Monday, August 3, 2009

Confente no. 57

Confente no. 57 came up for sale in an ebay listing this past week with a starting price of $13,500. The listing was ended, it's unknown if the bike sold at that price or was sold at all.

The listing text:
Mario Confente, bike #57
55.5 frame
Cinelli bar
Campagnolo Super Record
Saddle: 3ttt SL

My step dad’s brother (second generation Italian-American) was an enthusiastic rider. Living in Long Beach, California, my uncle apparently heard of the young Italian frame builder. I came to own the bike in December 1982 when my uncle passed away. In clearing out his apartment, my wife and I saw over seven bikes in various stages of assembly. Clearly, the most impressive of the four or five fully assembled bikes (except for tires) was the Confente USA. I remember being struck by the colors, amazing frame quality, impressive cutouts and attention to detail. I remember my uncle riding his bikes down to Garden Grove from Long Beach on a somewhat regular schedule but never saw the Confente. I don’t know how often he rode the Confente but I do know he took great care with all his bikes. The bike has been displayed in my home since 1982 and NEVER been back on the road. To say it’s in exceptional condition may be a true understatement.

Photos: photos from ebay listing

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  1. It didn't sell. It clearly wasn't worth the Buy It Now, but of course this ebay listing will inevitably contribute to the Confente lore and upward movement of prices. The next few Confente bikes to appear for sale will undoubtedly be listed with unrealistic prices and will reference this ebay auction. (Two of the "Best Offers" on the ebay auction were mine).

  2. This is a lovely Confente bike, in a good size, albeit with an apparently original, monochrome, slightly thick, white finish, no chrome, and yet classically simple elegance.
    Its condition is excellent and the serial number places it a good period of Confente's production.
    The panotgraphed parts are the sticking point. They may be alien to the frameset and don't appear to be the work of Confente's pantogapher Grant (Apollo Engraving).
    Allegedly, the bike was withdrawn from sale.
    There is no reason to believe that this abortive offering will influence future Confente prices.
    Each bike stands on its own merits.
    George Hollenberg MD

  3. As Mario Confente's partner at Custom Bicycles by Confente, the original painter of this bike and with the original order card in hand, I can confirm that this frame is in original condition.

    The bike is NOT white. It was originally ordered as white with a yellow head tube as was Mario's personal bike that was on display in the shop. The owner later called and changed the color. I remember the call, because I was uncomfortable with his description of "off-white or tan" as they were two very different things to me. To agree over the phone on a color I looked around for something we could use as a reference and asked if the color of a file folder was about right. He agreed... and so it is.

    Thick? Confentes were painted using Imron and so their paint is thicker than Raleighs or other mass produced bikes of the day, but the paint is superior, and exactly as it should be.
    "Good period for Confente production"? George, this is not a Masi or other company with multiple builders, subcontractors or specifications over the years. Mario built frames under his name for less than two years and built every one personally. The "0" series built as Farrier's shop were every bit a nice as the first ones. The only other craftsmen involved were the painters, either I or John at Apollo, and while I did paint most of Mario's bikes including this one, John's work was just as good.
    No need to speculate about "alien" origin of the engraved parts. Purchased as a frame with headset and bottom bracket, this frame was built with parts from the Colnago it replaced.
    The owner, son in law of the original owner put the bike on ebay "to learn more about it". I received many inquiries about it and the owner soon called as well. I was able to answer all his questions and provided additional background. When he told me that the bike was absolutely not for sale I pointed out that in the unlikely event that someone stepped up to his high "buy it now" price, he would be contractually required to complete the sale. I agreed it was unlikely, but as I had just sold a Confente which had been delivered complete and with correct engraved parts, rare Confente jersey and complete documentation for MORE than his buy it now, and the buyer had asked me about others, it was possible. He closed the auction to prevent the unwanted sale. The bike is currently in my shop having received as very minor paint retouch, a full service and a written evaluation, and copies of if it's original documentation. It is NOT for sale.