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  1. #1
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Frame customization

    There are always people who are interested in becoming framebuilders.

    Thirty years ago, I was one of them.

    Things didn't work out for me, but I get to help in the process now.

    Which leads me to the point of this message:

    You may end up doing something different, but no less important
    or interesting, as you find your fit in the world of bicycle frames.

    Now I'd like to suggest to those who are interested in framebuillding
    that they consider a career in the world of frame customization.

    There are lots of nice frames out in the worlld today that could be
    reworked to make hem more useful for people.

    Picture this: a customer comes to you with a frame and you offer her
    the following services:

    • repair broken frame parts
    • delete and/or add braze-ons
    • replace a missing fork
    • add racks, fenders, lighting, etc
    • paint and finish the frame
    • restore old transfers/decals


    The list can go on and on.

    I think there's a growing need for people who are talented in the
    various disciplines needed to customize bike frames. And a good
    customizer could do work for both the public and the bike industry.
    Preping show bikes is big business.

    And the market is open. No one has established himself as the
    leader of this segment. Here's your chance to defiine the space.

    Just a thought - Matthew

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kogswell
    There are always people who are interested in becoming framebuilders.

    Thirty years ago, I was one of them.

    Things didn't work out for me, but I get to help in the process now.

    Which leads me to the point of this message:

    You may end up doing something different, but no less important
    or interesting, as you find your fit in the world of bicycle frames.

    Now I'd like to suggest to those who are interested in framebuillding
    that they consider a career in the world of frame customization.

    There are lots of nice frames out in the worlld today that could be
    reworked to make hem more useful for people.

    Picture this: a customer comes to you with a frame and you offer her
    the following services:

    • repair broken frame parts
    • delete and/or add braze-ons
    • replace a missing fork
    • add racks, fenders, lighting, etc
    • paint and finish the frame
    • restore old transfers/decals


    The list can go on and on.

    I think there's a growing need for people who are talented in the
    various disciplines needed to customize bike frames. And a good
    customizer could do work for both the public and the bike industry.
    Preping show bikes is big business.

    And the market is open. No one has established himself as the
    leader of this segment. Here's your chance to defiine the space.

    Just a thought - Matthew
    matthew -
    doing repititive work and repairs is the BEST way to hone framebuilding
    skills. one 21st century problem is that there is no longer the pool of
    wrecked frames to work on that there were back "then". most frames made
    in the recent era don't have the inherent value that merits they be fixed
    after a collision. it's noble to fix them nonetheless, but i see fewer and fewer
    guys seeking "fix" and thinking more "replace" because there is little emotion
    attached to modern era frames.

    if one is going to either pursue framebuilding and/or repairing frames for
    what-ever reason(s), i implore this person to be fully insured for the task at
    hand. i have few things re this industry i am that steadfast on, and one of them
    is that all players be covered. many of my entries here http://richardsachs.blogspot.com
    address framebuilding issues of all shapes and sizes.
    e-RICHIE©™®

  3. #3
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by e-RICHIE
    matthew -
    doing repititive work and repairs is the BEST way to hone framebuilding
    skills. one 21st century problem is that there is no longer the pool of
    wrecked frames to work on that there were back "then". most frames made
    in the recent era don't have the inherent value that merits they be fixed
    after a collision. it's noble to fix them nonetheless, but i see fewer and fewer
    guys seeking "fix" and thinking more "replace" because there is little emotion
    attached to modern era frames.

    if one is going to either pursue framebuilding and/or repairing frames for
    what-ever reason(s), i implore this person to be fully insured for the task at
    hand. i have few things re this industry i am that steadfast on, and one of them
    is that all players be covered. many of my entries here http://richardsachs.blogspot.com
    address framebuilding issues of all shapes and sizes.
    e-RICHIE©™®
    You're too smart for me, richard.

    My ulterior motive is to sell unfinishsed frames and forks, frame and forkbuilding goods, framebuilding services and bicycle components (wheels, cranks, headsets, etc) to the customizers.

    I'd like to see a professional cusomization industry form. with walk-in shops in every major metropolitan area.

