MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

 

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MY "TEN SPEEDS"

 

MASI GRAN CRIT - INTRO

FINDING THE MASI

TEST RIDING THE MASI

FITTING THE GRAN CRIT 

 

BICYCLES OF ITALY

 

FITTING THE MASI

At 52cm(c-c), the Masi is the smallest bicycle that I have attempted to fit to my body size.  When I first started riding vintage road bicycles, I tended to opt for bikes in the 58-60cm range feeling that they were a touch more comfortable than smaller bikes.  However, as I learned to understand ride quality, I moved, in increments, to smaller and smaller frame sets.  At the time of this writing, a 54cm seat tube, measured center to center, is the perfect size for me.  At 52cm, the Masi had fallen a touch short of the mark.  I had to dig deep into the Bag of Fit tricks that one has to work with when there is nothing to work with.  Keep in mind that fit involves things that cannot always be measured, comfort being one of them.

With comfort in mind, the Cinelli track bars to go!  At 38cm, they were just too narrow and there was no flat spot on the bar tops to comfortably rest my hand position.  It took little time each ride before I began to feel pain in the heels of my hands.  Though I should have known better, I decided to install an already assembled handlebar and stem set that had been sitting in The Old Shed for a year or two.

The Primo Extra Giro di Sicilia handlebars, fitted with Campagnolo Barcon shifters, had arrived in my backyard one day, attached to a BF stem mounted on 1971 Carlton Professional.  Though the Carlton Pro is long gone, the bars and shift levers remained tucked away in The Old Shed, waiting for a worthy host.  And that host did come along one day.  A mid-seventies Super Mondia Special purchased for $40.00 a few years earlier.  For poor fit reasons, the Super Mondia was passed on to another owner but the bars, TTT Record Stem and Campy Barcon shifters, complete with shift cables and bar tape, went back into The Old Shed, once again to wait for a worthy bicycle to be mounted on.  And the Masi was to be the new host for a couple of reasons...

The handlebar/stem/shifter set was already built up and ready to install.  I did wonder if I was wasting my time since the drop in the bar set is great, to say the least.  In fact, the drop is too great, but I spend little time in the drops these days, anyways.  Besides, if the bars were not to my liking, I could simply changed them out.

The second reason I selected the deep drop bar set was because of the shifters installed.  I love the way the Barcon shifters work and think that they would add considerably to the "user friendliness" of the Masi.  I must admit that the extra cables do add a wee bit of clutter to an otherwise pretty clean front end, but the resulting improved shifting would make up for any aesthetic concerns.  Whether or not the bars would remain was still debateable but the Barcons would remain installed if I decided to keep the Masi.

Another set of wheels was mandatory for any kind of test riding to continue.  The tubular tire on the "as found" wheel set blew up upon pressurizing.  The first set of substitute wheels installed, a Campy Tipo high flange hub set laced to Super Champion tubular rims proved to be a poor choice since the front wheel had a flat spot that created pretty nasty brake shudder at low speeds and risk to life at high.  With that in mind, I selected a set of wheels that had arrived on my 1975 CCM Tour du Canada.

Those wheels, Campagnolo NR high flange hubs laced to mismatched tubular wheels, proved to work just fine but would benefit from a good cleaning, followed by an application of fresh lubricant.  They were, however, in very good condition and ready to be installed.  But the tires were old, showed their age in the form of cracks in the rubber and did little to instil confidence.  I was soon to find out that even this nice old wheel set was not to be considered for the final restoration.  The rear wheel rim had a patterned braking surface that buzzed when the brakes were applied.  I do not like noisy bikes so the patterned rim would have to go.

The last re-fitment issue was the crank set.  At the onset of the build and since no proper Campy bottom bracket(pre-1978 bottom bracket spindle required) made its presence known, the "as found" Custom crank/ring set would remain installed for test riding purposes.  Though performance would be minimally impaired, the set was certainly good enough to allow for test ride and any additional "fitting" changes that might prove necessary.  Fortunately, a short while after testing began, a friend dropped off a lovely pre-78 NR bottom bracket.  The Campy cranks were installed the next day.  The question is , why are cranks a fitting issue?

Every trick must be employed to get the Masi to fit.  With that in mind, the Campy cranks set, coming in a 172.5mm, 2 1/2mm longer than the "as found" set, might add just that wee bit extra to help optimize fit.

With all of the items mentioned fitted, it was time to take the Masi out for another test ride - or two.

     

To say the least, the Masi is pretty incredible.  I am probably never going to be able to describe what it is that makes a vintage road bicycle's ride really special to me but whatever kind of magic it is, the Masi has it.  I have owned/ridden some pretty decent vintage road bicycles, including Pinarello, Atala, Carlton, Bianchi, Peugeot, Miyata and Marinoni but few can compare with the quality of the Masi ride.  Though the handlebar drops are too deep and the steering stem a touch too long, the bicycle feels perfect.  I can honestly say that I have never said that about any other vintage road bicycle that I have owned or ridden.  I cannot wait to fully restore and ride this wonderful old Italian steed.  For the time being, however, and as long as the approach of winter will permit, I intend to ride this lovely old bicycle every chance I get before putting it away for the Winter and complete restoration.

 

 

 

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