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1975 Masi Gran Criterium

Old 11-08-11, 03:16 PM
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1975 Masi Gran Criterium

Hi everyone,
52cm Masi Gran Criterium. I’ve been perusing the BF threads, and spent some time at Bob Hovey’s website trying to date the frame and learn what I can about it.

The BB serial number 0188 makes it (approximately) the 1213th California Masi, built in Carlsbad in 1975. I had first thought it was a later vintage because of the brazed-on top tube guides and shifter bosses, which appear in the catalogs starting in 1977. And the fire-engine red color first appears in the 1976 catalog. But the braze-on’s and the non-standard color were also available earlier as custom options. The finish looks original, at least to my untrained eye: the decals seem to be the old water-slide type, and the finish is not overly glossy. If it was refinished, it seems like it could have done it at the factory. Here are some other details:

Original fork, stamped MC52 0188, no signs of different paint.
Reynolds stamp on fork steerer.
Fischer BB ++GF++.
Pressed seat lug, I’m not sure about the others.
Slotted fork crown with Masi shield.
The fork crown is painted, and I don’t see any chrome underneath.
The down tube lettering is all yellow rather than different colors.
World Champion stripes on the seat tube, boxes facing left.
Faliero signature on the left side of the top tube.

It’s in pretty good shape. The frame is straight with good threads, and no dents, dings, rust, or any structural damage is visible. There are some sizeable scratches here and there, mostly on the lower forks and under the down tube, although the logos are in good condition and overall I think it’s quite presentable. I’m going to leave it as it is. It’s way too small for me and too large for my wife, although my youngest son will be growing into it soon. Jeez, I wish MY dad had given me a Masi for my first 10-speed. On second thought, maybe that’s not such a hot idea—I remember what happened to the first 10-speed my dad actually did give me (parked car, shortened wheelbase). So I may sell or trade it later on.

I stripped it for cleaning and inspection, then put on some spare Nuovo Record parts just to see how it looks (great of course) and to make it feel more comfortable.

A few questions for the cognoscenti:
What is the BB threading? I need to remove the fixed cup.
Opinions on the braze-on’s and finish?
Any ideas who the builder(s) would have been?
What’s the frame worth?

I couldn’t get my camera to focus correctly for the close-up pictures, but they’ll give you an idea.










Last edited by kroozer; 11-10-11 at 09:28 AM. Reason: reposting pix
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Old 11-08-11, 05:37 PM
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I would guess this is a repaint, with braze-ons added at that time. The decal colors are not right for 1975 (should be yellow and white).

I can't see the fork details in the pictures. Is the fork crown engraved with the Masi crest? Is it slotted (sort of like a fake double plate crown)? This model typically has the chromed flat Fischer crown.

The BB is Italian.

Too hard for me to peg a value. This being not original paint, it really needs a repaint ($$$). I am curious about the fork, as I have heard about '75 GC's with crested fork, but have never seen one myself.

Last edited by MetinUz; 11-08-11 at 06:43 PM. Reason: Fork crown is Fischer, not Wagner
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Old 11-08-11, 07:34 PM
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While color evaluation from an unknown source and over the web is treacherous at best, I think it is a repaint too.
Now what IS unusual is a serial number on the fork steerer. With that in mind remove the seat post and image the inside of the seat tube looking forward and down into the tube where the top tube intersects.
The top tube cable guides are of the type seen later, not at Carlsbad.
I vote repaint.
The fork is interesting, not many got this crown here. How wide are the fork blades just below the fork blade reinforcements? Also, what do those reinforcements look like? Also, remove the brake and check for chrome underneath the mounting region of the brake.
While you are at it, image the fixing side of the rear brake.
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Old 11-08-11, 08:11 PM
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My wife just left for a conference and I won't have the camera till this weekend.
But I checked inside the top of the seat tube, and it's solid-- there´s no drilling where the top tube joins it. I assume that's what you were looking for?
The fork crown has the Masi crest. It looks like the flat, slotted Fischer crowns on other bikes, except that it's painted. There is no chrome, just dull metal, where the brake bolt holes are. Looks like it was never chromed.
The fork tangs are about 7cm long, as measured from the bottom of the crown. The tangs are in 2 parts, a short wide one at the top, and then the rest of the triangle. 3 holes of different sizes drilled in each tang.
Just below the tangs, the forks are about 57mm apart.
I can't image the fixing side of the rear brake, but what would I look for there?
I'll see if I can borrow a camera from someone.
Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 11-08-11, 09:46 PM
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From your report it is a production bike, not that that is a problem, Confente was running the show at the time this frame was built. What is interesting is while the seat lug is stamped, that it has the Italian investment cast crown and may not have been chromed, but could of course been blasted upon repaint. This crown was used on the Prestige out of Italy primarily, only a small number it appears show up on a Carlsbad built bike. The reason for repaint is that the single color downtube graphics where both Masi and Gran Criterium were in both yellow was not produced till 1981. Also, in 1975 the bikes got MASI AMERICA seat tube bands.
A VERY few Carlsbad built frames were made with allen key brake fittings. For an example one could navigate to the Rydjor website museum section. Allen key brake attachments would not be a Masi USA feature till '81. Could be stock, could have been modified at the repaint.

