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  1. #1
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    True Artistic Masters

    How many artists are left that are still building truly 100% unique and custom frames and bikes for clients, i.e. a client (presumably with deep pockets) can commission him to build every aspect of the bike, custom frame, custom components, custom paint, all by hand? Like the Chip Foose for bikes.

    Pegoretti is the first to jump to mind, but I presume he's been out of the 100% custom business for a while now. Vanilla's turned into a bit of a factory as well. How about Cherubim by Shin-Ichi Konno? Kusaka-san at Kinfolk? Anyone else that's truly an artistic master?
    Last edited by rushbikes; 03-23-12 at 10:38 PM.

  2. #2
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    Leaving your "artist" qualifier out as I don't believe bikes are art...poorly made art can't kill you....there are a number of builders with the equipment and skills to make what you describe. The level of customization is as deep as your pockets

    As for specific builders, off the top of my head- Dave Bohm, Mike Flannigan, Rody Walter, Eric Noren, and Ira Ryan can (and do) do all that.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ftwelder's Avatar
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    Wow, I went through the Live Wire list right there, holy cow.. That is some nice work there!
    1886 Surrey machinists Invincible, 1900 Nashua, 1937 Raleigh Golden Arrow, 1938 Raleigh Silver Record, 1951 Armstrong tourmalet, 1970 Motobecane Grand Record, 1971 Raleigh Professional, 1971 Gitane TDF, 1972 Legnano Gran Primio, 1973, Peugeot PX-10, 1975 Roberts, 1984 Battaglin Giro, 1985 Grandis Speciale, 2012 FTW

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  4. #4
    Andrew R Stewart Andrew R Stewart's Avatar
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    There are more builders that do sub sets of custom stuff. Spec. lugs, stems, racks even seat posts are done by a number of people. Just look at NAHBS and you'll see what i mean. Braze ons are my aspect of passion. Andy.

  5. #5
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    John Murphy (Columbine) has be as near to "master of frame building" as they get. His understanding of geometry, handling, tube specifics, metalurgy, machining, component compatibility, paint science, and some other stuff I'm sure I've missed; make him a legend in my opinion.

    I'm lucky to have first-hand experience with his frame-building skills.

  6. #6
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    "Poorly made art can't kill you"? I guess you've never seen some things that are passed off as art.
    I've seen some "metal sculptures" that could wipe out a small village if the wind hit them just right.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew R Stewart View Post
    There are more builders that do sub sets of custom stuff. Spec. lugs, stems, racks even seat posts are done by a number of people. Just look at NAHBS and you'll see what i mean. Braze ons are my aspect of passion. Andy.
    The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was probably asking the wrong question. Totally makes sense that there are individual specialists who are masters in their own right.

    I guess what I meant to ask is who are the modern legendary bike designers? I assumed that bike houses designed and built everything from start to finish, and that's probably true in most cases, but I guess a lot of the truly custom shops design and outsource much of the expertise for specific components?

  8. #8
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    "Poorly made art can't kill you"?

    Nationalist art last century probably contributed to the deaths of millions.

    I think functional objects are art in two senses. One is beauty. Raw beauty has always been regarded as one branch of art. Even if one sees art more didactically, one could say that beautiful objects are a riff on the nature of beauty.

    Second is that segment of any practical craft that gets a little self-aware and acts as a commentary on itself. Bennett's famous piece of high end cabinetry with a nail driven brutally in it's door, or a ball and claw chair I once saw in a magazine, that had one limb at a kooky angle. These are attempts to discuss the nature of what is and is not furniture. NABS has certain pieces like that, though I can't think of any at the moment that were not intended to be ridden, not that that is necessary to qualify.

    There are quite a lot of Foose types in bike building. Bikes are a lot simpler, and there are many folks who do them soup to nuts. Not even a team.

  9. #9
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    I am dreaming about a custom some day ..... just because. As i am looking around at sites/builders there is a ton beautiful bikes and approachs out there.

    I have in my mind that one element of a really complete builder/designer is that the forks are also custom to each bike, which as best i can tell is not always the case.

    beyond that looking to see what builder is doing with with lugs is always of interest.

    it also seem that the best builders often have the best painters do the paint.

    A pairing like this that comes to mind is Dave Kirk, who sends his frames to Joe Bell for painting (Rivendell uses Joe bell also) but that is not to say that there are not others out there, this is just one who I am looking at closely.
    '82 Nishiski commuter/utility
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    looking for: De Rosa 58cm ELOS frame and fork internal cable routing

  10. #10
    Grumpy Young Coot veryredbike's Avatar
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    One of the (Many) really cool things I saw at NAHBS was a custom frame by Demon frameworks (I think) with a single joined lug that took care of ht-tt and ht-dt in the art deco style. I'd call what most custom builders do both an art and a craft, but this was one of the bikes that really brought it out for me.

    The cherubim bike was also beautiful. All curve.

  11. #11
    Randomhead
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    I like a lot of framebuilder's work, but right now I look to inspiration from J.P. Weigle and Boxer. Bilenky made a really outlandish pair of his/her bikes for a customer in collaboration with Phil Wood. the bikes were shown last year at NAHBS. Generally, the old way of making your own components has faded with the rise of the big component companies. Not sure that's a bad thing really.

  12. #12
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    True Artistic Masters

    Personally, I went with Brian Baylis. I ordered my frameset in Jan 2009, and received it about a month ago. He told me he is going to retire from framebuilding, so that is probably not a realistic option for most people today. He is definitely a master of custom fabrication. Having said that, I would definitely consider Bruce Gordon for a one off custom frameset.

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