Monday, December 28, 2009

Embarassments of poverty


If you are like me, and if you are lucky you probably aren't, you run a buisness all by yourself.Don't get me wrong.....I'm fine with it and it suits my abilities and inabilities: Ability to amuse myself while working diligently......essential. Inability to work for other companies that will likely have a heirarchy and tyrant boss of some sort......well, it got me here. So here I am, all by myself in my shop building frames. How long can it go on ? How many can I produce ? In the grand scheme of things, not all that many. This is the case with just about every small framebuilder......limited life of the builder and therefore, the buisness-hence , limited number of frames produced. It always warms my heart a little when I see one of my frames on ebay or craigslist described as "rare". Of course its rare, compared to a Trek. For small builders to offer a "Limited edition" is kind of silly.....they are all limited editions ! I can understand the need to produce an "Anniversary" model that signifies a milestone in one's career as a builder-I built one to celebrate ( or perhaps rue..) my 25th year since I built my first frame. The bikes is all assembled and hanging in my shop. Did people line up to buy it ? No.....so the 30th anniversary came and went without my building a commemorative frame.....I don't have the time, I guess. Maybe if I make it to 50........It is because of our short lifespan and miniscule production relative to large companies that some builders attempt ( and some succeed ) to establish an "exclusivity" about thier brand .......just like beachfront property or admission into one of those clubs that only people on the 'list' gain entry to. In reality, the person who writes the check gets the frame-at least that's all it takes to get on my list. My exclusive club has but one requirement.....just pay me for my work. Sure, custom frames are not cheap and the wait can be long, but a $ 350 deposit gets you on the list.....you don't need to be a certain age, you don't need a full head of hair, I won't ask you to write an essay on why you and not someone else should deserve to get the next frame I produce. There is no special handshake , there's no drug test......really, if you want a frame built and have the money and are willing to wait, you qualify. The whole concept of feeling special or elevated above your fellow cyclists because you have such and such's frame makes me a little ill. Heck, if it is a great frame and it fits you well and you are happy with it, definitely be proud of it....just don't expect anyone to bow to you as you ride by. I do make exceptions to my take on things here-there are a few guys who only produce a few frames a year and the artistic content of these masterpieces is undeniable. Even still, these few artisans will insist that it is still a bicycle made for riding foremost.....even if it will someday wind up in the Smithsonian. To end this rambling rant, I'll say this : Shows that promote bike building get a thumbs up from me. Shows and businesses that portray framebuilders as demi-gods and leaders of super-exclusive members only clubs don't even get a thumbs down from me.....they don't even get a thumb.....I need it to hold the welding rod, anyway. To these self-important strutting gasbags I ask " When your career is over, how would you like best to be forgotten ?".........I'll bet you won't be forgotten like me !

11 comments:

  1. yeah, baby - Club Coconino! "the check clears & you're in!"

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  2. Ya know it takes a brave man to say these words. So much of what we do is "marketing," but if you are doing it right and taking care of your customers the marketing generally just takes care of itself.

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  3. I'm either brave,obnoxious or just plain stupid. I kind of have to go with the stuff that comes from my twisted heart.

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  4. Watch out, keep this up and you might night get invited to join the club! :)

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  5. It's nice to see building get some recognition, but it sucks to see the divisiveness and cliques that have arrived with it. I didn't play that game in high school and sure aren't going to play it now. Thanks for another fine post Paul.

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  6. I think I know what you are talking about. I spilled my coffee on my shirt, and some beer on my friend's girlfriend. It was sweet to see some of your bikes hauling ass around bendor.

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  7. Did you read about Bruce Gordon's rejection? The cracks are forming. Maybe people will begin to see the eporor has no clothes?

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  8. Just stumbled upon your blog, good reading! I wish I had the $$$ for a custom frame, at 5'2" it's hard to find a frame that works/fits for some rugged Arizona riding. One of these days my rear triangle will snap. The small size frame of my bike ('07 K2 Attack 2.0) has the factory flaw that if the rear shock is bottomed out, the tubes will actually hit each other...

    I dare you to count the number of tubes on this one:
    http://img26.imageshack.us/img26/6723/bikezoom.jpg

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  9. Dang, somebody has a chopsaw !Talk about a way to make it complicated to build a frame....

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