Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Green All-Road for the Green Mountains

After riding a succesion of modern production steel frames which he felt were "overbuilt", Randy decided to have a custom frameset built to suit his stature and riding style. The stature factor called for a large (62cm c-t) frame with enough flex to work in harmony with a fairly light, but strong, rider. The riding style factor called for a bike tough enough for bombing the dirt roads in Vermont's Green Mountains. He's also a part of the low-trail/fat-tire crowd, and this new bike would be built around that type of geometry. The result is the All-Road frameset shown above.

For the frame's main triangle, I used a selection of modern Dedacciai tubes in "standard" diameters, which mimic the flex of the old classic Reynolds 531C tubeset. The oval chainstays provide ample clearance for the 700C x 35 tires, and the lighter-gauge seatstays provide a bit of additional compliance.

The fork is where the beef is. I used the new Grand Bois cast crown, which is designed for Imperial oval fork blades. On the classic Imperial oval profile, the top of the blade has a longer fore-aft dimension than does the succesor Continental oval, which tends to push blade flex farther down toward the tip of the blade. Since Randy likes to ride fast on pot-holed dirt roads, I wanted to use fork blades that are stronger than what I'd normally use for a rando frame. Many thanks to Richard Sachs for providing the NOS Reynolds 531ST fork blades from his personal stash. The photo below shows the Grand Bois crown, along with the custom-made brazeon mounts for the DiaCompe 700 centerpull brakes.

Randy wanted a clean, classic look, and selected this nice set of long point lugs. The Paragon rear dropouts, which are CNC'd 4130 CrMo steel, compliment this look and are uber-tough. The frameset incorporates a full wishlist of fender mounts, rack mounts, light mounts & wire guides, extra bottle cage bosses, and chain catcher. The fender mount bosses are positioned for a generous 13mm of clearance between 50mm fenders and the spec'd 35mm tires. The frameset was designed around a Miche threadless needle-bearing headset, which also compliments the styling by being logo-free.

There's also a custom front rack and decaleur on the way. I'll put up another post later showning this bike fully dressed.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Making a (Under) Statement

Branding. That word used to describe what ranchers did to identify their cattle. These days, the word has been adopted by the marketing guys to describe an intense competition to get their company name in front of the consuming public. Bicycle manufacturers, with a long tradition of including names and logos on frames, have embraced this new branding ethic in a big way. Walk around most modern bikes and you'll be able to read the company name from almost any angle. Does a bike frame really need to have 8 to 10 decals that all display the same word?

My own sense of style says that the frame's metalwork and paint should define the look, and that look should be an understated elegance. I have no desire (or need) to plaster my advertising on
your bike.

All creative works, bicycle frames included, deserve to be signed by the artist. To that end, my frames carry a single, small copy of my builder's "signature" on the top tube. In the full-frame photos on this site, you'll have to look hard to spot this small graphic.

My frames are painted by Keith Anderson, whom I consider to be a valued partner in this enterprise. Keith places his own artist's signature in an out of the way location on the left chainstay.

From the beginning, I have adhered to this understated styling, not worrying if it might turn off potential customers. Recently, to my delight, I am being contacted by customers specifically because of this styling. They've never met me, and likely don't know anybody who owns one of my frames, but they've been searching for a builder who will hold off on the decals. Through the power of the internet, they've found one!