I have to say it was an honer and a privileged to spend the day in the company of Masi and Simone this year in Milan. I learnt so much in such a short period of time. I didn’t really get to make many notes, but thought some of you might like to read my scribblings.
Faliero Masi commenced making bicycle frames at the Vigorelli Velodrome in Milan in the 1950s, after a career as a professional racer and team mechanic.
In 1973 his son Alberto took over the Vigorelli shop and has been
working there ever since. The shop which is tucked away under the
velodrome is like a tardis, from the outside it doesn’t look that big,
but the machines and history go on for decades.
Simone now makes a great deal of the frame under a very watchful eye. Having originally been trained by Dario Pegoretti he moved to Masi some years ago. Between them they can easily build 10-15 frames a month depending on orders. The old frames, parts and machines have a history in themselves. Some of these have belonged to cycling legends over the past half century I am told.
As I spend the day learning new skills I find it hard to believe that a jig is never used, not even for a fillet brazed frames. I get instructed that if the tubes are cut correctly then you should never need one. Tacking the frames so that everything can be checked, working in the right order and soon you will have the perfect frame. I smile and agree.
Simone is starting yet another frame. A wonderful steel lugged frame with cut outs in the chain stays. He tells me the hours he spends just filing and shaping making sure each component is perfect. Each step of the way checking to see that everything is aliened. To my astonishment everything lines up perfectly. The boxes of parts that are hidden away in draws date back to the 1970’s. Some of the requests are for replica frames that Alberto built back when he took over from his father.
The workshop is a cave of curiosities. Everywhere you look you discover more and I find it hard to keep focused as I learn more about the skills I have picked up. Discovering how a frame should feel, ride and react. Having been cycling since I was a child I awake with fresh eyes to something that has been staring in me in the face for years. You are never too old to learn new skills and new ways of doing things.
While Alberto is on the phone Simone shows me around, some of the frames that have been built for Eddy Merckx, Coppi and other legends of the sport are hung up like a mini museum. Boxes of vintage parts from Campagnolo sit on the floor while in cupboards hidden gems sit waiting for their new owners.
Due to Masi’s wife being ill he is called away. I know my day with them is drawing to a close, but I have to say that it is a day I will remember all my life.