I have been observing the trends in the handmade bicycle market, and mon itoring my own feelings and needs for bicycles as I get older (and presu meably wiser). My conclusion is partially, but not entirely, that the be st place and most practical application for a lugged steel frame in the current times, considering the materials that bicycles are built from, i s for a touring, randonnuer, or fixed gear bike. There is no doubt in my mind that lugged steel racing bikes are a thing of the past for anyone who is seriously competative as a racer.
As Mike mentioned, the totally custom nature of the touring bike lends i tself well to the versitility of steel frames; and beautifully crafted a nd artistic (or simple and well crafted) lugs fit in perfectly with the concept. A properly designed tourer will have a multitude of uses, up to and including fast and "competative" rides with your friends while stil l retaining usefulness as a utility to fetch groceries or run errands ar ound town. Needless to say, such a bicycle would be ideal for longer rid es or tours. High art and craftsmanship is at home on a randonnuer. Raci ng bikes, if lugged, are either not really raced as a rule or used prima rily for the "Sunday in the park" sort of "racing". More of a show than a race. This is what I obverve here in SoCal, and I doubt if it's a whol e lot different elsewhere.
My formost reason for my opinion as to the "wave of the future" comes as a framebuilder. To build the same style and type of bike for over 30 ye ars is really boring and presents no challenges and very little opportun ity for creativity and growth as a builder. The randonnuer bike opens up a whole new world for the creative thinker and designer to expand their skills and express their talents, while at the same time producing a us eful product that will stand the test of time for generations. A bicycle this unique will have lasting value both as a bicycle AND as a piece of art. Since I have always had a policy of making no two frames exactly a like, this gives me the avenue to continue this trend, but at a much hig her level. The more individual the bike is and the more one of a kind it is, the greater the value will be in the future. It's the same way righ t now with the classics we all ride and love.
One will probably have to see what I'm talking about to fully understand completely what I'm saying. Attend the framebuilders show in March or t he Cirque in June and you will see my first entries into the randonnuer catagory of bicycles. Part of the wave of the future will come from the fortunate few who have the patience and vision to participate in this tr end and retain the services of the best designers and craftsmen in the b usiness to build the bicycle that dreams are made of. Wait and see.
La Mesa, CA
Brian, could you give us some insights into your reasoning as to why
constructuer bikes are the way of the future?
> my interest and attention have turned to randonnuer type bikes.
> Brian Baylis
> La Mesa, CA
> I know it will take some time to take hold; but pay attention.
> Constructuer bikes are the wave of the future!