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Have you ever ridden a Confente?

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Have you ever ridden a Confente?

Old 09-21-22, 05:28 PM
  #26  
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From this thread and a couple other recent threads here and elsewhere it appears that some feel it is time to knock Confente down a notch from his celebrated status.
Some of us appreciate the lug shorelines, the design details, and finish work on a Confente. At least one member here professes to see no difference between a Confente and a Raleigh of the same period.

That's all fine by me and no cause for acrimony, but if a Confente ever falls into my lap I will certainly ride it!

In the interest of revealing my sentimental bias I will point out that my cycling coach in the early seventies knew Confente from his days racing in Italy and declared his Confente-built Masi the best race bike he ever rode. I'm sure that colors my perception.
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Old 09-21-22, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Classtime View Post
Any significant races won on a Confente? Or did he build sport tourers. I assume most feel Confente would win NAHBS had there been such a thing but of course serious race bike builders were too busy for such silliness.
State and National Championships.
Not many racers bought them. Too expensive.
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Old 09-21-22, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
From this thread and a couple other recent threads here and elsewhere it appears that some feel it is time to knock Confente down a notch from his celebrated status.
As the easiest target for this comment, let me clarify that I am not knocking Mario himself. I'm knocking the followers who lap up the saga behind Mario's work and short life on this world and try to build an undeserved mythology around it.

Questions like "how does a Confente ride" don't exist unless such a phenomenon is happening. Someone has to speak up and bring this kind of dreaming down to earth.

Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
Some of us appreciate the lug shorelines, the design details, and finish work on a Confente.
As do I. I think his work is gorgeous. Nothing wrong with it and it deserves appreciation. It just doesn't deserve a cult.

Originally Posted by obrentharris View Post
At least one member here professes to see no difference between a Confente and a Raleigh of the same period.
Funny, I was about to say that one of the best experiences I've ever had on a road bike was when I tried out my ho-hum Raleigh Pro Mk.V on tubulars.

In fact, let me make that a suggestion to anyone who wants to "ride a Confente:" Go and put old tubulars on whatever 531 or Columbus you own, right now. You will discover the peak of how "magical" a ride can get.

-Kurt
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Old 09-21-22, 06:54 PM
  #29  
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I haven't ridden a Confente, but I guess that makes me the same as most folks here.

With that disclaimer, would it be okay if I share some of the relevant articles and photos that I've accumulated that pertain to Confentes ? I figure it'll provide a bit of context to the discussion.

First, let me share this article from Cyclist magazine, circa 1989.





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Old 09-21-22, 07:15 PM
  #30  
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Photos of a Confente-built Masi, number M5.
There are a number of photos, so they will be spread over 3 posts.
The photos are mostly from the 2018 Classic Rendezvous gathering.


head tube


back of head tube


lower head tube lug


lower head tube lug and fork crown


crank and BB


Steve in Peoria
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Old 09-21-22, 07:18 PM
  #31  
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Photos of a Confente-built Masi, number M5.
There are a number of photos, so they will be spread over 3 posts.
This is the second of 3 posts.
The photos are mostly from the 2018 Classic Rendezvous gathering.

crank


front derailleur


seat lug, rear view


seat lug/cluster, front view


seat tube


Steve in Peoria
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Old 09-21-22, 07:20 PM
  #32  
steelbikeguy
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Photos of a Confente-built Masi, number M5.
There are a number of photos, so they will be spread over 3 posts.
This is the third post.
The photos are mostly from the 2018 Classic Rendezvous gathering.

seat lug/cluster, view from left


seat stay bridge and brake caliper


rear hub, dropouts


Steve in Peoria
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Old 09-21-22, 07:40 PM
  #33  
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Look like nice frames.

What’s so special about them?

Maybe they’re before my time.
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Old 09-21-22, 07:59 PM
  #34  
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Photos of Confente number 18
There are a number of photos, so they will be spread over 2 posts.
The photos are from the 2018 Classic Rendezvous gathering.


head tube


head tube, left-rear view


lower head lug and shift levers


upper head tube lug


cranks


rear of BB shell


Steve in Peoria
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Old 09-21-22, 08:00 PM
  #35  
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Photos of Confente number 18
This is the second of two posts.
The photos are from the 2018 Classic Rendezvous gathering.

drivetrain


seat lug cluster


seat tube and top tube


seat stay bridge


rear derailleur


left rear dropout


Steve in Peoria
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Old 09-21-22, 08:08 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post
that is a wild conjecture.
considering the total number constructed, the odds of seeing one are not that high.
Huh? I’m trying to see the logic that connects these two sentences, but it’s escaping me.

