Richard and I see eye to eye on this topic as usual. I would imagine amongst framebuilders you will find a tendencey for them to judge the merits of any given frame based on what they see when looking at the frame in question. I have mentioned this upon occassion to various people in the past that framebuilders see bike frames differently than persons who do not build frames for a living; and each time I get a responce from the other party like "give me a break, I can see everything you see" kinda thing. I guarentee that isn't true. That goes double for a frame that is in the unpainted condition. Very few laymen see hundreds of different brands of frames unpainted, and have to intimately work, repair, and romance them day in and day out. From that, one can tell how skillful the brazers and filers were, what kind of "factory dents" were present, intimate details of construction, odd tubing selections, etc.,etc. A framebuilder is also sensitive to the "style" of the work. Italian style stay ends are more work than French or English style. Some operations are done the "hard way" and some operations are done the "easy way". I can tell the difference. What's the point of this?
Well I think what Richard is saying is that each frame should be judged upon it's own merits. At least that's how I go about it. The situation is that very few people have the knowledge to do this. Therefore, as consumers they look for "reputation", or buy what everyone else got (good enough for them, good enough for me) to fit in, or whatever. Often the color, the finish, the decals, etc. is what draws people to them. Like Richard says or implies, none of these things are necessarily valid guarentees of quality. My feeling is that "education" is the best approach. That's why this list exists. Of course we don't want everybody to all like the same thing, there wouldn't be enough to go around.
For some the "history" of the bike or marque is attractive and important, never mind how it was made. Some have sentimental attachments (have a few myself) to certain bikes. Ordinarily I wouldn't seek out a 1971 Peugeot PX-10, but I couldn't go without having one because it was my first racing bike. Gastley construction, worked like a charm. One could say the same about Raleighs, and still you can't invalidate them or anyone who likes, loves, or is charmed by them.
At a higher level, when a frame goes beyond function only (and most frames at least try) then some of the "merits" are a matter of personal taste. I often look at construction details of a frame which I don't like the style of (for example full wraparound seat stays as on the Woodrup I just did) and can at least appreciate that it was done well for the style. I've seen some that are truely hideous. Colin Cape comes to mind. Remember the story I told about Faliero looking at my Eisentraut A frame and pronouncing it "no good" because of the fastback seat stay style. We're all human (I think) and emotions, memories, and physical attributes contribute to why we like this or that. For some the name alone, regardless of who built it, is all that is neccessary.
I would not expect anything to change as far as what people want to collect and what they see when looking at a frame. The subtleties between one high level frame as compared to the next are probably too fine to divide and judge upon for non framebuilders. And it's just as well. At that level the differences are largely cosmetic and a matter of style more than anything else. Construction methods vary which can effect how a bike rides or lasts, but you can't stand over everyones sholder and watch every move, knowing right from wrong, to determine how well the bike was made. Again one must trust the person and the reputation and hope they are well deserved. My Jackson trike came with a fork that looked like it was milled with a chainsaw. Didn't really effect the bike, but it didn't make a real good impression on me.
So I guess I'm saying that what makes a frame what it is, is in fact the craftsman and not the bits and decals. But in the real world most things are attractive to us for mainly reasons not entirely logical or rational. I like to have a variety of things, but focus on my favorites. If I had nothing but money I would have a broader intrest. I collect what I like, and I have a Richard Sachs. It's even old enough to qualify as on topic for this list.
I have always felt odd about claims of bikes "ridden by so and so and therefore it must be good" and "I built a bike for a champion therefore I'm good" for this simple reason. Those are the most common advertising fallacies of all time. I know one thing, the most valuable class I EVER took in high school was a class called "Logic and Reasoning". Other than the 3 R's; I learned nothing of value to me today other than what I learned there. For one thing, it alerted me to the fact that I LOVE logic and reason! Anyway, ever since that was pointed out to me, I have been turned off by those type of claims. They are in fact invalid when it comes to nuts and bolts. A frame should be judged on it's own merits, the question is who is going to do it? The answer is we all do, and it ain't going to change. Just my .02 on a subject I have pondered many times.
Brian Baylis La Mesa, CA
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> You nailed it. The king is not wearing any clothes...
> Thank you. I argued this back in 1980 and was dismissed (because I was
> the guy in the Univ. Of Florida cycling club who had the 'misfortune' to be
> riding a lowly Raleigh Comp G.S.)
> Now you'll hear the argument that it is the 'bit's that make a frame
> great, the very materials used and the geometry and 'design' of the master.
> Many a great artist has enlisted the help of assistants in realizing his art.
> So what is it, Mr. Sachs? The craftsman or the craft?
> After seeing your frames in their birthday suits at Joe Bell's place,
> I know my answer.
> Scott Smith
> Content-Type: text/html; charset="US-ASCII"
> Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
> <HTML><FONT FACE=arial,helvetica><FONT SIZE=2>Man,
> <BR> You nailed it. The king is not wearing any clothes...
> <BR> Thank you. I argued this back in 1980 and was dismissed (because I was
> <BR>the guy in the Univ. Of Florida cycling club who had the 'misfortune' to be
> <BR>riding a lowly Raleigh Comp G.S.)
> <BR> Now you'll hear the argument that it is the 'bit's that make a frame
> <BR>great, the very materials used and the geometry and 'design' of the master.
> <BR>Many a great artist has enlisted the help of assistants in realizing his art.
> <BR> So what is it, Mr. Sachs? The craftsman or the craft?
> <BR> After seeing your frames in their birthday suits at Joe Bell's place,
> <BR>I know my answer.
> <BR> Scott Smith
> <BR> LA</FONT></HTML>