I suppose that as this thread attracted well over twenty emails plus others varying on the theme, someone in the UK should try to respond.. and as I seem to be the only UK builder active on the List.. I will try to fill in as far as possible. The frame-building scene over here is in its death throws - the ubiquitous ghastly aluminium TIG jobs having seen off the majority of those dozens of frame builders who were active until sometime in the early to mid-90s. A few builders have survived, either by virtue of long-standing reputations or by adapting to the new materials and techniques.. I think that other equally serious problems have contributed to the rapid decline of what at best was little more than a cottage industry after the slump in interest in cycling in the early 60s. With the exception of organisations such as the CTC (Cyclists Touring Club) ,the Audax UK group ( growing rapidly).. and a flash-in-the-pan surge in interest in track racing following Chris Boardman's epic career on the track and the opening of the new track at Manchester.. the rest of cycling, particularly road-racing, is in almost terminal decline. That back-bone of UK cycle sport - time-trialling -is now dominated by veterans, because the youngsters find the training too hard and requiring too much commitment. Club cycling, with its tradition of Sunday rides and Youth Hostelling holidays is also on the decline as youngsters prefer to spend their cash on night-clubbing and binge-drinking, and driving around in clapped-out but souped-up Citroen Saxo VTRs or Renault Cleos that they can now buy almost as cheaply as a Record-equipped Colnago... and you dont have to pedal them.... Or so the picture seems to be...
There is still a lot of cash being spent on new bikes, but those cyclists spending it are Vets who, often in comfy retirement prefer to "pose" in the latest team clothing astride the latest team bikes. I guess we have more Lance Armstrong look-a-likes per head of the cycling population than you have in the States. If they are not on TReks, then they are astride Pinarellos, Colnagos, Bianchis, Ridleys ( just a transfer I'm told) etc. You get the picture.... And of course on Giants.. There's nothing worse than a 6'2" tall gangly-legged racing man straddling a sloping top-tube 19" alloy "GROTESQUE" with 3' feet of carbon seat pillar sticking out of the frame. (Sorry about that outburst ... guess I'm just showing my age.. and preferences. Give me a Fausto Coppi poised on an elegant machine anytime) Odd thing is.. I was in Mike Burrows workshop when he was working, as a design consultant for Giant, on his next "project"... and he had the first "sloping" prototype there in the shop.. claiming he had invented the concept. He admitted the idea was not so much about performance as manufacturing ease and marketing possibilities.. Curios comparison here with the motor-cyclists who, at that certain age and with the financial clout to back them.. are turning their baks on the new machines from Japan and investing in retro-lookong machines. The explanation for the difference in attitude I am told, is that the bikers now lust after machines that they lusted after when young but could not afford.. but now can.
So having got rid of the invective I shall now try to slip into a more rational mode and try to tell you what else is going on... but that is for tomorrow.
I am deeply indebted to Paul Williams for mentioning in his email that I am a UK frame builder.. and for posting my name here on the LIst in that capacity for posterity. I am here, with torch, tubes and inclination.. and even some enquiries for frames.. but that will have to wait too.
Norris Lockley .. just thinking there's nothing quite so pleasing to the frame-builer's ear as the sound of the torch igniting.. and to the nose.. that ephemeral whiff of acetylene.. almost as good as taking in a sniff of sharp sauvignon blanc..Settle UK
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