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Massacan: French-designed Italian-handmade aluminum bikes

Who hasn’t thought about quitting his job and chasing his dream? This is the story behind Massacan, a young French brand from Nice that is trying to do things as they would have loved them to be done. Founded in 2022 by Lucie, Matthieu, and Thomas, and away from mass-scale production ideas, they currently offer two products.

The models Paula and Fissa, for gravel and fixed gear respectively, are fully designed by them and handcrafted in Italy with the most premium aluminum. Then, the choice of customization is yours, but be sure that you will be wisely advised as communication is their number one priority. In a few words, Paula and Fissa are conceived to take you far in a fun, dynamic, and comfortable riding style with an elegant and sleek appearance.

A story around Southern France

About three years ago, the three co-founders of Massacan met in Paris. At that time, all of them were involved in one way or another in the cycling industry, either by working in a local shop or in a big wholesaler. However, that did not fit their ideas behind bikes as they appreciated the aesthetics, the culture, and above all, riding them. One evening, after enjoying a burger in the vicinity of the col d’Eze and effortlessly discussing for hours, they would sail on an adventure to create bikes they were eager to ride, quitting their jobs and chasing a dream.

Ever since then, Massacan has been constantly growing and despite being a small group they deal with all the brand aspects. Lucie takes care of communication and image, Matthieu manages the bike conception and assembly, and Thomas is the guy behind the web, the geometry geek, and the collaborating brands salesman. Regarding the last point, on their website, one can find products they believe in (Miss Grape or Chrome) and which clearly complement their bikes and support their riding style.

The main goal of Massacan was moving away from the massive industry trends or very niche framebuilders offering something in between. In this context, they found a slot for handcrafted aluminum. Recent developments in aluminum tube design and welding now offer the possibility to create geometries and shapes resembling carbon but with a stiff response and a light and reliable frameset. Besides, it is completely recyclable, unlike carbon.

Handcrafted close to Milan, Italy, the frames are produced just 400 km away from Nice. With the idea of keeping the brand local, Matthieu usually drives to the Dedacciai factory where he can just visit the painter and nearby brands like Selle Italia or Miche, with whom they collaborate. This way they are present during the whole process, from conception to bike assembly, which final montage is done à la carte back in Nice. Furthermore, they recently added Hutchinson in the mix, with French tires that add to the local spirit.

The moment you decide to acquire a Massacan frame you will immediately become part of the Massacan club (or family) and a one-to-one communication line with them will be open. They treat you the way they would have liked to be treated, so they are side-by-side with you during the whole process, from sizing to color or component choice. Within a 1-2 month time frame, you will have your bike at home, and do not be surprised if you go on the first ride with them, as they even deliver the bike in person. So, the question is, should you go for the gravel Paula or the fixed-gear Fissa?

Paula, the gravel grinder

The first model they launched was Paula, which clearly reflected all their ideas and riding style behind the brand as they mostly enjoyed riding off-road and going on bikepacking trips. Going back to the name Massacan, which means ‘big stone’ in the local dialect of Menton, the birth town of Matthieu, one can see that the project is all about outdoor adventure and discovery. With this third iteration of Paula, an Italian name as Nice and Menton are just at the border, they have now found the perfect balance between fun and responsiveness while fully loading the bike for a trip.

The most distinctive feature about Paula when compared to other aluminum bikes in the market is its geometry. As Thomas explained, it has a short front to make it aggressive and reactive whereas the rear is longer to accommodate wide tires and make the bike more stable and comfortable for long trips. This resembles a racing carbon bike, as aluminum ones are usually longer at the front frames. In spite of that, if their geometry does not fit you, you can always discuss with them the possibility of tuning it at no extra cost.

Moving to more technical features, the tubes are from the series Dedacciai Fire Competition Light based on 7005 aluminum, which is super light and hydroformed to offer the best response when under pressure. The Italian frame builder has designed special thinner chainstays with 700c 50 mm tire clearance for the toughest adventures, allowing either one-by or double drivetrains. In addition, the bottom bracket (T47 thread) has a wide 85.5 mm box to offer high stability and stiffness. To fit current trends, the back dropouts are designed with the universal derailleur hanger (UDH) standard and there is a nice Paula engraving. Finally, the frameset is completed with an FSA or Deda headset and a tapered carbon fork with bottle cage spaces, complementing the three slots on the frame. All with a total weight of around 2 kg.

For final customization, you can choose between three different finishing colors, Shell pink (Matthieu), Olympic white (Lucie), or Daphne blue (Thomas), which were individually picked up from a Fender’s catalog, the electric guitar brand, by each one of the co-founders. The logos are all conceived with the help of L’Ermitage and reflect the region’s spirit with the lemon of Menton, the Alps marmot, the bikepacking map, or the double mountain peaks of France and Italy.

Fissa, the versatile fixed gear

In current times, when fixed gear is no longer the trend, one could think that the recent release of Fissa was a bold move. However, after talking to them it makes complete sense. Thomas and Matthieu both started cycling through fixed gear (a little bit later for Lucie) and they fell in love with them for their simplicity, osmosis with the surroundings, and versatility for moving around.

Fissa, which means fast or fixed in Mentonnais, comes as the do-it-all fixed-gear bike. The geometry is based on the aggressive bikes we used to see in the Red Hook Criterium, capable of riding full speed both in a velodrome or criteriums and around the city for commuting or in alley cats. The material of choice is also aluminum 7005 from Dedacciai, which makes a complete frameset weight of 1.9 kg. The tubes have a round profile but are thick, giving the bike a robust look, which also translates to a stiff and solid frame.

The bike is also conceived for long distances as it incorporates two bottle cage slots. More interestingly, you can choose between a disk or rim brake fork, so do not be afraid to tackle the most demanding mountain hills as they already thought about this possibility. In addition to all of that, the seatstay can be opened using a Gates belt instead of a chain. Therefore, the customization options are endless. In this case, the model is only offered in lilac purple color, but as in the case of Paula, you can always discuss the paint job with them if you desire.

Next Chapter

Despite being a young brand, in Massacan they are already designing two new models for 2024, without abandoning their concept of fun bikes for riding far and fast. Without disclosing the name, on the one hand, they envision an all-road aluminum bike with 35 mm tire clearance and a rather aggressive geometry with high seatstays and a horizontal top tube. However, it will be a bike designed for those who enjoy the speed and long distances and not purely about performance, as the geometry is designed with the route ‘les 7 majeurs’ in mind, a 360 km long track of pure climbing (12,000 m) in the Alps.

On the other hand, the second bike will be your ultimate adventure bikepacking ally. Flatbar, steel tubes, 29’ wheels, and rigid or suspension fork will be featured on this MTB bike giving it an all-terrain look. The concept is to be able to charge the bike as much as you want, without losing comfort on successive climbing and descending sections and, at the same time, enjoying technical single tracks and rocky trails.

After a pleasant discussion with the three co-founders of Massacan, Matthieu came up with a nice message to take home. “We love bikes and most of all riding them. We want to provide a bicycle we are eager to ride so that other people can enjoy it as much as we do. For this, Massacan is an alternative to large brands and niche framebuilders, meeting in between as we immediately interact with our clients making them part of the process and family, while offering à la carte exclusive bikes for all budgets.” All in all, Massacan is about adventure and fun, no matter if you prefer going off-road or riding in the city, with premium aluminum frames conceived and handmade in Europe with revisited geometries and exquisite design you will be able to go everywhere.