The blade dimension was the actual width of the an individual fork blade, small chance he fork has Columbus blades instead of Reynolds.
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Old 11-09-11, 08:32 PM
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So, the crown is not a Fischer, but rather a different, Italian piece?
I don't have a way to accurately measure the fork thickness.

What could I ask for the frame as it now is? One one hand it's a Masi GC from the Confente era, has some of the earlier characteristics, is in very good structural condition, and is a good size. On the other hand it's likely had braze-on's added and been repainted, and has some big scratches. Would it help to touch up the scratches (I think I already know the answer to this one...)?
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Old 11-09-11, 09:53 PM
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Microfusione cast the fork crown in Italy.
With a head on image of the fork it may be possible to tell if it has Columbus fork blades, they were wider than the typical Reynolds blades used in production at Carlsbad.
The rear brake bridge may also have been modified, maybe not. That is why I asked for an image of the fastener side of the brake bridge.
I am pretty confident the top tube cable guides are after the fact additions.
Coin toss if the down tube shifter braze ons are original, as it was an option, (well hidden, it was not promoted at the time).
One other image worth looking at would be the back side of the seat lug below the seat post binder ears.

Get those and I will give you an opinion. Otherwise, it's roll the ebay dice and the dice might be loaded.
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Old 11-10-11, 12:55 PM
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Thanks EP, got it fixed.
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Old 11-12-11, 07:52 PM
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I had a '79 Blue Gran Criterium I got right from the operations in California- was it Carlsbad? Near San Diego but back in the mountains- great bike-mine was 59cm.

Just from memory and the looks of the decals- I believe this one to be earlier than that- that's all I can say. The equipment may be a mixed bag, and probably more frames were sold then than complete bikes- almost everybody racing used Campy Nuovo Record until the Super Record line came out about '78- as far as the flush brakes and all, those could have still been added later- I've drilled out stuff to put in recess bolts- so the crankset looks very up mid '70's, but still largely used especially in frame builds for a long time. The top of the fork crown of mine was no longer etched like yours and the largness of the decals was toned down a bit.

there were some stories I heard back then about the production of Masis- I think I heard that there were actually maybe two generations of builders in California and by the time I got mine, some sort of reorganization or relocation had occurred- I was never sure of the details, now largely forgotten.

I do recall the first Masi I saw, at a race in Forest Mississippi in 1973, ridden by Captain Jim Montgomery of Team Army- he finished behind John Howard who was pipped at the line by my fraternity brother 19 year old Wayne Stetina in a 35 mile criterium we rode on spring Break training. I thought the name was 'Mash" like the movie- They were really pretty rare through the '70's, so the earlier yours is, the more rare I think. I got mine on the cheap after doubling Dennis Christopher in Breaking Away, for a promotional tie-in- and fitted it with super Record stuff- really beautiful bike I rode until I retiired in '84. Don't have any good pictures of it unfortunately. Threw it in a front yard in Santa Monica and drove away one day about 1985 when I'd had enough cycling for awhile.
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Old 11-12-11, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by harpon View Post
I had a '79 Blue Gran Criterium I got right from the operations in California- was it Carlsbad? Near San Diego but back in the mountains- great bike-mine was 59cm.

Just from memory and the looks of the decals- I believe this one to be earlier than that- that's all I can say. The equipment may be a mixed bag, and probably more frames were sold then than complete bikes- almost everybody racing used Campy Nuovo Record until the Super Record line came out about '78- as far as the flush brakes and all, those could have still been added later- I've drilled out stuff to put in recess bolts- so the crankset looks very up mid '70's, but still largely used especially in frame builds for a long time. The top of the fork crown of mine was no longer etched like yours and the largness of the decals was toned down a bit.

there were some stories I heard back then about the production of Masis- I think I heard that there were actually maybe two generations of builders in California and by the time I got mine, some sort of reorganization or relocation had occurred- I was never sure of the details, now largely forgotten.

I do recall the first Masi I saw, at a race in Forest Mississippi in 1973, ridden by Captain Jim Montgomery of Team Army- he finished behind John Howard who was pipped at the line by my fraternity brother 19 year old Wayne Stetina in a 35 mile criterium we rode on spring Break training. I thought the name was 'Mash" like the movie- They were really pretty rare through the '70's, so the earlier yours is, the more rare I think. I got mine on the cheap after doubling Dennis Christopher in Breaking Away, for a promotional tie-in- and fitted it with super Record stuff- really beautiful bike I rode until I retiired in '84. Don't have any good pictures of it unfortunately. Threw it in a front yard in Santa Monica and drove away one day about 1985 when I'd had enough cycling for awhile.
Carlsbad was long shut down in 1979. Most likely picked up in Rancho Santa Fe or at Ted Kirkbride's shop. Both inland.
The transfers on the original poster's frame are from the 80's, indicated by a number of details. The bike has been repainted.
As Carlsbad was shutting down, and with no exact plan to start up again at the time, Keith Lippy and Albert Eisentraut were contracted to build bikes for Masi USA. Both did do some building but not for very long. Ted Kirkbride also built some later.
In the 80's there were two workshops building for Masi with some shared effort.
I could leave a snippy remark about the disposal of the bike you owned, but will refrain from doing so. I kept mine and am quite happy I did not sell them in the 80's.
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Old 11-14-11, 08:53 AM
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Rancho Santa Fe it was, yes- I recall it now and that by then it had reorganized- I also remember "the talk" of the day, the ever present talk went something like the European Masi was somehow considered superior to the American ones, and so the reorganization-

of course that was just from a bunch of bike riders, so who knows?