It is surely conjecture to say most Confente owners don’t ride them, but how is that related to what I might see? I’ve never seen lots of bikes in person (heck, you’ve never shown a pic of any bike you’ve ever claimed to own, so maybe those don’t actually exist.), including ones that were mass produced.
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Old 09-21-22, 08:21 PM
  #37  
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Photos of Confente Custom Pro-Strada, 1977
There are a number of photos, so they will be spread over 2 posts.
The photos are from the 2018 Classic Rendezvous gathering.

head tube


complete bike


upper head lug


lower head tube lug and shift levers


upper left view of head tube


bottom bracket shell


Steve in Peoria
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Old 09-21-22, 08:23 PM
  #38  
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Photos of Confente Custom Pro-Strada, 1977
Second post of two.
The photos are from the 2018 Classic Rendezvous gathering.


bottom bracket shell and chainstay bridge


left brake lever


right brake lever


rear brake caliper


front brake caliper


Steve in Peoria
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Old 09-21-22, 08:39 PM
  #39  
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The last item that I've got is a page from a Bicycling magazine article about track bikes....



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Old 09-21-22, 09:18 PM
  #40  
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I appreciate the discussion this thread has generated - which was exactly the point!

It was to neither perpetuate a legendary status affixed to these bicycles by some, nor to knock them down a few notches from said status held by some. That being said, I genuinely appreciate the 'its nothing special' type of posts on these bikes - maybe that idea will continue to catch on and then I'll have a better chance at affording one some day

Most of us know the backstory of these bikes as well as the builder. I've not seen one, nor ridden one. In short - I like old bikes, and I'm curious.

Post #17 still FTW. Let's keep the discussion going. I'm still curious.
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Old 09-21-22, 09:45 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Questions like "how does a Confente ride" don't exist unless such a phenomenon is happening. Someone has to speak up and bring this kind of dreaming down to earth.
I think this really gets at the heart of the matter. As I was reading this thread, I was thinking about the parallels between Mario Confente and Yoshi Konno -- both master craftsmen whose time was cut tragically short. I've seen threads asking about what makes 3Rensho bikes special also, and I think the answer is the same as with Confente and it's not the way they ride.

Probably most of us here want to believe in the mystique of the master builder, and there's definitely something there, but there's also something not there. What does the builder have control over? Tubing selection, geometry, construction quality, detail work and refinement.... Of these, geometry and tubing choice are the only things that really affect ride quality but as had been noted previously they affect the ride differently for different riders. If I were to go to a master builder and have a bike custom made for me, that builder may indeed be able to build a bike better than anything I'd ever find mass produced, but if I turn around and sell it to someone else there would be a large chunk of luck in it being just as great for them.

Of course, a master builder can bring a lot more to the table than just ride quality and acknowledging that their bikes don't magically perform better than others shouldn't be seen as reducing their reputation.
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Old 09-21-22, 09:51 PM
  #42  
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Here's an interesting take on the mystique that surrounds MC to this day; keep in mind, what follows are the musings of a framebuilder, and a highly-regarded one at that.

Quote: "There will never be an end to the debate over Mario and what he built.

The limited number is probably the most significant factor in the unrealistic prices relative to the “actual” quality of the frames. Those who seek the highest prices for these items are within their rights to extract as much money as possible out of the few Confente frames that exist. The only people truly qualified to judge the quality of any other frames are frame builders. We see and know what is involved in making the end result; and know and understand what it takes to do it. The rest of you must go on what you see (mainly the painted finished frame and nothing else), your emotions based on what you think you know about the builder and frame building, what you imagine it takes, and what others might have to say about it. The fact is, most people have to go on emotion/visual input with very little knowledge of what is really being presented.

Every time I make that statement there is someone who says “who the hell do you think you are and what the f*** do you know”. Spare me.

Frame building is not magic, takes moderate skill (about like brain surgery), and I’ve paid my dues for nearly 30 years. Now if there’s another frame builder who would like to take exception to what I say then I’m all ears. I’m not pulling rank on non-builders; but the fact is I know more about it than you do. Put me in your job and I’m the one who knows nothing. Since the topic is frames I feel I can speak with authority. I do my best to present what I know and back it up with facts and explanations as required. If I come off as an “elitist snob” I’m sorry, it’s not my intention. Let’s move on.

I just had a thought that might shed a little light on the subject of value. With any given frame there are two factors. The first is the actual quality of construction, choice of materials, design, style, finish, etc. In other words tangible elements that any experienced and knowledgeable frame builder can point out and explain and give relative credit to compared to other frames of “similar intention”. A certain amount of “style” is personal opinion but there are also traditional accepted elements of design that can be considered “more refined” than something less so. You can’t compare apples and oranges. A Confente is a custom handmade frame. You can’t compare a Schwinn Paramount to it to make a fair comparison.

