Re: [CR]American Frame builders taking their inspiration from theItalians

(Example: Racing)

Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2006 18:21:16 -0800
From: "Chuck Schmidt" <>
Subject: Re: [CR]American Frame builders taking their inspiration from theItalians

Ritchie Sachs off list response (I checked for an okay): <I have to disagree. Richard Sachs was inspired by Masi. Period.>

this is silly. i wanted to make bicycles for reasons that are clearly mapped out in many online articles and various archived CR posts. my only role model was bill hurlow - the man, not the bicycle. that anecdotal information is also in the public domain.

i went to england because all of my begs-for-work were sent to builders that advertised in international cycle sport. i sent 30 some-odd letters. i got 3 replies; two "no's" from bob jackson and ellis briggs, and one "yes" from ernie witcomb. i went to england.

after a few years with all this, i started my own business. lee katz from turin had a stash of nervex ref32 lugs and i bought them. my first 200 frames had these. in 1977 i met monique pegg from m. yvars, a paris-based parts distributor. she agreed to order lugs for me directly from etablissement ets dubois (or something like that) and if i agreed to quanities of 250 sets at a clip, i could get any of 4 different lug angles at each corner, and i could get any lug cutout i wanted. the one i chose was noted on the invoice as "avec coeur", but clearly it did not look like a heart.

now - to be clear: these are not masi lugs and these are not masi-style lugs. as i have posted many times on CR, in europe, there were many, many fine builders that used a similar aesthetic and similar parts, and none of these were copying masi. liotto, tommasini, derosa, select (from austria), picchio, patelli, paletti, etcetera are the names that i recall. the CR list rank and file is masi-centric because of the turn of events caused by roland salm's machinations during the 70s bike boom. myself, i was not caught up in that vortex. on the other hand, i was not able to escape the media interest in mario during his tabloid departure from masi cal, and while it was all happening i became interested in his story. to be completely shallow and transparent about it, i was struck by the aura that surrounded his story. again - it was not about his framebuilding per se, it was about the aura. and, as i did with the bill hurlow personna, i tried to assimilate some of what i thought was part of the confente aura. heck - i was shallow...

so far you'll be able to discern that i was never influence by a brand of bicycle, and if you don't get that, i'll question your reading skills. by the late 70s, i had finally seen a frame that drew me in to such a degree that i was compelled to use it (its quality) as a bar with which i would measure my own skills. that frame was made by nagasawa. i posted about this seminal discovery many times whist still a CR lister, and here is just one of many links:

also, in the late 70s, i saw the b/w film about jim d'aquisto and his guitar making, tracing his roots from a helper at jim d'angelico's shop through to starting his own marque after his mentor's untimely death. that film and story resonated with me. the same thing happened when an RS client versed me on bespoke british shotguns and gave me information on james purdeys eponymous firm. major resonation. and the entire thing happened again in the mid 80s when the ny times did a story on hudson river valley oboe maker, paul laubin. oh - and to cap it off, during that same time a local bookshop sold me a copy of george nakashima's "the soul of the tree". yowza-issimo, if you catch my drift yo!

so - to be fair, the only bicycle frame(s) that ever reeeeeeally influenced me was the ones i recall seeing that were made by mr. nagasawa. other than that, i was always driven to make frames well, and with elan - whatever that meant in whatever era i was making them in - but my real muses were never bicycles, they were people. i guess i've already mentioned bill hurlow, mario, and mr. nagasawa. in my opinion, the real influences came from outside the industry as stated above.

it's been years - YEARS - since i looked at bicycles and drew any inspiration. yeah - i know good ones from bad ones, and i have my opinions about who the pretenders are. there is an imaginary strata that everyone concocts and it acts as a comfort zone and buffers the line between the real and the perceived. these days, the two guys who i believe are the most real are pal peter (weigle) and dario pegoretti.

if i were starting now (which i doubt i would), i think these two cats would be the guys i'd try to copy, assuming i was young, knew nothing, and wanted a framebuilder's life.