Celebrating Cicli Masi Ninety Year History

The weekend of July 30th and 31st 2016, marked a significant modern milestone for the Cicli Masi brand. Almost a year earlier, we embarked upon the “Legacy Project”, a series of different elements that combined to celebrate, promote and raise awareness of Masi’s Ninety Year history. The center point of the project would be a brand history book that recorded the story of Masi from its earliest existence in rural Florence, and through its Californian era in the early 1970’s. The research was some of the more challenging I have been involved with in my career. In some of the more candid moments, I tended to refer to the process as an “investigation”, such was the difficulty faced in unraveling a story that largely existed over eight thousand miles away, among people who had either passed away or were out of my immediate reach.

So, in the summer of 2015, I traveled to Milan. This journey became a mission to unearth the facts, but in reality, I returned with little more than a date of origination for the marque: 1926. In the months that followed, my fortunes began to change, as a research community consisting of European suppliers, industry accomplices of Faliero Masi and production staff from the company’s Californian era rallied for the cause, reaching back into their memories and archives with a level of enthusiasm that matched my own. The research began to quickly mount up. Stacks of hard copy photographs, hours of audio interviews and pages of translated emails began to weigh heavily on my office desk in Oregon, as did the numerous books I had ordered directly from the library in Florence. A lasting memory of the research period has me sat across the table in a coffee shop in Bend, pouring over text with an Italian language teacher from the local college. A good cup of coffee was never far away on this project.

I tended to refer to the process as an “investigation”, such was the difficulty faced in unraveling a story that largely existed over eight thousand miles away, among people who had either passed away or were out of my immediate reach.”

The book finally went to print in early July 2016, as we set our sites on creating a fitting crescendo to Masi’s ninetieth year in business. The same research community that rallied around the book project reassembled to assist us in delivering a weekend that professed to have something for “everyone that loved cycling”. As I stood on the stage at the Carlsbad Village Theater to welcome almost three hundred people to a charity screening of the movie “Breaking Away”, I saw Dennis Christopher, barreling down the aisle towards the stage with a look of pure excitement on his face. As Dennis introduced the profound piece of work that inextricably links him to the cycling world, I surveyed the faces in the audience, knowing that the emotion and energy I was witnessing was the embodiment of everything I love about the cycling community.

More than a year of research went into bringing to life the stories and legends of the Masi brand.
More than a year of research went into bringing to life the stories and legends of the Masi brand.
A required addition to the bicycling library.
A required addition to the bicycling library.
Ninety Years Of Masi by Dominic Phipps
Ninety Years Of Masi by Dominic Phipps

From the Theater, we headed across the 5 freeway to celebrate “Ninety Years of Masi” at the Grand Pacific Palisades Resort and Hotel. A small army of staff, enthusiasts, friends and family, transformed the ballroom at the property into a Masi museum. Over thirty vintage bikes, including some from as early as the 1950’s lined the walls and complemented the vintage jigs, alignment tables and manufacturing paraphernalia that former Masi trademark owner Ted Kirkbride, and Masi USA painter Jim Allen, had pulled from dark and dusty storage facilities. As the evening drew to a close, we began to tear down the museum and decorations that had combined to create a time capsule in this coastal hotel ballroom. Masi’s former Californian factory was less than two miles from the venue, and our next stop was the Campagnolo USA offices that were even closer.

It’s almost inconceivable to have a weekend like this without a bike ride of some description, and ride we did. On Sunday morning at 8AM, Tom Kattus from Campagnolo USA rallied his troops, our friends and the southern Californian cycling community to turn some miles in aid of the Pablove Foundation. A crew of somewhere near two hundred riders snaked down the PCH towards La Jolla, fighting childhood cancer with love, a little sweat and the unquestionable commitment for a good cause that bike riders, young and old, carry in their hearts. As the afternoon sun baked our tired legs, we ate pizza, drank beer and rung the sweat from our jerseys in a small parking lot in Carlsbad, CA. All was well in the world. -DP ( 90 Years of Masi $39.99 www.masibikes.com)

Photography: Pete Demos

Creative Director/Photographer @petecasso