    It would start small. Customizers could do this as a second/evening job. Collaborating with local painters until they could afford their own equipment, for example. Honing, as you say, their framebuilding skills. And using forums like this to show their work and spread awareness.

    Call me a dreamer.

    I'm doing it for myself and friends now. And I can see it getting bigger as time goes on.

    Every day another new person gets marginalized out the auto culture and into the world of serious cyclng. And a recreational cyclist turns into a serious commuter. These folks will have budgets and will demand better, more-purposeful bicycles. And there will be more work for skilled customizers.

    And I think these customizers will come from the ranks of the pro/am bicycle mechanics, especially those with an interest in frame and framebuiilding.

    In he world of automobiles, customization is a HUGE business. The annual trade show in Vegas is four times as big as Comdex ever was. Americans love to customize.

    I agree with you that customizers should comport themselves professionally. And I think they should be given respect if they do. They should be welcomed by the members of the framebuilding trade as an allied craft. And I think that they could work with framebuilders to establish standards for safe, professional practices. I see experienced framebuilders like you helping to formulate and codify those standards.

    Sorry if I take this stuff too seriously. I just love it and I want to see it thrive.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kogswell
    You're too smart for me, richard.

    My ulterior motive is to sell unfinishsed frames and forks, frame and forkbuilding goods, framebuilding services and bicycle components (wheels, cranks, headsets, etc) to the customizers.

    I'd like to see a professional cusomization industry form. with walk-in shops in every major metropolitan area.

    It would start small. Customizers could do this as a second/evening job. Collaborating with local painters until they could afford their own equipment, for example. Honing, as you say, their framebuilding skills. And using forums like this to show their work and spread awareness.

    Call me a dreamer.

    I'm doing it for myself and friends now. And I can see it getting bigger as time goes on.

    Every day another new person gets marginalized out the auto culture and into the world of serious cyclng. And a recreational cyclist turns into a serious commuter. These folks will have budgets and will demand better, more-purposeful bicycles. And there will be more work for skilled customizers.

    And I think these customizers will come from the ranks of the pro/am bicycle mechanics, especially those with an interest in frame and framebuiilding.

    In he world of automobiles, customization is a HUGE business. The annual trade show in Vegas is four times as big as Comdex ever was. Americans love to customize.

    I agree with you that customizers should comport themselves professionally. And I think they should be given respect if they do. They should be welcomed by the members of the framebuilding trade as an allied craft. And I think that they could work with framebuilders to establish standards for safe, professional practices. I see experienced framebuilders like you helping to formulate and codify those standards.

    Sorry if I take this stuff too seriously. I just love it and I want to see it thrive.

    yeah what you said.
    if it gets anywhere near "that" level, i'd wager it couldn't
    be done without standards. my beef is when folks talk
    about framebuilding as being "a craft..." and are cavalier or
    ambivilant about taking the final product out into traffic,
    as though, "well, what could happen? i used silver brazing
    and butted tubing like we did back in that class i took...".

    i don't mean to broadstroke, but there is a serious delination
    between making one for the heluvit and making one that
    will ridden by a client. we're not talking pottery or water
    colors here; these are bicycles.
    hmmm. hey - thanks for reading.
    e-RICHIE©™®

  5. #5
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kogswell
    My ulterior motive is to sell unfinishsed frames and forks, frame and forkbuilding goods, framebuilding services and bicycle components (wheels, cranks, headsets, etc) to the customizers.
    Ahhh so that's the reason for your original post! (not that there's anything wrong with that!)

    Ok here's a thought - I'm one who thinks that Tig welding is a little, shall we say, "industrial". In my opinion Tig was brought to bike frames for the purpose of lowering building costs and providing frames for those who are not interested in the art of lugs and fillets. Could a fellow buy a Tig frame (so the hard work of obtaining a frame is already done) and then fillet braze that frame at home?

