[CR]Craft vs. Machine building

(Example: History)

From: Douglas R. Brooks <dbrk@troi.cc.rochester.edu>
To: classicrendezvous@bikelist.org (Classic Rendevous)
Date: Fri, 2 Mar 2001 10:30:24 -0500 (EST)
Cc: dbrk@troi.cc.rochester.edu (db)
Subject: [CR]Craft vs. Machine building


I think all framebuilders I have spoken with agree that modern cast lugs and the quality of tubing nowadays is indeed an improvement over what was made in the early classic lightweight era. It strikes me as ironic that now that technology can create the best materials for lugged steel bikes we have ever seen, what we have instead are toothpaste TIGed aluminum... That said, I confess to riding techno-zoot bikes and liking them, though I have clear, reality-driven everyday preferences for things classic. But all that said, have a look here if you have patience for the download (or a cable internet connection that makes this come right up...spoiled me): http://www.bicycleworldusa.com/video_01/default.htm

Here, at Bicycle World USA's site, you will find a series of videos featuring Colnago bicycles---the only ones this shop sells. In the particular video I have in mind you will see a steel bike placed on a machine that "pre-heats" the welds, leaving them glowing as it turns to the human welder who finishes them off. One wonders why Colnago/BW-USA thinks that this is something they would like to _show_ people: assembly-line, quasi-automated production for the world's "finest bicycles." Where is the craft left in this? I spoke with Grant about this a few days ago and he mentioned that he knew the machine, the company that made it for Colnago, and that other Italian makers apparently use it as well. I have no expertise or qualification to comment on the merits of this process but the whole matter defies my more romantic visions of Sachs, Baylis, Bohm, et.al.(short list) enacting their careful craft. What might have Confente thought of this? (rhetorical, of course) Perhaps the better cast lugs and modern tubes make this assembly-line process okay for building straight, functionally okay bicycles, but it is sure ugly to my eye. I don't mean to disparage modern Colnagos (though I share Steven Sheffield's suggestion in reply to Brian's Private View), but Colnago must think that this "heights of technology" presentation is obviously meant to inspire us. I doubt that production lugged steel in America (Serotta, Waterford, any others?) would think this is inspiring to potential buyers.

Classic content question: Were there any production line style machines making bikes in the era of our interests?

trying to stay on mission here, but darn curious what others think of old style building techniques in contrast to these modern ways, Douglas Brooks snowy, snowy today Canandaigua, NY