Re: [CR] Braxton touring on ebay

(Example: Production Builders)

From: "Robb Rasmussen" <>
To: "" <>
Date: Tue, 18 Jan 2011 14:43:26 +0000
In-Reply-To: <>
References: <>
Subject: Re: [CR] Braxton touring on ebay

Love the note on Sam Braxton. I worked at The Cyclist in Missoula, Montana from February 75 to late 76. Later I worked at Custom Cycle for a short period. They also built frames in Missoula, and that is where I saw my first Trek frames.

The Cyclist sold Raleigh, Campania, frames and whatever else they were able to get. I remember lots of low end French bikes.

A part owner, Dennis Sparrow, soon arrived back from 6 months in England, where he worked (for free, I think) for Geoffrey Butler to learn framebuilding. He brought back frames from MKM, Chas Roberts, FLying Scott and others.

When Dennis Sparrow finished his first frame, the majority owner, John Schubert took the first frame over to Braxton's.

Sam took one look, said (really huffed) that the head tube was crooked and proceeded to throw the frame on an alignment table. John had hair nearly to his waist, was a competitor of Sam's. It was interesting for this 21 year old aspiring bike mechanic to witness this interaction with two leading figures in the bicycle touring and framebuilding scene in Missoula. Sam always called Sparrow swallow and never respected his competition. Derek sent me a copy of a newspaper clipping from about 1980 or so that showed the rivalry between these two framebuilders in Missoula.

I was impressed that Sam and Shirley always rode TOSRV. Very strongly I might add.

It was an interesting time to work in Missoula, as thousands of cross country tourist's stopped in The Cyclist, as we were the closest shop to the BikeCentennial Headquarters. Just over the Higgins avenue bridge. Hansen's homemade ice cream shop was just next door to the window where I plied my bicycle repair trade. It was fun watching all the cyclists eating ice cream while outside the shop. I ended up in Missoula because in 1974 I rode my bicycle from Lake Chelan to Rapid City, South Dakota.

Thanks for bringing back my memories. I got a Sparrow touring frame in 1979 that I still have.

Robb Rasmussen

Brookings, SD 57006 USA
> Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2011 18:33:13 -0800
> From:
> To:
> CC:
> Subject: [CR] Braxton touring on ebay
> Derek - nice note on Braxton. The bike on ebay has the Braxton specialty; phil wood hubs, Super champion rims and 4x spokes for the Light Touring wheel package.
> Sam and Gary MacFaddon wrote a great book on bicyles and frame design for touring in 1982. He addressed chain ring setup for three rings or two rings, wheel design and brakes. He also moved the shift lever position to the head tube, which for some can be more comfortable than the down tube position.
> His book spoke about Ian Hibbell stopping in his shop over a few years, but only mentioned Sam making modifications to his drive chain. He gave Hibbell a gear set-up w/ 46/38 on the front and a 14-31 freewheel for his tour of the Peruvian Andes.
> Do you know what the significance of his serial numbering is - mine is 012 7AE, and I saw another Braxton with 0123AE?
> Brian Van Baush
> Anacortes, WA USA
> Date: Mon, 17 Jan 2011 14:15:15 -0800
> From: Jim Merz <>
> Subject: Re: [CR] Braxton touring on ebay
> To: "Dr. Paddle" <>
> Cc:
> Message-ID:
> <>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
> I met Sam in his shop must have been 1975 or so. On a big loop kind of
> covering the Lewis and Clark trail. This was after my trip to Panama and I
> had some experience building bikes and racks since then. After a long day we
> came into the shop and Sam first thing says my setup is not going to work.
> You can't put all the weight on the front like my bike had. We just about
> got in a fist fight right there. I think his wife broke us apart. When we
> cooled off from that and he figured out that I had done some touring we
> became friends. Stayed in his house and dinner. He did things differently
> than me, but had his reasons. I never rode one of his bikes, but he did make
> at least one bike for Ian Hibell (see article below), so they must have been
> somewhat functional.
> I never did get to meet Hibell, but that guy was really into touring.
> RIP Sam
> Jim Merz
> Big Sur CA
> On Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 1:52 PM, Dr. Paddle <> wrote:
> > Sam built a bike for me in the early '80s. It was gorgeous. It had the
> > front and rear racks, Mafac cantis, brake and stay bridges that pierced the
> > stays, and excellent workmanship. The equipment was top-line French with
> > Phil hubs as in the eBay offering. Thing is, though, I never liked the way
> > it rode. It was nearly impossible to ride with hands off the bars. The front
> > wheel would fall to the side, even when the bike was unloaded. I theorized
> > that the bad handling was due to the very shallow head angle. Do you have a
> > similar problem with your Braxtons?
> >
> > I kept the bike as an object of art more than anything else until the early
> > '90s when a cashflow issue associated with a new family and house forced me
> > to sell most of my bike stuff. I consigned it through R&E in Seattle, as
> > there was no market for touring bikes in San Diego at the time.
> >
> > Kevin Montgomery
> > San Diego, California
> >
> > --- On Mon, 1/17/11, <> wrote:
> >
> >
> > From: <>
> > Subject: [CR] Braxton touring on ebay
> > To:
> > Date: Monday, January 17, 2011, 1:25 PM
> >
> >
> > Stumbled across this earlier today - a really fine example of a Braxton
> > touring bike - 21" seat tube. Based on the diamond reinforcements on the
> > waterbottle braze-ons and the reverse placement of the rear brake - a
> > style Sam adopted from his time spent studying under Jack and Norm Taylor
> > - it's probably late '70s; he'd dropped this style by about '81 in favor
> > of cantilevers on almost all of his touring bikes. Since there's no
> > tubing decal, it's likely a blend of Reynolds and Ishiwata. TA, Simplex
> > SLJ, Phil hubs, BB and CHP pedals, Campy sidepuls with Mathauser pads and
> > Mafac levers, lovely brazed on rear rack. Fairly high spec for one of
> > Sam's bikes of this era, and in what appears to be exceptional shape.
> > I'd add it to my fleet - I own 4 Braxtons - but there's a bit of a cash
> > flow issue just now. Somebody on this list should jump on this.
> >
> >
> ><blah>
> >
> > No relation to the seller, etc.
> >
> > Derek Vandeberg
> > Bigfork