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MarkoPolo gets a new Kirk

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MarkoPolo gets a new Kirk

Old 06-15-12, 10:25 AM
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MarkoPolo gets a new Kirk

I posted this in the NorCal forum, but gomango suggested I crosspost it here, as you might also appreciate the story and pics...

-------------------------------

So this is kind of a long story (about 16 months long)...

In February of 2011, Bigbossman and I made a trip to Austin TX to listen to guitar blues, drink cheap well drinks, and ride with some folks from the C&V forum - some of whom climb hills slower than we do. But mostly we went to visit the North American Handmade Bike show, which is the annual ground-zero mashup of old curmudgeon frame builders who still think steel is the finest material ever for building bike frames. The older I get, the more comfortable I am with the "steel-is-real" retro-grouch vibe and who knows, maybe carbon fiber really does explode on contact. So we went to hang with our people.

Rather than just ogle the hardware, intricate lugwork, and ridiculously over-designed fixed gear bikes, I actually had a specific purpose. I'd been thinking of getting a custom frame made (long body, short legs), and there were a few frame builders whose work I had admired online. In particular, I wanted to talk to Dave Kirk who cut his frame building teeth at Serotta for many years, and then moved to the wilds of Bozeman Montana to open Kirk Frameworks, his one-man shop dedicated to creating custom steel road frames one at a time.

Before I even talked to Dave, I was smitten by 3 drop-dead gorgeous frame examples in his booth. One was left unpainted just to show off his brazing skills. Then after a couple of conversations about his thoughts on design and explaining the process, I was pretty much sold. What got me was the combination of old-school craftsmanship with a modern "technician's" view of a bike's purpose and how frames and forks should be designed. Plus his attention to detail on his lugwork is both elegant and flawless.

A few days after leaving Austin and reading through every comment ever made online about his frames (universally positive), I made the decision and dropped the deposit for the frame. Oh, did I mention he has a 12-14 month lead time before you get your frame. Yeah, well there's that.

In early October I get an email from Dave, telling me he's ready to work on my bike in a couple of weeks. After a couple of back and forth emails with specs, designs, ideas and decisions, he set to work and in short order the frame was built...



Here's a closeup of the unpainted seat post cluster



So, while I'm really excited the frame is complete, the bad news is (remember this is a 16 month long story) Dave now has to send it to Joe Bell, who is considered one of the top 2 bike painters in the US, and who has a long, long backlog of work to do. So it's not until this March - oddly enough at the 2012 NAHBS in Sacramento - that I get to meet once again with Dave and with Joe Bell to discuss the paint design. We decide on a color scheme. I think I might have a painted frame by end of March... Hmm... no, maybe by end of April. Well patience is rewarded and finally in late May I get to see photos of the finished frame and it's on it's way to California...







Once it arrived, it took me less than 48 hours to get her built up.







Campy Record Triple (10sp) group, Deda Zero 100 cockpit and seatpost, Fizik Kurve Bull saddle, Hed Ardennes SL wheels.

After a short shakedown cruise last Friday afternoon to make sure everything was in working order, she got her first real test on Saturday with BBM and Bikingshearer as we tackled the 30MPH headwinds of the Canyon Classic from Patterson up Del Puerto Canyon.
The early reports... fits like a glove and is incredibly stable and solid. And while I tried to take it easy on the 7 or 8 miles of twisting descent, the bike cornered so well, I kind of had to let it go a little bit, just to see what she could handle. And it's clear the frame is way more capable than I am!

I realize we're just only at the first date, but I smile every time I look at her so it could be true love. Now I just have to find an emerald green jersey to match!
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Old 06-15-12, 10:49 AM
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Absolutely spectacular!

Thanks for sharing, I'm sure we'll enjoy the pics and story.
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Old 06-15-12, 10:53 AM
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Very nice. Congrats!
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Old 06-15-12, 11:27 AM
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Congrats on your new Kirk! What a stunning bike! I really appreciate the classic style of the wrapped, scalloped stays, lined lugs, (Cinelli?) fork crown. Love the color, too. And nice details with the gold chain and green handlebar plugs.
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Old 06-15-12, 11:28 AM
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Just a question or two if I may?

