Todays installment of the FBQ features Dave Bohm of Bohemian Bicycles. Bohm builds his human powered works of art in Tucson, Arizona.
From ornate lug work to raised handcut nameplates, every cycle that leaves his shop is a one-off labor of love. Clearly and unflappably influenced by the masters of British frame building, Bohm works to further the lineage. This is what he had to say...
1. How old are you?
2. Where were you born?
I was hatched in Chicago, Illinois.
3. What's your earliest memory of a bicycle or something bicycle related?
No doubt; my Big Wheel. Rode that all the time and eventually through a sliding glass door. Still have a scar above my eye to show for that..
4. What was your first cycle?
A Schwinn Stingray in red. Still pissed at my dad for not getting me the gear shifter one
5. How about first "high-end" cycle?
An original StumpJumper. Not really “high-end” but I thought it was cool. I broke two forks having “jumping competitions” on it. Never did break the frame.
6. Did (does) your family (parents, siblings, etc) ride also?
Only if it has an engine.
7. Did you like to tinker with bikes back then?
I did very much in high school. I was a boarding school brat; we had a bike repair shop on campus. I spent a fair amount of time there.
8. Did you ever work in a Bike Shop... if so, where/how long?
No, never had the privilege. They have a tough job.
9. Have you ever done any organized racing?
Yeah, mostly, cat 3 filler. Did a few really long events and did well, won a few sprints. I wish I had been exposed to track racing at a much younger age as I think I would have really excelled at it. That is an avenue for the larger gentleman such as myself.
10. How about cyclo-touring?
Haven’t had the opportunity yet. I guarantee though, I plan on that instead of a Winnebago.
11. What job(s) did you have before frame building and also-do you have any other job currently besides frame building?
I don’t know if there is enough room on this Blog for that. I have worked in construction, restaurants, computers, and other service industries. Whatever it took to keep going. Currently I work for a software company. I just started trying to build in earnest again, after a three year hiatus.
12. When did you start building?
13. Who would you say is your greatest influence in designing & frame building?
Those influences have come around. I didn’t really have any influences when I began. Now I have cultivated an appreciation for many of the people who came before me and exist right now. I see something almost everyday in pictures or on the internet that make me go WOW! Weigle, Columbine, Baylis, Richard Moon, Singer, Bruce Gordon, Darrel McCulloch. There are so many. I do have a funny story though. I don’t know if it’s completely factual, but one of my professors in high school rode a Bruce Gordon and I just thought that was the coolest road bike. Supposedly he actually worked for Bruce Gordon, now that is the part, I don’t know if it’s true but the idea that somebody could make their own bicycle like that one, was very appealing.
14. Did you apprentice... if so, with who?
No, I went to UBI framebuilding school. The rest of it comes from working with silver jewelry as a hobby.
15. What's your idea of the "perfect cycle" regardless if you built it or not?
Something is perfect if it is supremely suited for its purpose. For instance a Chinese Flying Pigeon is a “perfect bicycle” for hundreds of millions of people.
16. Shooting a guess... how many frames would you say you've built?
Not more than 200. I am not very prolific.
17. Any cycles out there that you secretly wished, "Darn, I wish I'd built that!"?
Heck yeah! All the time. I take a little mental note and tell myself I will do that someday. Don’t know if I will, but I make a note of it.
18. Your idea of the perfect client?
One who says “whatever you want Dave” and lets me run with it.
19. What defines a nightmare client in your experience?
As a framebuilder, you have to filter your clients well. I will often push a client to another builder if I don’t feel that they fully mesh with me and what I build. Hopefully I have learned how to keep away from that nightmare client.
20. Any words of advice to up & coming frame builders?
Please write a business plan, make sure that you are not fooling yourselves on the amount of business out there and how hard it is to obtain. I make no bones about it. Framebuilding would not be enough for me to make a living on its own and only now after a decade do I get enough “reputation business” to have a nice sideline.
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?
Lemmings come to mind. I am always surprised at how responsive the general public is to advertising. With enough advertising dollars you could sell the masses almost anything. What I don’t really get is why the bulk of riders, who are non-racers want to buy racing bikes. It’s not like that in any other hobby. Take motorcycling for instance. Cruisers far outweigh race bikes. It’s all in the marketing.
22. What do you think of mass-produced bikes (without naming names)?
Heck, functionally they are excellent. Boring, Souless but…
23. What cycle don't you have anymore that you wished you did?
My 29'nr MTB that got ripped off. Yes punk, I know who you are. I am still going to find you….
24. What cycle do you currently ride most, even if it wasn't built by you?
My Van Dessel “Superfly” with a seven speed internal hub. I go to the store on it, sometimes to work. It’s fun.
25. When did you last ride your bike and for how far?
I’m a 20 miler nowadays. Just not enough time to ride the long ones. I wish though.
26. What's your idea of the perfect ride?
Other than any ride? I like the early mornings when it’s quiet and you just hear the hum of the tires.
27. Could you ever see yourself being Car Free... just using mass-transportation and your bike to get around?
I think I could. Just that the Southwest is way too spread out to not have a non-human-powered vehicle.
28. Why do you think so many folks have romanticized bicycles & bicycling?
I don’t really know. I think it represents freedom to them and if any of you have experienced life in corporate/work America we can use all the quick, free moments away from that as possible.
29. Any (other) passions or hobbies in your life?
Tons, just wish there was more time to pursue them. I would love to learn more about all aspects of metalworking, sculpture, and precious metal work.
30. If you could say one thing to Lance Armstrong what would it be?
I take the fifth on this…..
31. In a pinch... McDonalds or Burger King?
Mickies. Ok, I admit it… I have cravings for the stuff once in a while. Super Size me.
32. What kind of shampoo did you last use?
Costco gallon size of Head and Shoulders. Prevention is the key.
33. Favorite libation: wine, beer or fire water?
Tequila baby! Hornitos or maybe Don Julio. And none of that salt and lime to screw it up.
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 am real anal when it comes to stuff like that and it can even drive me nuts from time to time. Let’s not forget it’s about riding the things.
35. Did you go to college... if so, what was your major?
I attended for a long time, but never got my degree. It was supposed to be in Bio-Chemistry. Better living through Chemistry..
36. Your favorite music while working (if any)?
I like all sorts of music. Sadly, the radio gravitates to the 80’s station a little too often. I know, I have a problem. “Hello everybody, my name is Dave... Hi Dave.”
37. If you had it to do all over again... would you be building cycles?
Even though I know it’s totally retarded from a financial point of view. It is hard to think of doing anything else. This has become my identity.
38. What's your favorite lunch food during a work day in the shop?
Turkey sandwich. Easy to make and eat on the run. Pita and hummus is a second runner up.
39. When it's all said & done-what kind of legacy will you hope to have left behind?
I would hope that I was one of the few that brought framebuilding up to the next level. In my opinion, anything that is truly amazing will be loved by half and hated by the other half. If I can illicit that reaction than I have done my job. That is that whether you like it or not, that my bicycles incorporate a style and theme that until Bohemian, nobody thought of before.
I think a few have gone there. Art Stump, Columbine, Moon, McCulloch. I still have a long way to go but I have yet begun to create. I hope they just remember that wacky framebuilder.
40. How can folks get in touch with you to order a custom cycle?