    Has anyone ever fillet brazed over the top of Tig?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    snipped: In my opinion Tig was brought to bike frames for the purpose of lowering building costs and providing frames for those who are not interested in the art of lugs and fillets.

    that's not true.
    industry embraced welding during the early mtb era in
    which the still steel-based market sought to join pipes
    that had no conventional shape, diameter, or angle.
    rather than make a lug for every application, welding
    was used. in time, the aesthetic would become common-
    place. by the 90s, even welded road frames were ubiquitous.
    e-RICHIE©™®

  7. #7
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by e-RICHIE
    that's not true.
    industry embraced welding during the early mtb era in
    which the still steel-based market sought to join pipes
    that had no conventional shape, diameter, or angle.
    rather than make a lug for every application, welding
    was used. in time, the aesthetic would become common-
    place. by the 90s, even welded road frames were ubiquitous.
    e-RICHIE©™®
    Ahh that's quite true; why didn't I remember that? But it seems to have since morphed into the quick way to build frames. I talked to a custom Canadian framebuilder last week who got his start in the mid '70s with lugged road and track frames. I had one of each of them. The company now builds "two or three" (their words) lugged frames per year and he was reluctant to do one for me - even though I would have been happy with conventional shaped tubing, diameters and angles. When asked how fast he could make me a Tig frame the answer was "Two days if I [he] wanted. Start in the morning, paint in the afternoon and the next morning, ship it the same day". Try that with lugs or FB eh?

    This builder never did start into Tig the way that most did - unconventional angled mtb framesets.

  8. #8
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by e-RICHIE
    that's not true.
    industry embraced welding during the early mtb era in
    which the still steel-based market sought to join pipes
    that had no conventional shape, diameter, or angle.
    Hmmm maybe upon reflection I'll stand by my statement of "In my opinion Tig was brought to bike frames for the purpose of lowering building costs". The early builders who had to contend with unconventional angles - the Breezes, Ritcheys and Fishers etcetera - used the conventional way of dealing with such issues - fillet brazing. When the Ritchey mtb was cloned by Specialized (the famous Stumpjumper) it arrived on these shores in its Tigged glory, all, I'll bet, in aid of saving time and thus money.

    If any frame was tig welded before that time, or for another purpose, I have no knowledge of it.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    Hmmm maybe upon reflection I'll stand by my statement of "In my opinion Tig was brought to bike frames for the purpose of lowering building costs". The early builders who had to contend with unconventional angles - the Breezes, Ritcheys and Fishers etcetera - used the conventional way of dealing with such issues - fillet brazing. When the Ritchey mtb was cloned by Specialized (the famous Stumpjumper) it arrived on these shores in its Tigged glory, all, I'll bet, in aid of saving time and thus money.

    If any frame was tig welded before that time, or for another purpose, I have no knowledge of it.

    ti frames in the early 70s were tig welded.
    lotsa stuff was tig welded back then and before
    that too; you only become aware of it when a
    name brand finally embraces it.

  10. #10
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    When the Ritchey mtb was cloned by Specialized (the famous Stumpjumper) it arrived on these shores in its Tigged glory, all, I'll bet, in aid of saving time and thus money.
    Umm, no. The first Stumpjumpers were lugged. And the Stump Sports. And the Univega Alpina. Etc., etc.

    They were made by Toyo.

    Mike Sinyard paid for a one year exclusive on the lugs and Araya rims. No money savings there.

    I only know that because I worked at Specialized from '81 to '83.

  11. #11
    Upstanding member. Mike T.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kogswell
    Umm, no. The first Stumpjumpers were lugged. And the Stump Sports. And the Univega Alpina. Etc., etc.
    They were made by Toyo.
    Mike Sinyard paid for a one year exclusive on the lugs and Araya rims. No money savings there.
    I only know that because I worked at Specialized from '81 to '83.
    Which just goes to prove I don't know 3/5ths of SFA then! My wine glass is empty, you guys try to prove me wrong on that one eh! Ha, I knew I'd win one eventually.

  12. #12
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by e-RICHIE
    yeah what you said.
    if it gets anywhere near "that" level, i'd wager it couldn't
    be done without standards. my beef is when folks talk
    about framebuilding as being "a craft..." and are cavalier or
    ambivilant about taking the final product out into traffic,
    as though, "well, what could happen? i used silver brazing
    and butted tubing like we did back in that class i took...".

    i don't mean to broadstroke, but there is a serious delination
    between making one for the heluvit and making one that
    will ridden by a client. we're not talking pottery or water
    colors here; these are bicycles.
    hmmm. hey - thanks for reading.
    e-RICHIE©™®
    craft (krăft)
    n.

