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1989 Masi 3Volumetrica - with a twist

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1989 Masi 3Volumetrica - with a twist

Old 06-06-17, 02:54 PM
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styggno1
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1989 Masi 3Volumetrica - with a twist

I am seriously sick. Over and over again I tell myself not to get any more bikes. Regularly putting up restrictions for myself on ebay-cruising and other buy&sell sites. But every time I fall. Every time. And then I pick myself up again and promise to restrain myself better – over and over again…. But to no use. I am just like an alcoholic or junkie. I fool myself into thinking I can manage it. But I cannot and I do not.

This time I could not resist an Italian Masi 3Volumetrica. They are all special as examples of early oversize tubing steel frames - and this one maybe even more special than others.

Many of you probably know that the Italian Masi was not supposed to be sold in the US because of the whole thing with Faliero selling the US rights to the Masi brand name. Things are a little more complicated than that. There are two famous models that are Alberto’s own “babies” – the Prestige and the 3Volumetrica. For a while in the mid 80ies there was collaboration between the Italian Masi and the US Masi - and the Italian 3Volumetrica, during this period, came to the US thru “official” channels. In 1988-9 though this stopped for some reason and US Masi started to produce their own 3V (and these were made both in the US and by a subcontractor in Italy). Alberto, who still wanted access to the US market, got around this by selling them under the brand name “Milano” - thru Greg Honn of Milano Sport, Greenwich, CT, starting in 1989.

I do not know how common Milano branded, steel and internally lugged, 3Volumetrica: s are in the US but I reckon they do not show up very often. In Europe there are not supposed to be any at all. And then - how about the opposite - a Masi branded Milano? An anomaly, a fluke. Not meant to be.

A frame meant for the US market but somehow it got sidetracked at the very start. Somewhere before it got its paint and decals. Someone in Italy wanted a 3V and a Milano frame that was intended to go overseas took a “wrong” turn. It was labeled Masi and a “unicorn” was born.

It went straight into a collection in Italy, equipped with a Campagnolo 50th anniversary group, and there it stayed. It got very little use during these years. Until something happened, it was stripped of its components - and out for sale the frame went.

And there I happened to see it. Not buying anymore bikes (or at least trying very hard not to). I saw the ad and contacted Alberto. As I am a former customer I do have a line open to him. I also contacted Greg Honn. I asked some questions and things checked out. I could not resist. I just could not.

There were “buy it now” and a “make an offer” options. I bargained with myself and thought I showed a lot of restraint (internal negotiations) by making an offer that I thought the seller would not accept. He did. What can I say? I really tried not to. I took measures. I failed.

Built in June 1989 this Milano 314 got its red paint and Masi decals. There is, thru thorough research, no doubt this is the original paint and decals. An iconic Italian steel bike in a version that probably no one else has – how could I resist?! What more could one ask for?

The number “314” in itself is quite interesting and shows how difficult it is to get thru the historical haze that time puts over facts. When investigating, as close to the original sources as possible, things get complicated. Greg Honn says it derives from Pi – describing something round – and to a larger extent that the down tube on a 3Volumetrica is 31,4 mm in diameter. Greg also claims he gave this model its name. Looking at Milano Sports old website thru, for instance, Wayback machine the model is called “31.4 Original Volumetrica”. When talking to Alberto he says the number derives from the “314 American Flyer – a speedy American train”. This is intriguing as to my knowledge the 314 American Flyer is a toy train not a real train?

Who is right? Impossible for me to say. One or the other – both – or none? I am leaning towards Greg’s version. But it is really not important – the Milano 314 it says cast or pantographed on the lower head lug and that is it. And/or in this case it is a Masi 3Volumetrica Milano 314. Very probably the only one.



Dating an Italian Masi frame, post 1978, is quite straight forward. There are some odd numbers and letters here and there but the format is mostly predictable and understandable. From around 1978 there were three or four numbers - where the first two represents the year and the following numbers represents the month. In around 1991, though, one has to be aware of that the year and month shifts place/order. An 896 can be either June 1989 or August 1996. Then it comes down to what features the frame has – lugs, seatstay caps, decals, crown etc.

Mine is a June 1989 with all the right frame building parts for that period. This was a transition period when it comes to rear brake cable routing. Some has external and some has internal. I have collected pictures of Masi and Milano 3V from the period and there are examples of both. There was probably a choice between internal or external for quite a while. In the early transition period the internal routing entrances looked like this – with a small raised area:

Masi 3V 1988 (pics stolen from net):





Later most were smooth and level with the tube but some did actually protude - with a small tube-like fitting.

It is nice that Bob Hovey, in his Italian serial number data base, lists a Milano 3V built the same month, in the same size and the same letter code “V” - and just two numbers apart from my frame.



