You seem to have an interesting position regarding the issue of framebuilding and craftsmanship which comes out every time I mention the topic. Since we're all here (I assume) on account of a special love and appreciation for classic vintage lightweight bikes; I have to wonder why there is such a defensive attitude towards me and what I stand for. Since talk is cheap, I think it best to judge a person by their actions as opposed to what they say; although what one says is also an action. I feel that pretty much everyone who is on this list has a sincere interest in vintage bikes from every perspective and is here to learn more about, and share their passion for bikes. If one isn't collecting, riding, and preserving these machines I think that maybe they are in the wrong place. I suspect at least a certain amount of the misunderstanding between us comes from the "internet" based relationship that we have. One thing I have learned about communicating strictly through email is that people quite easily misunderstand one another and also seem to not realize what kind of person is really on the other end of the conversation. Knowing this, I have done my best not to enter into many of the debates that come up on the list that involve arguing about all kinds of important or unimportant subjects. Sometimes they are just personality conflicts. I have no interest in engageing in this sort of discussion and really think that perhaps if we actually met each other that a new respect would be found.......or maybe not. Be that as it may, I feel compelled, on behalf of some of the very dedicated few framebuilders who excell at not only workmanship, but as you say, the entire project of building a custom bicycle. Perhaps if you knew more about what makes someone like Richard Moon, Peter Johnson, and Peter Weigle tick, you would not be so antanonistic towards this approach to framebuilding. These people work long and hard to create frames that are in no way, shape, or form a compromise simply on account of the fact that they have gone a step further in the framebuilding process by being creative, stylish, or artistic. I get the feel from your statements that you think these are negative traits to modern frames. Personally I would consider that an insult to the efforts and talent these people wish to express. But further, I think logic will dictate that quite the opposite of what you state is true.
You say there is a whole lot more to framebuilding that just the three lugs and BB shell and that pretty filing does not improve the frame. That may be true, but there is something far more important that it DOES indicate about a frame/framebuilder. As I said before, talk is cheap. All the talk, advertising, and promotion in the world will not change the fact that those who revel in and enjoy the art and craftsmanship of creating truely custom frames NEVER drop the ball when it comes to the things that you list as the part of framebuilding that there is more to. Occassionally someone will try to get artsy before they have mastered the basic skills of framebuilding; but is rather rare. In fact, if one hasn't got a grasp of frame design, selection of materials, and brazing skills you can't (or shouldn't) call yourself a framebuilder. Those things ARE the basics of framebuilding. With very few exceptions, every framebuilder has a competent ability to perform these tasks. After a few years anyone can be top notch in these areas and after a certain amount of time one MIGHT get a little faster at the basics; but it's just not that hard to build a nice clean perfectly performing bike that should last several generations with proper use and care. That should be the minimum requirement if one is selling their work. At that level, only the paint and graphics really distinguishes one builder from another from a practical standpoint. Since some people may have forgotten, it's the distinctive "extra" care in construction, style, and passion that has established American framebuilders as among the worlds finest. Personally, when I hear someone say that refined work is useless or a waste of time I think first it's a case of "sour grapes" and secondly that perhaps they haven't spent enough time around really exceptional work to truely appreciate the dedication and effort it takes to produce small percentages of extra excellence and individuality at the expense of tremendous amounts of time. I see so many "ordinary" bikes that I really appreciate the accomplishments of Richard Moon for example, who hand made a set of lugs out of stainless steel tubing, created an original and unique lug pattern for them, hand polished them, and exicuted a piece of work that makes your hair stand on end. Trust me when I say that Richard gave MORE consideration to EVERY aspect of that frame from design, materials, and skills standpoint than most would put into 10 frames. The builder who is MUCH more likely to compromise is the one who is looking to get the job done with the minimum effort and as quickly as possible. I dare you to ask Peter Johnson what compromises he made on the frame he just finished after his many late nights and long hours making a SUPER SIMPLE lug pattern look refined and unique. I would duck if you consider asking Peter that question. Many confuse fancy with craftsmanship. That is quite NOT the case. It's just as difficult to make a simple looking masterpiece as a complicated looking one. Seeing the naked frame that Peter just built should dispell that rumor for all time. At that point an exceptional paint job is a neccessity for the preservation of the effort as opposed to serving as a way to make a basic frame look exceptional. To those who care about these things, only the real deal will do. Just ask Guy Apple.
