Masi and the Velodrome Vigorelli

History lives and breaths in the walls of the Masi shop located at the Velodrome Vigorelli. If you are interested in Italian cycling heritage, a visit is worth your time.

Text: Silje Strømmen
Photos: Mari Oshaug

If you are looking for one proof of Italy and Milan’s cycling heritage, look no further than the Masi shop located at the Velodrome Vigorelli. After a long career as a professional racer and team mechanic, Faliero Masi opened the doors to the shop, where he commenced building bicycle frames, in the 50’s. In 1973 his son Alberto took over the shop, and still produces hand-made steel frames in the same workshop.

The place breathes cycling history. The walls are covered with signed photographs from heroes from Italy’s golden years of cycling. None of the gentlemen hanging out in the shop speaks English, but they keenly and with great enthusiasm show us around the workshop (when asking them to spell out their names, they elegantly give us their autographs – although totally un-readable).

Two hours out in the visit Alberto (dressed in a blue work coat) takes us to the side and leads us up the narrow steps to the attic where he proudly pulls out the Faema Masi bike that Eddy Merckx, the ledgend within cycling, rode from 1969 to 1972. A piece of history, that is.

Faliero Masi started up the workshop after racing professionally in the Giro d’Italia and Milan San Remo races during the 1930s. After working for different professional cycling teams as a mechanic he took his experience from racing into the building process and started building the ideal bikes. From the workshop located at Vigorelli he became known as “The Tailor” and build custom bikes for several legends (although it was not always known that the riders actually rode a Masi). Faliero continued to hand make all Masis until the early 60’s. But lets not forget about the location of the Masi workshop.

After years of neglect, the legendary Velodrome Vigorelli finally got the care it deserved, and has since 2015 undergone extensive renovations. We god a peek inside and witnessed track-cycling history in the making.

We knew it was a long shot, getting into the Velodrome Vigorelli. The legendary wooden course, built in 1935, has hosted some of track cycling’s greatest triumphs, in addition to other heroes such as The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. The track remained a centre point for Italian cycling until the 90’s, and has since become a shadow of its former glory.

Today just finding the place is challenging, with its astonishing anonymity. On the outside, the only proof of this being a prime spot for cycling is the legendary Masi shop, still located in the back of the Velo. After years of neglect the Velodrome is finally getting the attention it deserves. Since 2015 extensive renovations have been done to the 397-metre wooden track. However, that also means that the track is currently closed off to outsiders.

Bikevibe: So the Velodrome is closed?
Locals/gang of elder men usually found hanging around the Masi shop: Yes, it’s closed for renovations. You are not allowed inside.

Five minutes later.

You want to see inside the Velodrome? Come with us. We walk for a few minutes and end up in front of the main entrance of Velodrome Vigorelli. But no photos, ok? The doors open and the whole team go “wow, this is amazing!”

Five minutes passes.

You want to take some photos? It’s ok; go ahead. Have you noticed this part? Come; let us show you (they say with pride, visibly satisfied with our amaze).

Half an hour later we leave with memory cards full and smiles on our faces. We have just witnessed cycling history in renovation. The renovations of the Velodrome Vigorelli are now finished, and the track is once again open for to public.