Interesting question. You might want to qualify exactly which period of the 1970's you are refering to. Reason being that many of us Yanks were progressing at a very fast pace while our counterparts from various parts of the globe were "stuck" in the "traditional" role of framebuilders of the past; that being just a constructor of a mode of transportation, etc. that had to fit into a "practical" price range for such an item. The American frambuilders suffered from the illision that there was some "magic" involved in framebuilding, when in fact it is almost all common sense and very basic skills. But on account of this, many American builders tried to live up to and surpass that which they saw as the pinnicle at the time. What seperates American builders from most others is the silly notion that the bicycle frame can be "no more" than a tool or weapon of "war". Fact is that frame design and construction from the standpoint of utility only is fine, but there is no reason not to make it "artistic" as well if one so chooses. An exercise in designing and building a useful item first and foremost ALWAYS; and making it beautiful last. I can't count how many times I've heard people say that the bike is "compromised" as a tool if it is beautiful in addition to well designed and intelligently constructed. Many people think if a frame is artisticly rendered then the builder is not focusing in the "important" aspects. WRONG! DOUBLE WRONG! There seems to be no way to convince people that (at least speaking for myself and the builders I know personally) that is NEVER the case.
Ironically, the intelligently applied "artistic" touches frequently improve the frame from a structural point of view. I will go into this later and will cover this point in the seminar, but for now just let the concept enter your mind and germinate for a while.
What makes Confente frames "bigger than life" is the tragic tale of his early death and the extremely low number of frames built. No American builder can compete with that. That is not to take anything away from Marios' work, because he was a creative thinker and liked to be on the "cutting edge" of what was happening; but by the same token Mario most probably would never have stepped out of the "traditional" frame of mind to the degree that many American builders have. None of us will ever have the "mystic" of Mario, but many have started the race behind him and were ahead of him by my deffinition at the time of his passing. Furthermore, Mario would not have changed much at all if he had stayed in Italy in my opinion. It was the demand of the American customers that pushed Mario to accomodate our exccentric American tastes and inspired him to meet our expectaions of a "God". Just my opinion, so let's not start an argument here. But defining "the best framebuilders" is going to be a task; thank goodness I don't have to participate in this one, I'll just watch thank you very much.
La Mesa, CA
> So ... if we are all agreed that Mario Confente was the best builder in the
> United States in the 1970s ...
> Who is number 2, and for whom does he work?
> Or are we even agreed that Mario is number 1?
> If you could have a bike built by each of the top three builders, who would
> they be? In order?
> Steven L. Sheffield
> stevens at veloworks dot com
> veloworks at earthlink dot net
> aitch tee tea pea colon [for word] slash [four ward] slash double-you
> double-yew double-ewe dot veloworks dot com [four word] slash