Regarding living in the past and limiting ones' palate, I don't quite get it. My policy is to not make two frames exactly alike. What that requires is a wide selection of lugs and various creative ways to use them. Some things about the past are still worth living. The trick is to know what to keep and what to change or improve upon. Copying the design and geometry of another frame brand is a fine way to start framebuilding; but unless one has the courage to ride LOTS of bikes built by LOTS of builders and has a large collection of bikes/experiences to draw upon you will be missing a lot as a framebuilder. I see those who have never learned for themselves what all of the possibilities are. There is more than one geometry that works, bikes are built to serve the needs of the rider and the occassion, and the more bikes one has ridden the more one learns about them. Riding fixed gear on the road, track racing, tandem riding, and even trike riding all teach the openminded framebuilder valuable lessons. It's quite clear that one can love and enjoy many different bikes, all of which may be quite different, wheather production or custom made. I hear all the time about people who totally LOVE a particular bike and it's something like a Nishiki Pro or something. I used to not understand that. But the fact is that many wonderful riding bikes are made from what some would consider gaspipe tubing and exhibit no workmanship whatsoever. It doesn't actually require a "master framebuilder" to make a good bike. Hundreds of thousands of Italian frames taking less than two man hours to build thrill many of us almost every day, most of which will last at least a lifetime. So it's really hard to put your finger on exactly why we consider one frame "better" than another. The point of diminishing returns comes up quite quickly in the framebuilding process; but those who like to put in the extra effort to make something distinctive for a special customer who appreciates their style and dedication to craftsmanship should be given the respect they deserve. Calling artiscic frames sour grapes tends to suggest that there is something else other than appreciation for our interests going on. Just my observation.
I think if you got to know some of these people better, Steven, your opinions might change. Even if it isn't you thing, it shouldn't be to hard to learn to appreciate the accomplishments of the dedicated few. I'm not interested in starting a ruckus over this issue; I'm only extending my hand. If you feel the need to jump all over my s*** then be my guest, but I will not engage in a pissing match or a name calling session. I respect your opinion and appreciate the times when you supply helpful information to benifit all of us. At this point I will only entertain gestures that will foster an understanding between us, or am perfectly happy to agree to disagree, if that is your choice.
Brian Baylis La Mesa, CA A true keeper of the flame should be able to bask in the glow of another mans' tourch.
<firstname.lastname@example.org>; <email@example.com> Sent: Friday, October 10, 2003 9:47 AM Subject: Re: [CR]Masi/Peter Rich Story
> Ya know ... there's a whole lot more to building a frame than
> just the three lugs and bottom bracket ...
> What defines a craftsman is the whole product that's produced
> not just how pretty his filework is ... the lugs are just
> a small part of the whole.
> Frame design counts. Brazing skill counts. Materials used
> Limiting your palette to Fisher or Dubois or Nervex limits good
> chunks of the rest of your palette as well, especially your tubing
> I don't want a new frame built with 531 with a 1" top tube ...
> I want my new frames built with Dedacciai Zero or True Temper
> OX Platinum or Columbus Thermachrom ... very light & very strong,
> and hey ... still luggable under a skilled torch.
> Yes, thank God that Kirk P. is out there doing his thing with
> lugs that are compatible with modern materials AND have enough
> meat to them that the craftsman can be as crazily artistic as
> they want to be.
> But on the other hand, thank God that Richard Sachs is out there
> with his very simple, delicate, understated lugs as well ...
> Keep this in mind, living in the past also limits the craftsman.
> Steven L. Sheffield
> stevens at veloworks dot com
> veloworks at worldnet dot ay tea tee dot net
> bellum pax est libertas servitus est ignoratio vis est
> ess ay ell tea ell ay kay ee sea aye tee why you ti ay aitch
> aitch tee tea pea colon [for word] slash [four ward] slash double-you
> double-yew double-ewe dot veloworks dot com [four word] slash
> ---------- Original Message -----------
> From: brian baylis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> To: Wayne Davidson <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org
> Sent: Fri, 10 Oct 2003 07:30:03 -0700
> Subject: Re: [CR]Masi/Peter Rich Story
> > Wayne,
> > That's true, by the 80's Colnagos were being produced at an alarming
> > rate. Ernesto is the KING of streamlineing framebuilding for profit.
> > Their reputation fell in terms of quality on account of that. As
> > with Masis, my fondness for them ends about 1975. Pre '75 frames
> > still show lots of character and earlier is better with all of them.
> > Personally, I feel that the advent of investment cast lugs is the
> > beginning of the end of true craftsmanship on frames, in most cases.
> > IC lugs can be reworked, but the whole point of them is to eliminate
> > the work. Thank God Kirk Pacenti was thinking in terms of still
> > allowing some room for style and creativity. I suspect his lugs may
> > be the first and only IC lugs made that way.
> > Brian Baylis
> > La Mesa, CA
> > Brian Baylis
> > La Mesa, CA
> > Wayne Davidson wrote:
> > > Hi all, well this was a good read as per usual with Brian. I would pass
> > > on the Colnago's, in the 80's it seemed that quite a lot of riders had
> > > them here, bit like Ford Cortina's or HQ Holdens, everybody owned one, it
> > > was nice to see something different like an Alan, Team Raleigh in Red,
> > > nowadays they are all Avanti's or Giant's they all look the same, just
> > > like Japanese cars, all look the same, thank goodness for vintage rides,
> > > so endith the sermon......regards wayne davidson Invers NZ "its midnight
> > > and I'm working in the morning"