It has the same paintjob as this individual below – also with internal routing of the early kind. Note “Milano 314” on lower head lug.

Milano 3V 1989 (pics stolen from net):







Also note the fork crown, showing the stylized Milano dome on a slotted Italian fork crown. Differing from the Richard Sachs crown with the same logo that later was used on, for instance, the Masi Nuovo Prestige.

Separated at birth “015 V62 896” got Milano decals and went to the US and for some reason my “013 V62 896” was treated with Masi decals and found its home in Italy. One can only speculate how it came to be. I cannot help being fascinated by this. This was the first year for the Milano brand. Greg Honn comments on it as this - “Alberto used some lugs that were earmarked for me”.

Now this frame resides in Sweden and there is a twist to that too. In large parts it has been here before. The French oversize Excell tubing was made out of Swedish Sandvik steel. This is an Italian-American-French-Swedish concoction.

It came to me as a bare frame. I have done some very small paint touch ups and it then got a good rubbing and waxing. I built it with a period C-Record group. Early stamped cranks, rear derailleur is a “1.5” version with the machined slots, second generation deltas, Cinelli bar and stem, C-record “sheriff” hi flange hubs and Campagnolo Lambda V-section rims. Sachs Aris 7 freewheel and Regina SL chain. White Selle Italia Fausto Coppi edition saddle and Ciclo Linea pelten bar tape. White Campag cable housing, etc. All the white little details that were the rage in the late 80ies. Not very practical but I have a lot of the stuff and finally I got to use it on a bike. Pedals are 1992 Campagnolo Record Look.

There was a post the other day about the deltas and corresponding brake handles being fiddly to set up. I do not agree. I believe they are quite straight forward.

This is my fifth Italian Masi and it sort of wraps things up. One 1971 team bike, a couple of mid to late 70ies Prestiges, a Prestige built for myself in 2010 and then this late 80ies 3Volumetrica. I believe I am content now. When it comes to Masi: s…

Pictures of mine will follow in the next post.

Last edited by styggno1; 06-08-17 at 01:03 AM.
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Old 06-06-17, 02:56 PM
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Old 06-06-17, 03:09 PM
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Where the hell is that green with envy smilie?

Great score Styggno, resistance is futile.

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Old 06-06-17, 06:42 PM
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One of my "Moby Dick" grail bikes.......
Been hoping to own one since my brother and I saw one of the first ones imported into the US in a bike shop attic in the mid 80's shown only to the shop patrons with a sales person escorts, watching us closely, maybe just in case we steal or damage the ultra kool, rare frameset from Masi.
Had a few chances to buy one in the past few years, but had to back off because of extensive paint and rust issues which seem to plague these Volumetricas........ I'll keep looking, I know eventually I'll find the one for me......
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Old 06-06-17, 07:45 PM
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Oh my.....

Thank you for the great story and history of the model. It is quite special, even more so when it involves (well, to me, naturall) tall frames as I sort of think us tall guys were lucky to get whatever 25" we could from these storied makes.

Now I want to go ride my Masi!
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Old 06-06-17, 08:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Chombi1 View Post
One of my "Moby Dick" grail bikes.......
Been hoping to own one since my brother and I saw one of the first ones imported into the US in a bike shop attic in the mid 80's shown only to the shop patrons with a sales person escorts, watching us closely, maybe just in case we steal or damage the ultra kool, rare frameset from Masi.
Well, Styggy's sounding like he feels really guilty about this one, maybe you two should talk...?
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Old 06-06-17, 10:26 PM
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Nice looking bike, I have slowly collected a Corsa Record group set and have stayed short of the Delta brakes.
I have two Volumetricas of lower pedigree but I am happy with them both.
I like how they perform, the oversize tubes and chainstays improve stiffness say over a Prestige or GC, they weigh a bit less too. Took a while to adapt to the ring bulge at the tube termination, but so it is.
One is slightly smaller, my son will soon be riding it.
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Old 06-07-17, 07:38 AM
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Whoa, nice. I think this bike looks better with the C Record and Deltas vs the 50th Anniv. group it originally had.
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Old 06-07-17, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by RiddleOfSteel View Post
Oh my.....

Thank you for the great story and history of the model. It is quite special, even more so when it involves (well, to me, naturall) tall frames as I sort of think us tall guys were lucky to get whatever 25" we could from these storied makes.

Now I want to go ride my Masi!
Sorry to disappoint you - maybe... The "62" is actually just 60 cm c/c. Masi Italy measures c/"t-t" - yes "top-top" - to the very upper point/tip of the seat lug. I am 6 feet/183cm with longer than average legs and I use frames from 58 to 60 cm c/c depending on a lot of things. This bike is set up for me (of course) and as it is in the upper span of size l have chosen a shorter 95mm stem.

