Saturday, March 7, 2009


In the last week I've stared the prospect of setting up a small frame shop in the face—and been stared down. The costs of the tooling—even basic stuff—is well beyond my current means. And the fact that I have no place to build (my landlord nixed my idea of building in the spacious, concrete-floored basement of the house where I live) revealed the futility of it all. I'm going to gather tools, fixtures, etc.,—but slowly. Maybe I'll build my second frame in a few years.

There is very good news in the meantime. I met and befriended Dan Polito at NAHBS with no intention of ordering a frame from him. But I just did. He's excited about the bike, excited about collaborating on the design, and able to deliver it relatively quickly. This is a very good situation. I'm excited. The bike's tentative name is "Clive": a snootified contraction of the city he'll be built in. (Above and to the right, sporting a baffling and unfortunate hairstyle, is Clive Bell—art critic, brother-in-law to Virginia Woolf, generally irritating person. My Clive will be nicer, better-behaved, better-dressed, have better style—though he too will be interested in art, no doubt!)

Also, yesterday was very warm and sunny, so I took Briggs out for a ride. Every aspect of my bike obsession is pleasant, but the best one is still riding. I can't wait for consistently nice weather.


Ian W said...

Hey Adam,
What equipment are you in need of to build your frame. I'm assuming a Jig, but what else?

Chris from Shanghai said...

I can't wait to see the progress on Clive!

AH said...

For me, the key ingredients are:
— a surface plate
— welding (i.e. brazing) kit (tanks/regulators/torch/etc)
— design fixture for tacking
— fork jig
— t-tool to hold the rear triangle together for brazing
— surface gauges, protractors, etc.
— files, wood blocks, vise (which I have)
— a place to set all this up (this is the one that defeated me!)

You don't really NEED much beyond all the small tools and a few of the jigs. But you really do need a place to set it all up. This is the tricky part for students living in apartments! And setting up brazing equipment violates all my friends' insurance policies!

The good news is that Dan Polito has been absolutely incredible to work with. If you can find a custom builder who's excited about your project (and willing to respond to emails, say), there's no better option than working with a framebuilder. My bike (yes, I am increasingly calling him Clive) is going to be extremely cool, and well-built, reliable, etc. I'm going to ride him a lot.

OAP said...

So what type of bike is it going to be? Oh the suspense... :)

AH said...

Oh, a randonneur! (No suspense intended!) It will be quite a bit like the VO randonneur would have been, but fully "custom" in ways the VO couldn't be. Essentially everything I boasted about doing myself will be done by Dan: lighting system, custom stem, Imperial Oval fork blades, etc. I hereby promise to ride this bike in Paris-Brest-Paris 2011. It will be well used.

Alex in Berlin said...

Adam, do you have a specific color reference for Miles anywhere, other than blue-grey? a RAL or NCS or any other color system reference name? I like the color a lot and I'm thinking of copying it, but my paint shop is in another country so i can't point. I live in Berlin, so there's no chance of "wearing the same dress at the ball"! unless we are both in Paris in 2011 (and i'll definitely be wearing a black dress there). thanks.

AH said...

Hi Alex. I'm afraid I have nothing concrete to go on. But I did try to get as close as I could to the colour on p. 52 of the Golden Age of Handbuilt Bicycles book. I matched a paint chip from a paint store and brought it to Noah...