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April 29, 2005

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COOL.

I've noticed quite a few of these guys won't admit to eating fast food. Seems odd, given the success of the fast food industry in this country, that this sector of the population seems to (almost) universally avoid the stuff. I avoid it too, but once in awhile, a man finds himself at the counter ordering up a double QP with fries, no matter how hard he tries. Especially when he's out in the boonies somewhere on his bike not sure how far it is to the next "town".

Also, though Oswald isn't one of them, I also noted the general disdain among framebuilders here for the mass produced 1970's bike boom bikes. These bikes were widely variable in quality, but many were certainly very nice. Is this just bike builder snobbishness? Like, "it's ok, as long as you don't mind your bikes 1 mm from being straight." The fact that some of these bikes were ridden pretty heavily (and enjoyed at the time) and still survive today seems to contradict what these guys are saying. As we talked about before, the basic design of bikes hasn't changed, so what is it that these guys think was so inferior to the bike boom bikes, aside from style and, perhaps, the neatness of the lug soldering and brazing.

Jim, I don't think that the builders as a group are saying that the bike boom bikes are likely to fall apart and kill you. I think they are saying that QC is better today, materials are better today, manufacturing practices are better today, and alignment is better. Mass produced bikes are just better all around today, the manufacturers have a higher batting average.

I was born in 1977, so the bulk of the bike boom was before my time, and all of it was well before the time I got interested in bikes (in 2004). So, I'll take your word on the improvements in manufacturing, materials, etc.

Of course, it might be noted that the better mass produced bikes of 30 years ago were built largely or totally by hand. The fact that some machine-cut and machine-welded bikes today are straighter and have a higher degree of batch uniformity than hand-built frames isn't all that surprising. Of course, at some point, certain improvements produce diminishing returns, and we can argue about those. When I'm out on my 77 Trek, I don't have a lot of trouble going in a straight line on account of frame crookedness (granted, I did a bit of manual straightening on it before I built it up). And any degree of nonuniformity that is present doesn't seem severe enough to keep me from using standard parts.

Something that sticks out is that every one of these builders so far either races or has raced in the past.

I've been thinking about it for a week now, and I wasn't going to mention it, but now here's another racer.


Joe

Tom,

If you're checking in here. What kind of beer?

Hey folks,
I've been away from the computer for a few days - checking out the Cirque. So I'm just going to reply to the above comments in a list:

dom - Thanks!

Jim - I certainly don't mean to come off as "holier than thou" on the issue of fast food. I just ate Subway twice while on the road this weekend. But BK and McD's, the places specified in the question, I absolutely do not patronize. When not travelling, I prefer to either eat home cooked meals or support locally owned establishments.

Jim - Regarding factory made bikes, I think it's possible to be discerning without being disdainful or snobbish. Mass produced bikes serve a very important purpose - bringing bicycles within reach of most people. But they are as different from what I build as a t-shirt is from a tailor-made suit.

Joe - I can't speak for the others, but I like to involve myself with as many aspects of cycling as possible. Racing is just one of many facets for me. But it is very important. It is the best way I know of to really put my bikes to the test. Someone way smarter than me said "racing improves the breed". Plus it's super fun.

Michael - I like microbrews. I buy mostly local and regional stuff - Saranac, Ithaca Beer Co., Appalachian Brewing Co., Troegs, etc. Most of all, I love trying new ones, so if you know of anything you think I should sample, send it on. Oh yeah, and I'll need at least six of each - you know, to give it a real thorough try...

Hey Tom-

Thanks for stopping by... did you get your eye fixed up since we last spoke? ;-]

-Me (Large Fella)

Dear Large Fella,

I love your framebuilder interviews! Would you consider more? How about Tony Pereira in Portland? I just got a 29er SS custom and love it! He has a pretty interesting story, too.

Paul Germain
Midlothian, VA

Well, after urging Large Fella to interview Tony Pereira, I've also purchased one to Tom's. Again, one of the best around, I'd say. Someone who tries hard, but has fun at it, too. It's Ok to strive for perfection, but I want a bike built by someone who still loves every aspect of the business, as clearly these guys do. And it shows in the love they put into their work.
Paul Germain
Midlothian, VA

Just took my Oswald Self Contained touring bike out for its maiden ride. (photos of the bike are on Oswalds site - the white and gold one)

Rides beautifully. Tom thought out all the details very well. All the braze ons are where they are supposed to be. It has a stable ride under load but remains sprightly.

Thanks Tom!

I was just tinkering with my Ross Super Gran Tour XV today. Put new inner tubes and new Vittoria tires on it. Also had to replace the gear lever cable as it had rusted internally. Oh and new white handlebar tape. Wish I knew how to correctly identify the year it was built.

Impressive blog! -Arron

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