Monday, February 18, 2008

Compare and Contrast

Late-80s DeRosa, Italian. Beautiful bike. Short-point lugs in a traditional manner, with chromed head lugs and fork crown. Campagnolo-equipped, of course.  A sturdy bike; look at that clamp-it's solid steel and probably won't ever break or deform.

Late-80s Masi 3V, Italian.  Though this and the DeRosa both have the traditional features of a little point on the top front and side-mounted seatstays, this cluster is a bit more modern than the DeRosa-its main triangle is internally lugged, enabling thinwall tubes which are in this case quite oversized, and the clamp bolt has been shrunken and recessed.  Perhaps all of these refinements owing to pressure from, or lessons learned in, the American market? Faliero Masi was in California for some years trying to set up a shop, so it's entirely conceivable that he might adopt an iconoclastic attitude compared to the more traditional and conservative Italian national builders. Someone's motto "innovate or die" comes to mind, which since at least 1776 has been sort of an American Way of Thinking. It is said of some European manufacturers, on the other hand, that they do things a certain way because their fathers did it, and their fathers' fathers before that, etc., perpetuating in a way the system of guilds and apprenticeships found in some cases for many centuries past ("If it was good enough for _____, it's good enough for me").
This frameset is reputed by its owner to be very rigid.  The bike is Campy-equipped (of course), with the awesome and maddening Delta brakes.

Late-80s Centurion, Japanese. Attractive bike. A well-built, functional, inexpensive copy. Nice shapes, well-done lining and pinstriping, excellent paint. Dia-Compe, SR, Suntour-equipped.  The size of the lugs and the white lining look British to me, the scooped outside-mounted stay is Italianate, the lack of a top point lazy French, and that fragile little excuse for a clamp is all Japanese and bent, the fatal flaw.

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