Cicli Masi’s roots go back to Faliero Masi, who commenced making bicycle frames at the Vigorelli Velodrome in Milan in the 1950s, after a career as a professional racer and team mechanic. Many well-known and successful professional cyclists of the era rode Masi bikes, such as Antonio Maspes, Fausto Coppi, Tom Simpson, Felice Gimondi, Jacques Anquetil and Eddy Merckx.
In 1973 Faliero’s son Alberto took over the Vigorelli shop. Faliero and two assistants went to the US and began production at a new facility in Carlsbad, California after selling the “Cicli Masi” name and trademark to an American businessman, Roland Sahm.
Later, Faliero returned to Italy. Disputes over volume production caused a break in relations between Masi and the US Masi investors. The ownership of the US trademark remained with the US operation, so the Masi family were unable to sell bikes in the US under their own name.
Faliero Masi died in 2000. The business was taken over by his son Alberto who learned everything there was to know about bikes and bike building from his father. When he was 16, he was Fausto Coppi’s mechanic at the Giro d’Italia. In 1982, he built the first bike made with oversized and ovalized tubes – the Volumetrica. Alberto Masi would later release bikes into the US under the “Milano 3V” name, he built about 500 handmade bikes per year. The U.S. rights to the Masi name and logo are now owned by Haro Bikes.
Because Cicli Masi is completely separate from Masi USA, there can be a lot of confusion about the origin of a bike – whether it was actually built by Faliero or Alberto Masi, or by Masi USA. To complicate the things further, some Masi USA frames are actually built in Italy, but not by Masi.
If you want to know if you have an Italian or American Masi built after 1973, it’s all in the numbers. Italian built bikes have the frame size stamped on the bottom bracket and sometimes a matching size stamp and date stamp on the head tube. American made Masi’s have a serial number (with a few exceptions) or a serial number and frame size stamp. All Gran Criteriums built after 1978 are the U.S. made. And today, all frames made by Alberto Masi have his sign.