as for the "disposal" of my bike, snip away. I'm thinking it may have some typically Politically Correct scolding both about my personal responsibility and might include some accusations as to streetdrug and/or prescription medicine.

I'll just say that my life at the time had a lot of other issues, and at that particular moment I was regretting the paths I'd followed in my younger days- not the least being my 14 years of USCF racing, from which I still suffer injuries,

only enhanced by the renewed 1950-ish "get-a-job" and push-push-push mentality of young agggressive fascist zealots obbsessed with the absurd political whims of this pathetic last decade or so, especially.

With my mighty Scwhinn Varsity at our high school race- 1971
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Old 11-14-11, 12:37 PM
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The complaining of those who thought the Milan bikes were superior came from bike shops that did not sell the Masi brand.
When that did not work, they complained that the American Bikes had Reynolds tubing.
Most did until after Calrsbad. Columbus was gaining favor, the Columbus forks appeared more beefy, racers liked beefy.
When the Masi America seat tube bands appeared, and the Milano was removed from the badge graphic, there was an attempt to differentiate the factory.
After Carlsbad, there must have been some reconsideration, and the graphics associated with Italy returned. That was not the cause of sluggish sales, the road bike market was saturated, bike sales in the USA were falling fast, juvenile bikes kept the unit count up.
Racers are also fickle, if everyone has the bike you ride, you have no edge, if yours is different, YOU might have an edge.
Masi's sales problem was a production problem, the factory did not get up to speed fast enough when demand was high, quality won out, and that did not help the bottom line.
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Old 11-14-11, 05:02 PM
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I have to believe that the release of Breaking Away in the early summer of 1979 must've added quite a bit to the name recognition- I don't know how you know so much about the brand- it had a prestigious name, but as I said, was quite a rare bird through the '70s. But you're right about the tubing- it was near the end of the '70's that a lot of builders started mixing different kinds of tubing in their frames- and for the first time in years there wasn't either a Reynolds or a Columbus sticker-on a whole lot of bikes then,\. My Masi had no sticker and though the main tubes were Columbus, I was told it had a mixture- and I never knew exactly what, where.

I was happy to get off my Exxon Graftek proto-type, which were the original carbon fiber frames, because mine always pulled to the right, and the Masi felt much more stable after a couple of years on it, although it still had a steel fork.
I thought back on the my experience with the movie, and at the end of filming they offered me one of the Masi frames- I turned it down because it was two sizes too small and annoying while doubling, without giving a thought to the resale value- It was years later that I realized how strange that was I'm just weird that way sometimes

I snapped this picture of Dennis Christopher on the first day of shooting at the quarry
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Old 11-15-11, 02:07 PM
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Originally Posted by harpon View Post
...

I was happy to get off my Exxon Graftek proto-type, which were the original carbon fiber frames,...
Exxon frames were not the first, I would probably give that nod to Raleigh, who made a few prototype Carbon Carlton frames in like 1971 or '72. In 1975 I raced against a guy who had a oversized carbon tubed welded aluminum lugged bike made in San Diego, Graphite USA or Composite USA was the name, the company was underfunded and folded unfortunately. The bike was a better solution than Graftek or what Mossberg had done.

Graftek did last longer as a producer, but they did not exploit the material and the quality of the welded lugs was very variable. The carbon wrapped steel forks were just silly.
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Old 11-15-11, 06:46 PM
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OK, here are a couple more close-up's, of the rear of the seat lug and the inside of the rear brake bridge. I measured the forks with a set of open box wrenches, right below the tangs they're between 16mm and 17mm wide.




Also, there's a (really nice looking) '75 Masi GC on Ebay right now that looks exactly like mine as far as the paint and logos go, that one is supposedly a repaint.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/280770786993...84.m1423.l2649
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Old 11-15-11, 09:51 PM
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My original reply vanished. Basically, the seat lug is stamped, (popular with many) the image won't enlarge enough to tell about the rear brake bridge.
The bike you linked to is repainted.
At the minimum $800 for yours as a frame and fork, could go higher, all depends on who wants it at the same time.
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Old 11-16-11, 10:12 PM
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Here's a bigger, if not better, view of the brake bridge, if that's any help...
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Old 12-12-11, 07:32 PM
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The rear brake bridge has been abused it appears. Rydjor has in their virtual museum a Carlsbad bike with a factory brake allen key fitting.
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