I noticed you talked about decisions you had to make with Dave's input.

Do you get down to discussions about tubing, lugs, stays, and all of that good stuff?

..or does Dave have some pretty strong ideas about these matters?
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Old 06-15-12, 11:52 AM
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Beautiful!!

A Kirk like this, with fenders, would make me own only one bike.
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Old 06-15-12, 12:00 PM
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holy crap that seatstay wrap
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Old 06-15-12, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by gomango View Post
Just a question or two if I may?

I noticed you talked about decisions you had to make with Dave's input.

Do you get down to discussions about tubing, lugs, stays, and all of that good stuff?

..or does Dave have some pretty strong ideas about these matters?
The discussions were around my needs on a bike... lots of physical measurements, how I ride, what it was for, etc... Dave is very clear what type of frames he builds, but there options. Biggest decision was whether or not to use his unique and patented terraplane rear stays. In my case, I love the sidetrack stays so much and Dave suggested that my riding style and my "robust" size would lessen the advantages of the terraplane stays which are designed specifically to keep the rear tire in better contact with the ground. We also discussed using oversized tubing and if I was a more competitive rider that would have been a better option. He uses a couple of different lug types, but the Llewellyn lugs he used for my bike seem to be his "standard" and they look great. He has said elsewhere that he uses Reynolds tubing sets that are custom made for him. My frame is what Dave brands a JKS model and I believe he uses 953 tubing exclusively for the JKS frames. More importantly, Dave has made thousands of frames, I've made exactly none, so I was paying for his expertise and knowledge, not trying to provide any inexpert and silly advice that he should ignore anyway!
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Old 06-15-12, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by gaucho777 View Post
Congrats on your new Kirk! What a stunning bike! I really appreciate the classic style of the wrapped, scalloped stays, lined lugs, (Cinelli?) fork crown. Love the color, too. And nice details with the gold chain and green handlebar plugs.
As I mentioned below they are Llewellen lugs. Thanks for noticing the gold chain and green plugs. I was afraid it would be to much bling, but it works with the gold pinstripes in the lugs. Even bigbossman thought the plugs looked good and he's always finding something to nitpick...
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Old 06-15-12, 01:52 PM
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Wow, very very nice. I meant to stop by his shop when I was Bozeman last week, but ran out of time.
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Old 06-15-12, 01:54 PM
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Saying that I love it would be an understatement. If someone game me a certificate for one free frame from an American builder, it would be between Mr. Kirk, Mr. Kellogg, Mr. Sachs, Mr. Mooney and Mr. Weigle.
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Old 06-15-12, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkoPolo View Post
The discussions were around my needs on a bike... lots of physical measurements, how I ride, what it was for, etc... Dave is very clear what type of frames he builds, but there options. Biggest decision was whether or not to use his unique and patented terraplane rear stays. In my case, I love the sidetrack stays so much and Dave suggested that my riding style and my "robust" size would lessen the advantages of the terraplane stays which are designed specifically to keep the rear tire in better contact with the ground. We also discussed using oversized tubing and if I was a more competitive rider that would have been a better option. He uses a couple of different lug types, but the Llewellyn lugs he used for my bike seem to be his "standard" and they look great. He has said elsewhere that he uses Reynolds tubing sets that are custom made for him. My frame is what Dave brands a JKS model and I believe he uses 953 tubing exclusively for the JKS frames. More importantly, Dave has made thousands of frames, I've made exactly none, so I was paying for his expertise and knowledge, not trying to provide any inexpert and silly advice that he should ignore anyway!
All very helpful info for a drooling fool in St. Paul.

So many extra nice frame details and the build itself is so right.

I'd imagine that Campy triple comes in mighty handy in Northern California.

I would need that and a portable oxygen tank if I lived out there.

