyclists would see the Colnago brand in a much different light.

stickboy said...

Hmmm, let's see, mid to low range... (sub C50 are now made in Taiwan)Seems like companies like Colnago, Bianchi, Cervello, Cannondale, Mer-sik... and Lightspeed are making half of their bikes somewhere else other than the region of the company's history. Just need to accept it. Looks can drive a bike to the hearts of those that remember what they 'used to be' but what it boils down to is the salesman talking enthusiasticly about how the bike rides to the customer. If the ego demands a made in Italy or your garage...offer one, or pass it on. Or let them drink the Trek or Cannondale Kool-Aid. Masi has been doing well in my shop since it's intro thanks to the floor presence and staff's excitement.
viva la GC...

Anonymous said...

I'm 58 and have been riding since the age of 16. Back then the Masi was THE bike of the peloton. Due to lack of cash, I rode a Geminiani but lusted after a Masi. Lately I been gettin by on an aluminum Trek circa 1980. A small windfall put me in the market for a new $800 bike. I looked at the Cannondales, Bianchi's, and Treks. But when I saw a Masi Alare in my frame size there no hesitation. I finally was able to own a Masi. I know there are better bikes out there but my Masi jones has been satisfied.

B.K.

Anonymous said...

I've been riding my Nuova Strada for a while now and who recommend it to my friends. I am VERY happy with it. Are there better bikes? Are there better cars? Are there better educations? One buys what one can afford. For my $850, I bought a hell of a bike. Is it a custom frame like a Seven? No. But I got a lot of bike for what I wanted to pay. I wanted to ride a nice bike, I think I have a nice bike.

The argument is silly. Everyone's bike is shite compared to Mr. Tour de Lance who has his designed bu computers, in wind tunnels, etc.

Thanks Tim for a nice blog.

Anonymous said...

Well.. Since I bought my 82 Colnago Mexico new (24 years and 40K miles ago) I have learned.. if you Add Steel, Design, Italy and $, you get a good bike.

A very good bike.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea about the quality of the current Masi bikes, but I'm sure they are fine. And if you wanted the most functional efficient bike at a good price, Masi might be it.

However, some of the romantic notions of what it means have a Masi are lost when you start sourcing these things in Taiwan. The history of Masi (the man and the brand) is a great story. Indeed, it was quite revolutionary to bring production to Carlsbad in 1973 and build an "Italian" bike in the USA. Perhaps some of the allure was lost then. I think not, as the bikes were great, built by superb builders and it ushered in a whole new era of custom American bike builders that combined American attention to detail/build quality with the ride quality for which Italian bikes were known.

I understand the economic realities of producing a product competitive in the marketplace, but why destroy the Masi brand? There is nothing in Masi’s past that has anything to do with these bikes. Why not just let it lie? Cannondale, Trek, Specialized did not pirate an unused brand (I know what you did was legal), yet still managed to build good bikes back in the day and now have built incredibly successful brands. Why can’t you? I understand – you want a head start by using the cache of an established brand – but you destroy that very cache by doing what you are doing. Would you buy a Chateau La Tour with grapes sourced from China? Of course not, as it has lost all that makes it a Chateau La Tour, even if it is a good wine. The same is true for the current Masi. They are more than simply the sum of their parts, or at least they used to be.

fccolonel said...

Hi guys. Here in the Houston area, I don't see many Masi's, so I just wanted to chime in here. I bought my first road bike in February of '08...a Masi Nuova Strada. I knew that Masi was of Italian origin, but after I bought it, I found a small plate on the front that says "made in Taiwan". I wondered if I got a watered down version of a great Italian bicycle. I'm happy to see from a few blogs that I just read that that's not the case.

fccolonel said...

In the 26 months that I've had it, I've put a little over 1200 miles on it. I don't have anything to compare it to, but I really like it. It seems light (like I said, nothing to compare), and it rolls pretty smoothly.I may upgrade in the next few years, but right now, I'm pretty happy with my Nuova Strada. Ready for the next ride. Kent from Houston

Tim Jackson said...

Thanks Kent- I hope you get many more years and miles from your Masi. We appreciate your support- sincerely.