For the LFoaB kickoff of the Frame Builders Questionnaire (FBQ) I am very honored to introduce the first builder in the series... Tom Kellogg of Spectrum Cycles in Pennsylvania.
Tom works in steel and titanium. He's a legend and this is what he had to say...
1. How old are you?
2. Where were you born?
Bryn Mawr, Pa.
3. What's your earliest memory of a bicycle or something bicycle related?
Riding up and down our driveway @ age four and a half, then riding up and down the driveway standing on the saddle.
4. What was your first cycle?
My older sister's light blue Mixte.
5. How about first "high-end" cycle?
Holdsworth Pro (about '74) This is the one I got after I was hit by a car outside Salisbury UK.
6. Did (does) your family (parents, siblings, etc) ride also?
Yes, All of my three older sisters ride, the oldest one has done some racing as well. My younger brother has been racing since '72 and continues to win races pretty regularly.
7. Did you like to tinker with bikes back then?
You bet. Mostly it was pretend, but I did clean my bike regularly and oil the chain.
8. Did you ever work in a Bike Shop... if so, where/how long?
After College I worked as Bill Boston's apprentice during the summer of '76. Then I set up my own business in the back of a Schwinn shop in Allentown, Pa. for a few more months 'till I set up my own shop.
9. Have you ever done any organized racing?
I have been racing since '75. I raced the track at the regional and national level from '76 through '91. I continue to race for Tri State Velo in the 40+ and 50+ categories.
10. How about cyclo-touring?
Yes. I spent a Summer touring the British Isles in '75 and have done sporadic touring since then.
11. What job(s) did you have before frame building and also-do you have any other job currently besides frame building?
I started in the business two days after college graduation and continue to do nothing else (at least gainfully).
12. When did you start building?
Fall of '76.
13. Who would you say is your greatest influence in designing & frame building?
Design: The early National Team members that I built for in the mid to late '70s. Bill Boston who I worked for in the summer of '76.
Aesthetics: Bill Boston and Jim Redcay for simple clean lines and Mario Confente for functional detail.
Fabrication: Bill Boston for integrity and alignment, Jim Redcay for lug soldering.
14. Did you apprentice... if so, with who?
15. What's your idea of the "perfect cycle" regardless if you built it or not?
3/2.5 full titanium, seat angle to fit the body, head angle to fit the purpose, and the rest of the design and components to make sense, not to follow a trend...
16. Shooting a guess... how many frames would you say you've built?
17. Any cycles out there that you secretly wished, "Darn, I wish I'd built that!"?
One of Richard Sachs' cross bikes.
18. Your idea of the perfect client?
One who has a pretty good understanding of how they really ride, has given significant thought about their needs down the road, and trusts that I can translate that into what will do what they need it to do.
19. What defines a nightmare client in your experience?
One who claims to put all decisions in my hands but thinks that they know exactly what will work best and pushes for just that.
20. Any words of advice to up & coming frame builders?
What, are you nuts?! Don't plan on doing anything more than earning a sparse living, at best.
21. What do you find most funny or peculiar (in a kind way-not brutal) about the cycle-buying public... what don't they get or aren't they seeing?
High end customers: Some believe that the more money they throw at a purchase, the better the bike will be for them. BIG MISTAKE.
Mid-price customers: The fit of the frame does not matter much, we can just change the stem. BIG MISTAKE
Lo-end customers: Bikes should only cost $149.95.
22. What do you think of mass-produced bikes (without naming names)?
They are what they are... some work quite well, but none of them work like a well designed and built custom bicycle.
23. What cycle don't you have anymore that you wished you did?
The first bike that my parents bought for me. A German "Rixte" with a three tone candy fade paint job.
24. What cycle do you currently ride most, even if it wasn't built by you?
My current race bike is a Spectrum custom Carbon/Ti.
25. When did you last ride your bike and for how far?
I raced stage three of the Tour de Ephrata last sunday afternoon.
26. What's your idea of the perfect ride?
Saturday morning with about twenty other riders, 50-60 miles @ about18-19 mph ending up at the Uptown Cafe in Kutztown. 72 degrees, slight breeze, sunny...
27. Could you ever see yourself being Car Free... just using mass-transportation and your bike to get around?
When I have the time, I do just that, but living out on a farm, it can be somewhat difficult getting what we need without an auto.
28. Why do you think so many folks have romanticized bicycles & bicycling?
I think it boils down to the addictive high that many people get when they first get into riding. Once someone is hooked, that high, even if someone stops riding, remains in their memory.
29. Any (other) passions or hobbies in your life?
My family (My wife and three daughters), my '73 Norton.
30. If you could say one thing to Lance Armstrong what would it be?
Quit while you are ahead...
31. In a pinch... McDonalds or Burger King?
32. What kind of shampoo did you last use?
33. Favorite libation: wine, beer or fire water?
I don't drink. I am the designated driver.
34. Even though there seems to be a real tradition to it-what do you think of folks who spend more time setting up their cycle with just the right color saddle, bar tape, bags, hoods, etc than actually riding or at least commenting on the ride?
I don't have a problem with it. If that makes them happy, wonderful. I would say that about 20% of our customers fit into that category. Another 30% start out that way, but when they get on the bike, that all goes out the window and they rave about how much better the bike is than their old one or than they expected that it would be.
35. Did you go to college... if so, what was your major?
University of Rochester - Sociology
36. Your favorite music while working (if any)?
Natalie McMaster, Bluegrass, Folk, Salamander Crossing, etc. We mostly have NPR on during the day.
37. If you had it to do all over again... would you be building cycles?
38. What's your favorite lunch food during a work day in the shop?
Winter: Ramen soup with egg drop and leftovers all diced up in the mix.
Summer: Sandwich-Asiago bagel, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato.
39. When it's all said & done-what kind of legacy will you hope to have left behind?
1. Lots of folks with bikes they love.
2. Better frame design throughout the industry (already accomplished)
40. How can folks get in touch with you to order a custom cycle?