But even at only 6 feet I do understand your comment. As a bit taller than the average vintage biker (I mean those who bought pure race bikes in the 1950-80 era) I am happy every time I find a frame that fits me.

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Old 06-07-17, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
Nice looking bike, I have slowly collected a Corsa Record group set and have stayed short of the Delta brakes.
I have two Volumetricas of lower pedigree but I am happy with them both.
I like how they perform, the oversize tubes and chainstays improve stiffness say over a Prestige or GC, they weigh a bit less too. Took a while to adapt to the ring bulge at the tube termination, but so it is.
One is slightly smaller, my son will soon be riding it.
Thank you,
I am build-planning a 1985 De Rosa and I am going for Corsa Record but with Cobalto brakes and Super Record brake handles (with white hoods) on that one. If the bike is 1987-89 I believe there is another option that is often overlooked. Some pro teams used first generation Chorus brakes. I actually contemplated that option for this 3V but as I used the hi flange hubs I felt I needed to go "all in". If I had used low flange I would probably have used Chorus brakes. (I know I am a little bit anal...).

The first generation Chorus is a really nice brake. I just need the right bike and parts combo to do it.

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Old 06-07-17, 11:50 AM
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That truly is a beautiful bike. Something about the 3V has always bothered me, though. From the lack of traditional, hand-crafted lug work, I've always wondered why the frame is so expensive. wouldn't it be far easier to build avoiding traditional lug work?
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Old 06-07-17, 12:33 PM
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Beautiful bike, nice choices on the build. Thank you for the interesting back-story.

A minor aside - what type of cleats do the Campy pedals use? Look Deltas?
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Old 06-07-17, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Spaghetti Legs View Post
Beautiful bike, nice choices on the build. Thank you for the interesting back-story.

A minor aside - what type of cleats do the Campy pedals use? Look Deltas?
Thanks!

Yes, when Campag abandoned their lead filled SGR pedals they turned to LOOK for pedals. They are essentially re-branded LOOK with the corresponding cleats. They had this design circa 1992 until circa 1994. After that they got a tension adjuster knob at the back and are pointier in the front. Still LOOK though. I guess they stayed with LOOK until the pro fit pedals in circa 1997-8.
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Old 06-07-17, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by bassogap View Post
That truly is a beautiful bike. Something about the 3V has always bothered me, though. From the lack of traditional, hand-crafted lug work, I've always wondered why the frame is so expensive. wouldn't it be far easier to build avoiding traditional lug work?
I think the 3V Volumetricas was always mostly about the thin gauge OS tubing, which was unique when it came out. Sort of a cool counterpoint to the comparatively clunky oversized tubing on also then trending, aluminum bikes from Cannondale. The plainish straight ended lugs on the Volumetricas were almost just an afterthought, and most likely was only there as the thin tubing walls might have made it too hard to weld the frame together....
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Old 06-07-17, 09:44 PM
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Knowing how almost all of the Italian shops worked back in the day (and even today), this frame was more than likely ordered and partially paid for by Greg Honn with Alberto giving Greg some rather wishy-washy indication of an approximate delivery date. Then, somebody pops into the shop and says he doesn't want to wait for a frame to be built, so Alberto goes into the back and pulls out the newly finished unpainted frame and says that he can deliver the bike with the 50th anniversary gruppo in say two or three days. Alberto earns full retail on the bike with a high end gruppo and Greg sits on his hands waiting...

As far as the name goes, you can absolutely trust Greg's take on this. Alberto is a wonderful man but he has a hard time not replying to people and he has been known to make up alternative answers to questions, rather than say that he doesn't recall.
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Old 07-31-17, 03:39 PM
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My 89 3v

Scored off of Craigslist in 2007 like new barely ridden
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Old 07-31-17, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Citoyen du Monde View Post
Knowing how almost all of the Italian shops worked back in the day (and even today), this frame was more than likely ordered and partially paid for by Greg Honn with Alberto giving Greg some rather wishy-washy indication of an approximate delivery date. Then, somebody pops into the shop and says he doesn't want to wait for a frame to be built, so Alberto goes into the back and pulls out the newly finished unpainted frame and says that he can deliver the bike with the 50th anniversary gruppo in say two or three days. Alberto earns full retail on the bike with a high end gruppo and Greg sits on his hands waiting...

As far as the name goes, you can absolutely trust Greg's take on this. Alberto is a wonderful man but he has a hard time not replying to people and he has been known to make up alternative answers to questions, rather than say that he doesn't recall.
We are in the age of alternate facts. So, alternate answers, why not.
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Old 03-14-18, 09:02 AM
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Since it is the international Pi day today (14th of march) I have to post a pic of it in a bicycle context.

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