I was a punk before you were a punk

30 04 2009

Reading through some old e-mail I came across an observation from a friend.

So many before us.   Art Stump, GP wilson, Pino Morroni…..Later Eisentraut, Bruce Gordon and it goes on and on.   Now,  you may think that the latest spice flavor gone bicycle brand is hip and begun it all.

The Tubes say it all in the above titled song…..

**********************************************************

We were surprised when it caused all this rage
and they wouldn’t let us take the stage
We knew we had a lot of what it takes
But we didn’t get the lucky breaks
Now it’s all such a great big fuss
and they all seem to copy just us
We never got reimbursed for the punks that were first

I was a punk before you were a punk
You don’t believe me? Just step outside and see me baby
I was a punk before you were a punk
You want some action? I’ll put your ass in traction baby
I was a punk before you were
I was a punk before you
I was a punk before you were
I was a punk before you


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How long does it take?

22 04 2009

So how long does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll Tootsie pop?  The world may never know…

No, what I am talking about is how long does it take to build a bike frame.   I am also going to touch on how long it takes to do anything well by hand.  Something a lot of people today have no concept of.

O.k.  the last point first, then we will talk about how long it takes to make bike frames specifically.   Modern industrialization is an amazing thing and probably one of the biggest things to ever hit society at large.  Not many people would argue with that.   But the ability to have almost anything we want as soon as we want it has distorted our sense for how long it takes to make, craft, assembly, create anything by hand on a small scale.   From our cheese to our coca cola to cars, cabinets, carabiners, candles and carrots everything is mass produced (did you like all that alliteration?)  Well, I for one am glad for that,  It has filled my house with all I could want for cheap, but what I find interesting is that most individuals really have no idea how much effort and time can go into a handmade product.   Oh, sure some would think 10 hours is a lot.  20?  What about 200 or 400 or 4000 hours.   Yes, some of the very finest things can take that long and longer.  Think about spending a year of your life on something or even months.   Then think about why something might cost what it does.

On to bicycle frames.   To say the amount of time to construct a bicycle frame varies widely is an understatment but here are some actual numbers.   About the fastest that one can assemble a frame in a small production environment is around four hours.   You have to be very, very efficient to do this.  Good, dedicated machinery and efficient layout and good skills are necessary for this.   These types of frames are also typically TIG welded or bonded as these processes are very quick.   Next are frames that can take about 8-12 hours.   Many frambuilders, building simpler TIG welded or unfinished fillet brazed bicycles can do this.   None of what I speak of here includes the paint BTW.  That is a whole other thing I will discuss.   Now we move into Lugged bikes.    Anything that is decently made typically starts at around 12 and goes up from there.   Many of the “famous builders” spend around 18-25 hours of actual construction time.   You will get a very nice, clean frame with this kind of time input.  You will not get heavy modification, polishing, stainless, cut-outs, lug thinning or the like.   Fillet brazed frames can also take this kind of time depending on the complexity and overall finish of the fillets.   Now we move into very complex frames.  Heck, that can go from 25 up to the stratosphere.  Yes, 100’s of hours and even a little bit of bling or complexity here can add massive amounts of time, not only in the construction process but also in the paint process.   From a business POV, the fast bikes and short term lugged bikes make the most per hour.   As of yet the hyper intensive bikes can’t command the kind of dollars it would take to bring anywhere near the same profits.

Carbon fiber?  well there are kits that take just a few hours, but most carbon that is the tube and glue (not unlike metal frames) take a fair bit of time.  Often the rear ends are pre-manufactured but getting the joinery smooth and doing the joint layup well takes time.  About 15-20 hours depending.   Some a little more some a little less.

Paint.  Some powders can be done from start to finish delivered in 30 minutes and cost a couple of dollars in materials.   Paint can go from cheap at 100 dollars and 2-3 hours to once again 50 hours for complicated  graphics and decorative treatments.

Don’t underestimate how much time good work takes.   Like Orson Wells said.  I will serve no wine before it’s time….





Frame building school

22 04 2009

I am very excited about this.

What I offer is one to one instruction on how to build your own frame.   Utilizing steel and three different methods of your choice,  Lugged brazed, fillet brazed and TIG.

The course is 10 days long and you will have full use of my facilities and personalized, individual instruction based on your needs.   Once your dream frame is completed I put a beautiful coat of paint on it for you and send it back to your location.  I have been a professional framebuilder for 15 years and I am sure I can help you meet your framebuilding goals.

I have started a separate blog to keep track of all the potential questions.   Please check out the sister blog at to your right or here.

http://bohemianbicyclesfaq.wordpress.com

Please contact me with any further questions you may have.

All the best,

Dave Bohm

Bohemian Bicycles

P.S.  Just two examples of finished student work.  There are many more on my flickr site.

I contacted Dave about teaching me to braze, He thought he could teach just about anybody including me. So I got on a plane flew 1500 miles stayed in a hotel down the street and worked with Dave for 2 weeks.He loaned me a bike to use while I was there. I cant say enough good things about him (youve all seen his work) He doesn’t hold any punches when it comes to teaching. He designs the course around your needs. Had a great time, highly recomended. its a little more $ but one on one is the way to go.”

UPDATE!

Check out my new website:

framebuildingschool.com

Also a great blog showing the progress of a recent student:

CampagnoloDelta blog







Why buy a Rivendell or Rene Herse bicycle?

9 04 2009

Naw, Both are great.  You are not going to find a negative blog entry here.

What I really want to talk about is Mark Nobilette.

http://www.nobilettecycles.com/

Marketing is a wierd, wierd thing.   Both the top of the line Rivendells and Recreations of Rene Herse bicycles are made by Mark.   You would think with such a gem laying about of a builder that customers would be clamoring to get the frame directly from the source but no.   Mark sells far more Rivendells and RH’s than he does his own product.   Am I the only one who finds this strange?  It would not surprise me to find that in the future these brands are more collectible than the man who made them.

We see this in all sorts of businesses.   Jewelry manufacturers like Cartier don’t  make the jewelry.  Jewelers do.  The very same quality of jeweler in fact may be right around the corner in NY city but demand is high for the name, not the work.  I read once that a particular Ferrari was extremely valuable while the actual guy who made the whole chassis was alive and making them for a fraction of the price.   Sorry Enzo, but I rather have the real deal.   Here the car can command 8 million but the 80 year old guy who built it is looking for work.  Odd.

So to keep this short.   The best bicycles ever are being produced right now all across the world.   Consider buying your frame from it’s source not some company that name is based on a J.R.R Tolkien novel or another that bought a name from a gentlemans family who has been deceased since 1976.





There is a Motherfucking snake on this motherfucking bike!

7 04 2009

We just got back from the San Diego Custom bicycle show the other day.

http://www.sandiegocustombicycleshow.com/

We had a wonderful time.  I think it was very  successful for all.  Friday was a great opportunity to catch up with other builders and industry folk.   Saturday was hoppin.  Sunday was mellower but a nice wind down to the event.

Andy Schwartz of Andy Schwartz bike fitting brought his beautiful tree python.   I think everyone who could took a picture with it.  Here is Ms. Snake on a frame not too far off in color from herself.