Other custom handmade frames should be the benchmark. The second factor is “mystique”, “mojo”, emotion, hype, and all other “marketing” oriented factors that each frame has or has not. I guarantee there are hundreds of frames built to Marios’ ability and above that rate zero on the “I have to have one” factor. It’s just the way the world is. If all frames were purchased strictly on the quality of what’s there and nothing else and the price was relative to that, Mario would not make the top ten with absolute certainty. "


(Brian Baylis, 27 June 2002)

DD
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Old 09-21-22, 09:55 PM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
I think this really gets at the heart of the matter. As I was reading this thread, I was thinking about the parallels between Mario Confente and Yoshi Konno -- both master craftsmen whose time was cut tragically short. I've seen threads asking about what makes 3Rensho bikes special also, and I think the answer is the same as with Confente and it's not the way they ride.
I will point out one thing with Konno though - he made a considerable mark with his outlandish funny bikes, which is exactly what they were meant to do from a sales perspective. After all, many of those experiments weren't even that well suited for their intended purpose, they were made to catch the eye first.

Confente's work isn't too different in a way; just a lot more conservative in execution.

-Kurt
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Old 09-21-22, 10:12 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
Here's an interesting take on the mystique that surrounds MC to this day; keep in mind, what follows are the musings of a framebuilder, and a highly-regarded one at that.

Quote: "There will never be an end to the debate over Mario and what he built.

The limited number is probably the most significant factor in the unrealistic prices relative to the “actual” quality of the frames. Those who seek the highest prices for these items are within their rights to extract as much money as possible out of the few Confente frames that exist. The only people truly qualified to judge the quality of any other frames are frame builders. We see and know what is involved in making the end result; and know and understand what it takes to do it. The rest of you must go on what you see (mainly the painted finished frame and nothing else), your emotions based on what you think you know about the builder and frame building, what you imagine it takes, and what others might have to say about it. The fact is, most people have to go on emotion/visual input with very little knowledge of what is really being presented.

Every time I make that statement there is someone who says “who the hell do you think you are and what the f*** do you know”. Spare me.

Frame building is not magic, takes moderate skill (about like brain surgery), and I’ve paid my dues for nearly 30 years. Now if there’s another frame builder who would like to take exception to what I say then I’m all ears. I’m not pulling rank on non-builders; but the fact is I know more about it than you do. Put me in your job and I’m the one who knows nothing. Since the topic is frames I feel I can speak with authority. I do my best to present what I know and back it up with facts and explanations as required. If I come off as an “elitist snob” I’m sorry, it’s not my intention. Let’s move on.

I just had a thought that might shed a little light on the subject of value. With any given frame there are two factors. The first is the actual quality of construction, choice of materials, design, style, finish, etc. In other words tangible elements that any experienced and knowledgeable frame builder can point out and explain and give relative credit to compared to other frames of “similar intention”. A certain amount of “style” is personal opinion but there are also traditional accepted elements of design that can be considered “more refined” than something less so. You can’t compare apples and oranges. A Confente is a custom handmade frame. You can’t compare a Schwinn Paramount to it to make a fair comparison.

Other custom handmade frames should be the benchmark. The second factor is “mystique”, “mojo”, emotion, hype, and all other “marketing” oriented factors that each frame has or has not. I guarantee there are hundreds of frames built to Marios’ ability and above that rate zero on the “I have to have one” factor. It’s just the way the world is. If all frames were purchased strictly on the quality of what’s there and nothing else and the price was relative to that, Mario would not make the top ten with absolute certainty. "


DD

I am pretty sure that passage was written many decades on.
When he made a splash at the 1977 NYC trade show, the later consensus of other very capable builders was :
"what could he have done to be that audacious to ask $400. For a frame set?" " what extra effort is in there?"

this was at a time where the work of Richard Sachs and Ben Serotta were $225-275. $400 was a hefty premium beyond, and Confente did not have a wholesale price. A reselling shop marked up from there. Wild at the time.

that might have been a key point to drive home to these builders. Present the effort and have the confidence to demand to be paid for it.
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Old 09-21-22, 10:42 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by repechage View Post

I am pretty sure that passage was written many decades on.
He wrote that in 2002; it's part of the Medici/Confente CR list saga.

I'm not understanding the significance, if any, of this portion of your post. Could you explain what you meant?

Btw, when I first read that CR list thing it was 2005 or so, perhaps a bit earlier, and you know what? I completely understood, for the first time, exactly what Brian Baylis was getting at. We love to invent heroes, don't we?

I should point out that while I was poking a little fun when I made my original post (obviously there is a difference in the degree of finish between a Confente and a Medici), the basic tenet still remains: the ride is likely the same, and if we threw a Baylis into the mix, it would also likely ride the same. The materials and geometry are the basic deciders of that ride - and, as Kurt rightly pointed out, the bestest, lightest tubular wheelset one can afford. And don't skimp on the tires - or glue

DD
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Old 09-21-22, 11:19 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by Drillium Dude View Post
He wrote that in 2002; it's part of the Medici/Confente CR list saga.