    1. Skill in doing or making something, as in the arts; proficiency.
    2. An occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or skilled artistry.
    3. The membership of such an occupation or trade; guild.

    Believe me, I know it's not water color.

    There's a reason I don't builld frames for others: their well being.

    I like safe things. So do the nice people at NIPC

  13. #13
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Here's a perfect example right here on BF:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...85#post1938485

    This guy took a nice, older lugged steel Schwinn and is in the process of converting it a fixee,

    Schwinns of that ilk are smooth and solid. With just bit of modification, that biike could be better than any $600 fixee-in-a-box.

    For half that much it could be tweaked and made into a real sweet ride.
    Last edited by Kogswell; 12-18-05 at 04:23 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kogswell
    craft (kr?ft)
    n.

    1. Skill in doing or making something, as in the arts; proficiency.
    2. An occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or skilled artistry.
    3. The membership of such an occupation or trade; guild.

    Believe me, I know it's not water color.

    There's a reason I don't builld frames for others: their well being.

    I like safe things. So do the nice people at NIPC
    i agree with you.
    if only the rank and file on frameforum.net
    and on the frame phred email list followed your
    line of thinking...

  15. #15
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike T.
    Which just goes to prove I don't know 3/5ths of SFA then! My wine glass is empty, you guys try to prove me wrong on that one eh! Ha, I knew I'd win one eventually.
    Ha!

    If it make you feel better, RS beats me every time.

  16. #16
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    Matthew

    I'm not much of a cyclist, my only rides are to and from work and around the city, but I think your idea of frame shops in major cities is a great idea. I'm currently commuting on a fixed road frame conversion. It still has the shifter bosses on the downtube, the cable guides on the top tube, and a chainhanger on the right chainstay. My current options are a 3 hour drive to rural Virginia to a framebuilder out there, send my frame to Indiana -- spicer cycles, send my frame to Pennsylvania -- Spectrum, or hacksaw the brazeons myself.

    While I'm all for supporting framebuilders, sending my bike off to one of these guys isn't worth it. This is my commuter; I need it for getting around. That's at least a week or so that my ride's out of commission.

    In the end, it's only aesthetics, but it sure would be great to just ride down the street and not have to worry about shipping or damage in the mail.

    -- Martin

  17. #17
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by econobot
    Matthew

    I'm not much of a cyclist, my only rides are to and from work and around the city, but I think your idea of frame shops in major cities is a great idea. I'm currently commuting on a fixed road frame conversion. It still has the shifter bosses on the downtube, the cable guides on the top tube, and a chainhanger on the right chainstay. My current options are a 3 hour drive to rural Virginia to a framebuilder out there, send my frame to Indiana -- spicer cycles, send my frame to Pennsylvania -- Spectrum, or hacksaw the brazeons myself.

    While I'm all for supporting framebuilders, sending my bike off to one of these guys isn't worth it. This is my commuter; I need it for getting around. That's at least a week or so that my ride's out of commission.

    In the end, it's only aesthetics, but it sure would be great to just ride down the street and not have to worry about shipping or damage in the mail.

    -- Martin
    Martin,

    Braze-ons are super easy to remove.

    Get a MAPP or Propane torch, heat them to cherry red and then snap them off quickly w/ a big plier.

    Use varyning grades of sand paper to take down the remaining brass. Be sure to wrap the sandpaper around the tube to avoid flat spots.

    I rode a Dawes road frame converted to fixed for a LONG time. It had a black lacquer finish that I added to each Spring during its yearly overhaul. Spray lacquer is a very good finish. It dries quickly so you can layer on a half dozen coats in a weekend. Each year the paint just got better.

    Conversions are fun. You just don't care as much, so you're more relaxed about them.

    And have you ever noticed the inverse relationship between the cost of a bike and how fit the rider is?

  18. #18
    Industry Maven Thylacine's Avatar
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    I think the other thing not mentioned is that 'frame customisation' more often than not these days starts with a blank sheet of paper, not from someone wanting to modify an existing frame any further than turning a gearie into a fixie or chopping off a few cablestops. That's the only enquiries I get, anyway.

