Let's get this test ride going. Time is limited and so is the health of my left knee. An hour and half ride should give me a handle on what the Speciale Carbon has to offer. After making like Gumby and stretching my legs as per the PT at NovaCare, down the road and out to the river. Most of the route was rolling terrain, take on Turkey Hill which is a nice climb; about a mile at 8% average grade. The top has a nice quick steep pitch for the last pimp slap at your fitness.
My old road bike-1999 Schwinn Peleton 62cm traditional geometry, full Ultegra groupo, Mavic CXP22 hoops, Aluminum fork(ouch) and minor adjustments to the bar, seat and stem area to make it fit like teeth to gums for me. I transfered over the measurements to the new Masi. Only thing different is that I am a bit more stretched up top than the Schwinn. That's alright since my flexability should take it. Time pedals.
Masi does a nice job at retaining the unique fit that Faliero did long ago. Most bikes of 'equal' size are a tad shorter in the cockpit area compared to Masi's. This longer top tube can be attributed to shorter chain stays. A 56cm Masi Gran Corsa Premio has the same head and seat tube as a Jamis Comet 57cm. Only the Masi has a slightly longer top tube, shorter chainstays. In comparison regarding ride characteristics, the Masi flows into the corners at speed, smoothly and exiting as well. The Jamis, while nicely equiped componentry, enters the corner sheepishly and then WUMP! It is in the turn leaning. Not as graceful as the GCP. My take on the cornering difference is that the Masi has a shorter chainstay length. Sort of a 60/40 front to rear weight bias on the Masi that makes directional changes easier with slight input from the bars; be it leaning them or turning them more. Again, RD-400 hoops on the Masi, Easton Circuit on the Jamis, equal wheelsets by testing/comparo.
Speciale Carbon- steel front, carbon rear. aka; big bump compliance, stiff rear for accelerating and climbing. Who doesn't like a tight rear end anyway?! I backed out and put the OEM Shimano 550 wheels back on the SC. Only after riding the Easton Circuits first; Circuits spool up quicker than the 550's but maintained speed isn't all that off between the two. Noticeable but I'm not going to slight my inventory for the Italian bicycles waiting for these wheels. The breaking surface on the 550's is grippy compared to the Eastons. Shimano wins for halting the Masi quicker. No computer on the test ride-use the Force. Just hitting the old river route, watch on the wrist for 10 minute drink intervals. You know you know the route because water bottle consumption can be gauged by where I am on the road. Shifting the Ultegra group is cleaner than my 6 year old version on the Peleton. As it should. I still want more of a noticeable engagement at the lever like Dura-Ace has when selecting a lower gear. The compact drive is taking a bit to get used to; the spread of gearing at 50/34 up front at times left me wanting more top end when accelerating down hills. I am a snowboarder so yea, I like to crank down hills... Halfway through the ride, I realized that there is a 10 speed cassette back there. The selection of gears on the rear takes away the need to upshift two rings at once, more linear now.
I thought is was a windy day; looked up at the tree tops. No, branches are still, no blowing as thought by my ear turbulance. Oh yea, it's the bike. Lighter, quicker, more efficient and I like it! Driving the bike into the corners made me appreciate the carbon fork-EC70. Lean the bike with a bit of body english, plant the outside foot entering the turn, lean the bars inward while lifting the arse up slightly, keep the shoulders horizontal and chin up through the turns...Can you tell that I learned corning techniques from a slalom gate racer, huh? Hutchinson Fusion tires provide nice adhesion, confident cornering and a seemless rolling into the corner almost like a sewup. Hutchinson makes some of the best rubber out there for the money without putting down some large dollars for Vredisteins.
Fizik Arione saddle is the most comfortable saddle that I have ridden. 3/4 inch longer nose for those that need to scoot out there like Landis, long in the rear for guys that climb like big Al B. I like that much moving room. Carbon seat post for the reduction of vibrations to the rear end. Yea this bike rides like it should cost $900 bucks more than spec'd.
Insert rant here->:
Overall, Masi has definitly sold me the sausage with the sizzle. Brands that rely solely on their over marketed teams, corporate/shop monopolizing and sinking hype into their Kool-Aid customer's heads are missing out on a good fit and component package that works. I have ridden a 5500, 6.13. They aren't bad bikes, just not worth the dollars for what is sunk into their frame fabrication. Hell, Fuji which is a brand that isn't out there gaining a ton of cyclists votes, makes a FM carbon frame with Dura-Ace for Cat 1 racers. Parts are parts and you can hang D-A or Record on anything and make it look good. It's what the parts are hanging off of, that make the ride better, corner cleaner and the jump out of the saddle more explosiveness.
Turn off the t.v., talk to different..., NO wait, go ride different bicycles, study specs, geometry, learn why things tick the way they do, don't accept....'just because' b/c everything is what it is for a reason. Educate yourself through open debate and discussion with others. Listen to your second and third choices and know why they aren't number one not just because.
Remember, dead fish float with the stream.