Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Brand New Masi "Prestige"

JE from Stockholm, Sweden, writes in about his visit to Alberto Masi at the Vigorelli Velodrome in Milan and his order for a very special bike.

A Brand New Masi "Prestige"

I took a taxi to the Vigorelli velodrome as I had been struggling the day before to survive the Milano traffic in my own car….

When arriving to the workshop, sweating like a pig (35 degrees Celsius), I was welcomed by Mr Alberto Masi himself and two customers. One of the customers knew a little English and he helped to translated. Mr Masi knew who I was as I had spoken to Mr Domenico (friend and/or colleague to Mr Masi) over the phone in April or May about ordering a frame and coming to the shop. Mr Domenico, who speaks very good English, was coming to the shop in 15 to 30 minutes. While waiting I just wandered round the shop and took in the atmosphere. The history is very present in this place. A wonderful and very, very tidy place. Mr Masi is keeping everything in strict order.

When Mr Domenico arrived he immediately said “you are JE from Sweden aren’t you?”. I guess I look very Swedish....

Of course my frame was not finished. It was not even started. My last order confirmation had not reached them. From what I was to see and hear that was a good thing. If they would have made my frame from the info I had given them by mail - it would not have been anywhere near what I now got. Being there and taking my (and their) time got me some good frame-parts that I definitely would not have got otherwise.

We talked and talked over the different parts and as we did that and Mr Masi said “no I do not have that part any more” a lot – he then went to some drawers and rummaged around. Then coming back with a part that I really wanted more than the one asked for. I asked for the same fork crown as on my two vintage Masi Prestiges. He went away for a while and when coming back, asked if I wanted the very last one of the “faux” twin plate fork crown that he had…! Of course I wanted it! Same with the lugs. I asked if he had old ones left and he said “no” and then later - “I might get a set together” and then went away for ten minutes and coming back with a set. Every little detail was talked through.

Then we got to the rear chain stays. I wanted the Cronometro/Fiera style and he said “it is going to be very, very expensive”. “It takes almost a week to do them”. We talked some more and I asked him for two prices – with and without “holes”. The hours went by and we agreed on decals – and again I got old ones. Not replica. He said “This is a big risk we are taking. This is the last set of Prestige decals suited for a Champagne paint job and they are very fragile. They can break when mounted and if so we are all out of them and has to think of other decals and colours. But then the frame is already painted and it will be a catastrophe.”

I asked if he know the painter well and if he could instruct him about it and he said “yes”. We decided to give it a chance. I also ordered chrome head lugs and fork crown – and drop outs.

As I did not want a replica of any special model or year we could pick what I wanted and what Mr Masi thought was a good mix of things, colours and decals. When he asked me what kind of group I was putting on it - I said – my thought is to have the opportunity to "have the cake and eat it”. He was puzzled by Mr Domenicos translation but then I explained how I was thinking. As the frame is being built it is going to accept everything from a Vintage Nuovo Record group to a modern Super Record 11 group. I will mount a Nuovo Record head set and then we will see – as I have a lot of vintage bikes I am tempted to build it with a Super Record 11 just to go all the way in retromodern. Alberto was happy with my thinking. He said “a new frame in old style with modern parts would be perfect”

Time was flying and we had spent hours talking. I was getting ready to leave. We made arrangements about payment and delivery. We talked about the price and of course I wanted the “holes”. Alberto was happy that I ordered it with Cronometro stays and I do not think it was just the money he was thinking about – I think he is proud of them.

They helped me to get a taxi back to the hotel and Mr Masi actually walked me out to it. Sitting in the taxi my head was spinning with thoughts and impressions. It had been a very, very nice day.......

It was an even better day when the frame arrived a couple of days ago. Everything was as ordered. It is a beauty! The only thing that I might complain a little about is the paint job – it is a little sloppy. But all in all – the frame is wonderful and to have ordered it directly from Mr Alberto Masi at his shop makes it even better.

There are more pictures of this frame and from the Masi shop here.

Very best regards


Stockholm, Sweden

Note: Eddy Merckx with his slotted chainstay Masi-made FAEMA

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  1. Great Story and pictures. Those chainstays are dropdead gorgeous.

  2. Very nice! There's something special about getting a bike from the guy who actually made it, one whose hand you can still shake.

  3. If Alberto doesn't have any more sets of decals, does this mean that the few sets that I have are the last original ones left?

  4. Hi Mr X
    I just wrote - this was the "last set of Prestige decals suited for a Champagne paint job". He has a lot of old decals suited for other colours. Not to mention all the modern replica decals. Also my comment only apply to the "Masi Prestige" down tube decal. I saw his stash of decals and it was big. When I said I wanted the Champagne colour and original old decals we had to search the stash for a long time before finding them.