BIKE TESTS: MASI GRAN CRITERIUM
November 9, 2010


Gracing the big screen in 1979, the Academy Award-winning Breaking Away still remains one of the greatest films about cycling ever made. Taking place in a small Indiana town outside Indiana University, actor Dennis Christopher (Dave Stoller) rode a 1978 Gran Criterium in the movie, which culminated in a personal battle between himself and the Cinzano Italian team (Christian Vande Velde’s dad was one of the Italian’s on a Colnago). Dave Stoller extols the virtues of the Gran Criterium in the movie: “It floats over small bumps...as if the bike is barely touching the ground.” Almost 40 years after the first Masi Gran Criterium graced the roads of the United States, the 2010 version emerges with a few new features. If you haven’t seen the movie, rent it. Actually, buy it. It will change your life and make you want to become Italian. And, it just may be the final push that convinces you to purchase the modern version of the Masi Gran Criterium.



THE FRAME
While the 1978 Gran Criterium used a Columbus lugged steel frame, the new version uses a Masi 7005-T6 SLX custom- formed aluminum frame, mated to VDS (Vibration Damping System) carbon seat stays and chainstays. The cockpit is handled by Ritchey Pro Logic bars, a Ritchey Pro 4-Axis stem and Masi SLR saddle with chromoly rails. The wheels are Ritchey Zeta Pros with Vittoria Rubino Pro tires. And, the paint and decals are vintage 1978 and look it. The build and geometry are traditional and tight, and help give the Masi handling to match its pedigree.


A head badge full of history to complement a modern bike.

THE RIDE
Sweet. Seriously. If you have the means, this bike is really fun to ride. So the history and the movie and the cool paint do play a part in the personality of the bike, but it is snappy, comfortable and more than able to handle anything you throw at it. SRAM Rival, for the price, continues to overachieve in the shifting department, and the bike just has a great feel to it. The Gran Criterium is part of Masi’s lore and, yes, you can spend hours upon hours reading about Masi history and the interplay between frame builders and who built what and when in Italy or San Diego.

But, if you didn’t know about Breaking Away, or realize the status of Masi not only in the minds of cycling historians but in the constant hunt for authenticity and classic bikes, the 2010 Gran Criterium will still impress you. We have a stable of bikes in the RBA compound, and few, if any, are as fun to ride at this price as the Masi Gran Criterium. It’s interesting to note that Breaking Away was the movie that got many bike industry veterans out on a bicycle for the first time or reminded them that a life of riding is a life worth living. Dave Stoller’s mom and dad say it best in a classic scene:

"Mom: He was very sickly until he started riding around on that bicycle.
Dad: Yeah...well...now his body is fine, but his mind is gone!"


House brand parts fill out the Gran Criterium's seating quarters.

BONUS POINTS
• Carbon rear triangle adds a modern ride quality.
• 40-year history of the model.
• Fun. Fun. Fun to ride.
• Troves of Masi lore to pour over on the Internet.
• The brown/orange paint and authentic decals.

THE STATS
Price: $2120
Sizes: 51, 53, 56, 58 and 60 centimeters
Weight: 18 pounds


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