We get whiney here if the hill is 7%!

...and lasts a quarter of a mile.
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Old 06-15-12, 03:07 PM
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Love the handlebar plugs (I do the same thing), seat stay detail and lug lining- very, very classy. PM me your address- I have a minor part in green I'd like to gift you that would also be a nice touch.

Not generally one to critique or suggest changes to others' love objects, but you might want to consider a custom green and white stem, possibly lugged, with a spacer that hides the lower portion of the steer tube. Not too fancy on the lugs, please.

My best to BBM next time you see him.
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Old 06-15-12, 04:10 PM
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Holy mackerel! I love the color!
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Old 06-15-12, 04:24 PM
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The only problem I see is your choice of riding partners.

Frigging beautiful bike, Dave is one of the best. I would wager you could go over it with a microscope, and not find a flaw in the brazing or the paint.

Well worth the wait, eh?
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Old 06-15-12, 04:50 PM
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What a beauty. Sorta reminds me of the 2 boxes of Thin Mints I bought while we avoided dinner in Austin.

Jagwire makes a gold housing kit that would be just stunning, if you feel like unwrapping and going to the trouble.
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Old 06-15-12, 05:34 PM
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Fantastic........



much jealousy
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Old 06-15-12, 08:29 PM
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Gorgeous.
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Old 06-15-12, 09:48 PM
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^ absolutely...
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Old 06-15-12, 10:39 PM
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I think "achingly beautiful" sums it up for me. I want that bike so bad it hurts...
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Old 06-15-12, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by teetime View Post
The only problem I see is your choice of riding partners.
I'd say I resent that, but I really can't argue with you.

The photos don't do it justice. Saying it is gorgeous is a serious understatement.
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Old 06-17-12, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by rccardr View Post
Love the handlebar plugs (I do the same thing), seat stay detail and lug lining- very, very classy. PM me your address- I have a minor part in green I'd like to gift you that would also be a nice touch.

Not generally one to critique or suggest changes to others' love objects, but you might want to consider a custom green and white stem, possibly lugged, with a spacer that hides the lower portion of the steer tube. Not too fancy on the lugs, please.

My best to BBM next time you see him.
Thank you for the kind offer. I'll PM you.

I thought about a painted stem for a minute or two but quickly discarded the idea. While there is no doubt they can be beautiful, in my mind it felt like a little too much icing on the cake. There's some kind of line drawn between functional beauty and over-design, and each of us has a different esthetic sense as to where the line falls. This of course coming from a guy who had his damn lugs pinstriped in gold!

Originally Posted by teetime View Post
The only problem I see is your choice of riding partners.
Well worth the wait, eh?
Well sometimes you gotta dance with the girl you brung. Bigbossman and bikingshearer put up with me, so the least I can do is reciprocate. And, yeah, it was worth the wait!

Originally Posted by RobbieTunes View Post
What a beauty. Sorta reminds me of the 2 boxes of Thin Mints I bought while we avoided dinner in Austin.

Jagwire makes a gold housing kit that would be just stunning, if you feel like unwrapping and going to the trouble.
So you don't think there is enough gold bling on that thing!

Thanks for all the kind words. Much appreciated.
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Old 06-17-12, 06:26 PM
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Oooooooh.....nice!
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Old 06-17-12, 10:45 PM
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What a wonderful jaw-droppingly beautiful road racer. Fantastic paint and color, too. And first rate Campy gruppo. Every Dave Kirk shown on here really seems to exemplify the master touch to the Nth degree.

Just that bulbous threadless stem on a skinny-tubed frame... appears mis-matched. It probably twists less than a skinny threaded stem in a hard sprint, but was that functionality considered part of the intended mission?

You're probably still basking in your new baby's halcyon glow, so no rain on that parade, just congrats on ponying up and waiting for the best & wishes for many great rides together.
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Old 06-17-12, 11:26 PM
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Nice! It's hard for me to tell, are the seat stay caps chromed.... or are they just that shiny?
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