I'm not understanding the significance, if any, of this portion of your post. Could you explain what you meant?

Btw, when I first read that CR list thing it was 2005 or so, perhaps a bit earlier, and you know what? I completely understood, for the first time, exactly what Brian Baylis was getting at. We love to invent heroes, don't we?

I should point out that while I was poking a little fun when I made my original post (obviously there is a difference in the degree of finish between a Confente and a Medici), the basic tenet still remains: the ride is likely the same, and if we threw a Baylis into the mix, it would also likely ride the same. The materials and geometry are the basic deciders of that ride - and, as Kurt rightly pointed out, the bestest, lightest tubular wheelset one can afford. And don't skimp on the tires - or glue

DD
I did not read the date footer ( the limits of iPhone screen, but definitely knew the author)
Brian had a respect/ quandary / dismay?
regarding Mario. He had a working history with him and felt a bit slighted for his good efficient work not being recognized. This was a separate old CR thread regarding filing some fork blade to dropout connections. The rejected one was the sample Mario provided to work from. 24 were consistent and acceptable, Brian's effort, ticked Brian off.

Brian worked hard, he admitted later he was an artist, this goofed up the Wizard bicycle venture as way way too much time was spent on modest return of $240. Each.

so, rolling back the clock, before the "James Dean" effect, there was this Italian charging way beyond what others were and with a full order book. Plenty of other builders to this day, "why not me?"

an Italian melodic name helps.
a sense of style and how to recognize it.
( the USA graphics package went along with the metalwork, possibly even influencing it)
the Italian Confente graphic packages were modest and ho hum even- they were not going to get you big bucks. The established Italian boutique builders, Masi, Pogliaghi, Colnago all had competent graphics.

Merz comes to mind as a very capable builder who just did not perceive the "packaging" as a necessary part. He liked domed stay and fork ends, required skill for sure, looked pedestrian and it did not help that Reynolds would do them for a pittance extra complete and slotted.
the Merz graphics were a three footer to read.
that don't cut it in the marketing world.

Eisentraut I think goofed. Great but almost unreadable downtube graphic but worked as a "chop" one did not have to be able to read it.
Big error in my mind that there was no head and seat tube herald. An image of a racer crossing the line first? The headtube was blank.
What a missed opportunity.
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Old 09-21-22, 11:22 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by cudak888 View Post
Time for an early-in-the-thread sanity check:

No amount of lug filing, dropout slotting, or dead framebuilders on their front steps are going to elevate a frameset to god status. Don't let the legend cloud rational judgement.

Confentes are framesets built with loving attention to detail from a fellow whose life on this earth was cut far too short. Yes, they're art and they're special given his association with MASI. Nevertheless, he did not descend from the heavens with Columbus tubing forged by Zeus, and did not assemble this tubing using unicorn piss for brazing flux.

If one could ride blindfolded, I bet not a single one of us here could pick out a Confente from its peers, and I bet changing the wheels and tires mounted to each frameset would cause more change than anything else. Not to mention a lightweight rider will likely have a differing opinion per frame and wheelset than a heavy rider.

Remember, a lugged steel frame can be "springy," "dull," "not fit right," or "just perfect," but they can't be outright magic. Magical, perhaps, but not magic. Confentes stand out because they're understated art pieces, not because they're functionally superior to anything else of the time.

DD is right - that Medici will probably ride just like a Confente, as will many other bikes of that time, whether or not Mario had any connection or involvement.

Can you feel it coming in the air tonight? Oh lord, or lord. Well, I've been waiting for another Riv' thread all my life, oh lord...

-Kurt
Damn, thanks for writing that!

Lots of people treat vintage bikes as if they were religious artifacts. I just like to ride 'em.
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If someone tells you that you have enough bicycles and you don't need any more, stop talking to them. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life.
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Old 09-22-22, 06:11 AM
  #48  
nlerner
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Originally Posted by gugie View Post
lots of people treat vintage bikes as if they were religious artifacts. I just like to take a welding torch to 'em.
fify.
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Old 09-22-22, 08:36 AM
  #49  
Choke 
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Originally Posted by nlerner View Post
Somehow I doubt that the Confentes out there actually get ridden.
I've seen this one at least two different years at Eroica CA. Who knows how often it gets used the rest of the year? I believe that it belongs to Mike Kone who owns Boulder Bicycle.

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Old 09-22-22, 11:35 AM
  #50  
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I have never seen a Confente bike but I have seen several Wizards and spoke with Mr. Baylis a number of times at races in the '80s. His work was IMO absolutely the best. My greatest regret is that I didn't have the $ to purchase one. And regarding his comments noted above --- he was a total master at what he did and certainly did not impress me as a fool.
JMO of course
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