Barcelona-based Massi turn out an enormous range of bikes aimed at riders of every persuasion and to suit just about any pocket. The 100mm-travel Aire Expert combines simple functionality with a good-looking spec and has a no-nonsense attitude that promises decent all-round performance.
Despite its staid looks it surprised us with its trail performance, but rear tyre clearance issues (which could be easily rectified at the manufacturing stage) put it out of the running as far as winter use goes.
Ride & handling: Stable and predictable but can’t cope with mud
Massi’s retro-looking frame is matched by a similarly conservative geometry. Experienced racers and trail warriors will feel immediately at home on the Aire Expert, while newer riders may ﬁnd the 110mm stem on the long side and the 24.5in bars a tad narrow.
Still, the compact top tube and long-ish stem make for a stable front end and, while it’s no barnstormer in the handling department, the Massi doesn’t put a tyre knob wrong at any speed without warning.
The rear end, combined with Manitou’s excellent platform-damped Radium RL rear shock, offers decently supple rear wheel movement with less bob than we’d expect, even without resorting to the bar-mounted lockout lever. Although the shock lacks the effortless plush of the Fox competition, it delivers a stable pedalling platform.
Competent at most things and with a decent spec, the Massi makes a reasonable case for itself on paper. But it has a fundamental flaw: the welded brace that sits just above the rear tyre has barely enough clearance for the shallow-treaded 2in rubber ﬁtted as stock. You might just squeeze a 2.1in in there, but it’ll probably clog at the ﬁrst sign of mud.
The rub is that the brace can’t go any higher as, at full compression of the suspension, it just clears the seat tube. Sadly, this makes the Massi Aire Expert about as much use on muddy trails as a chocolate teapot.
What makes this doubly frustrating is that we can’t see any reason why it can’t be made with a shallower radius to create more tyre edge clearance. It would still be tight but it would be a big improvement in practical terms.
Frame & equipment: Time-tested suspension design plus quality kit
In a world awash with shaped, hydroformed, swaged, ﬂuted and otherwise manipulated tube proﬁles, the Aire’s plain old round plumbing and welded-on strengthening gussets are a welcome change from the norm and a blast from the not-so-distant past.
The rear suspension design is uncannily reminiscent of Specialized’s classic Horst pivot setup, supported in the Massi’s case by the rarely seen Manitou Radium rear shock and paired with one of Fox’s excellent F-series forks up front.
Rim brake boss mounts on the seatstays are an incongruous sight with no apparent function, but Massi assure us that our test bike was a sample and that production bikes will be boss-free.
Fulcrum’s Red Metal wheelset adds a proprietary touch of bling, and a Shimano XT and XTR-based transmission punches above the Aire’s price point. The Massi’s Hutchinson tyres are woefully under-treaded for manky trail conditions, but the own-brand rider contact points work well.
|Name||Aire Expert (10)|
|Available Sizes||16" 17" 18" 20"|
|Front Wheel||Fulcrum Red Metal 5 rim on Fulcrum hub|
|Tyres||Hutchinson Piranha, 2.0in|
|Top Tube (in)||22.5|
|Standover Height (in)||31|
|Seat Tube (in)||17.25|
|Bottom Bracket Height (in)||13.5|
|Stem||CM-708 OVER ULTRA|
|Shifters||Shimano Deore XT|
|Rims||RED METAL 5|
|Rear Tyre||HUTCHINSON AS PIRANHA AIRLIGHT|
|Rear Shock||RADIUM RL REMOTE L.O.|
|Front Tyre||HUTCHINSON AS PIRANHA AIRLIGHT|
|Frame Material||AL-ZN-MG AIRLIGHT|
|Fork||32FRL FIT 2010 100mm|
|Cassette||Shimano HG50 9spd, 11-32T|
|Brakes||Shimano AM575 hydraulic discs|
|Rear Wheel||Fulcrum Red Metal 5 rim on Fulcrum hub|