    I also find that guys that used to do these types of mods seem to have less and less time for it these days, and would prefer to do new builds. I'm guessing there's just no margin in this type of work, or they just couldn't be bothered for a variety of reasons. Maybe you guys can enlighten me on this?

    I definitely think there should be more places offering simple customisation, because I hate the idea of perfectly usable bikes being trashed because the owners can't find anyone to braze-in some new dropouts for them, so from an alturistic POV I think it's a great idea.
    Have you earned your stripes? <<click here / Questions about custom frames? Chat me! - warwickg71 (AIM/iChat) ThylacineCycles (Skype)

  19. #19
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thylacine
    I think the other thing not mentioned is that 'frame customisation' more often than not these days starts with a blank sheet of paper, not from someone wanting to modify an existing frame any further than turning a gearie into a fixie or chopping off a few cablestops. That's the only enquiries I get, anyway.

    I also find that guys that used to do these types of mods seem to have less and less time for it these days, and would prefer to do new builds. I'm guessing there's just no margin in this type of work, or they just couldn't be bothered for a variety of reasons. Maybe you guys can enlighten me on this?

    I definitely think there should be more places offering simple customisation, because I hate the idea of perfectly usable bikes being trashed because the owners can't find anyone to braze-in some new dropouts for them, so from an alturistic POV I think it's a great idea.
    I know what you're as saying. There are lots of reasons to start with a blank sheet. And, as RS pointed out, the pool of good frames that can be customized is shrinking.

    I just wish there were customizers close to my customers. I'd love to be able to send framesets to the customizers and have them finish them to a customer's spec.

  20. #20
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    While I am not a framebuilder, we have designed several tandems through the years to fit us by such competent builders as Matt Assernmacher (Michigan), Colin Laing (England and Phoenix, AZ), Co-Motion (Eugene, OR) and finally, by Bob Davis (ariZona Tandems) a carbon fiber specialist (Peoria, AZ).
    A good framebuilder is a competent craftsman/artisan/cyclist that can take people's ideas and turn them into reality.
    Back in 1977 Matt built us a tandem to our specs, that weighed in at a then incredible 34 pounds; pundits/experts said frame would break; they were right, frame broke at 50,000 and 56,000 miles.
    Colin built us the most incredible work of rolling art with mixed tubing and handmade lugs (that took him 40 hours to craft) + an experimental fork.
    Co-motion did the most seamless fillet brazing and custom building and paint. That's when it was still 3 guys (Dwan/Dan/Butch) working out of a converted garage).
    Bob, who runs a 1-man shop, built us an amazingly light/maneuverable/comfortable (26 1/2 lb.) c/f 2-seater with such exquisite details like a 'retro' carbon lugged frame (with window cutouts), and such innovative/prototype ideas as adjustable c/f stoker stem, stoker pegs and a one-of custom c/f rack.
    Yes, we paid more than an off-the-rack machine adapted to fit us; instead we rode a custom fitted/built machine reflecting our wants/needs.
    Quality will outlast mediocrity any time!
    Pedal on!
    Rudy and Kay/zonatandem

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kogswell
    Braze-ons are super easy to remove.

    Get a MAPP or Propane torch, heat them to cherry red and then snap them off quickly w/ a big plier.

    Use varyning grades of sand paper to take down the remaining brass. Be sure to wrap the sandpaper around the tube to avoid flat spots.
    Thanks for your tips. I'll have to try that in the new year.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kogswell
    I rode a Dawes road frame converted to fixed for a LONG time. It had a black lacquer finish that I added to each Spring during its yearly overhaul. Spray lacquer is a very good finish. It dries quickly so you can layer on a half dozen coats in a weekend. Each year the paint just got better.
    Would using Powder Coat Masking Tape around the brazeons allow me to keep the paint from being burnt?

  23. #23
    Matthew Grimm / Flunky Kogswell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by econobot
    Would using Powder Coat Masking Tape around the brazeons allow me to keep the paint from being burnt?
    Nah. The heat is conducted around and ruins the paint.

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