Monday, December 20, 2010

A Part of the Confente and Masi History

The following self-explanatory comments were left in a forum (unknown date) in response to a previous comment (also unknown):


"My name is Ted Kirkbride. I have been continuously involved with the Masi bicycle company since the Masi name was purchased in the early 70's. There have been been only 3 owners of the Masi trademark.

Faliero Masi of course, Roland Sahm who purchased the trademark when Faliero moved his company to the United States and finally I am the current owner. At the very beginning of the sale of the trademark, in 1972, I was a consultant for Roland Sahm for the establishment of a frame building operation in the United States.

I worked at the very start with Faliero in setting up the Carlsbad operation. The original intention was to train American frame builders but it soon became apparent that this could not be achieved in a short time frame. So, we brought 3 Italian frame builders who had built for Masi in Italy. After the factory was up and running, the only Italian builder who stayed in the US was Mario Confente. One of the first major innovations that came out of our U. S. frame shop was the fully investment cast lugs.

We sent Mario to Microfusione in Italy to have our original idea of investment cast lugs made. The Italian company, Microfusione, was not able to produce the lugs without the help of its US licensee who had the expertise to produce the thin walled technology. Mario advised that the lugs not be made in Italy since the ideas would most likely be copied by other Italian companies. His prediction soon came true as our $80,000 investment in developing the tooling to produce the lugs was soon being used by other major Italian manufacturers. We were the first company to put into production the fully investment cast lugged tubed frame. Our pioneering efforts soon became the industry standard.

In 1975, Mario Confente went out on his own to build his bicycles under his own name. In 1979, Mario Confente asked to come back and work for Masi. In the process of setting up his shop with us, he passed away. In fact, the morning Mario died of a massive heart attack he was scheduled to meet Rene Moser, the general manager of Masi at the time, to go pick up a new granite surface plate. Back to 1976. In this year, Mike Howard built frames and Brian Baylis painted the Masi frames.

It was in 1977 that the Carlsbad factory began a transfer to the San Marcos, California facility. During that time Albert Eisentraut built about 50 frames to fill a gap during our move. Keith Lippy became a principal frame builder from 1977 to 1978. Rob Roberson also built our frames during this time. One of the special bikes that we made during this time required several pairs of forks. This of course was the now famous bike ridden in the Oscar nominated movie "Breaking Away."

In 1978, I took full control of Masi frame building. Jim Allen took charge of the painting operation. Also in 1978, Dave Moulton and I became the main frame builders. It was around 1984/1985 that Joe Starck replaced Moulton as one of the principal builders.

I continued to build special team frames and oversee that the qualities and traditions of the Masi frames were maintained. During the mid 1980s, I became the owner of the Masi trademark. This is just a brief history of Masi USA frame building. The information on your page regarding serial numbers while some of it is correct the majority of the information is erroneous. On our web site, www.masibikes.com, we intend to produce more details and we will keep you posted.

With regard to the Italian Masi page. I would like to clear up a few errors. First of all, there were no "nefarious business dealings" on our part in acquiring the Masi trademark. Faliero Masi was paid $175,000 for the trademark, plus he was paid a salary to oversee the running of the operation and a royalty for every frame that was made. In today's dollars that would probably be a million dollar deal. In fact, the nefarious business dealings came from Italy. During the final negotiations for the trademark deal with Faliero Masi, Alberto Masi tried to prevent the deal by claiming the trademark as his own. In the end, the deal was a huge compensation for all the years of hard work Faliero put in to building a reputation that we here in the United States have done well to live up to. Finally, with regard to the Lokoshinx (correct spelling) team that rode our bikes to World and Olympic gold medals, it was I who specially built their bikes not Masi Italy.

I hope this information is helpful in your efforts to keep accurate information about classic bicycles. In the future, I'd be happy to verify any information regarding Masi bicycles built since 1973. Thank you very much.

Regards,
Ted Kirkbride"

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2 comments:

  1. An interesting commentary. I own a California-built 1981 Masi Gran Criterium, and Dave Moulton wrote to me that he built Masi frames there until 1981, at which point the inventory had grown to the point where he brazed himself out of a job! At that point, he went out on his own. My Masi is a superb bike, described as the most Italian of American bicycles. Falieri Masi did not limit himself to Italian products and the bike is made of Reynolds 531 tubing.

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  2. @sprocketboy: I don't have a Masi but I do have a "dave moulton" !

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