Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Us vs. them......

We as bicycle frame builders in order to have buisness need to get exposure for our work-for me it is mostly at the races....for my more artistic brethren the venue is one or more of the various trade shows that showcase custom and/or collectable bicycles. Both avenues are potentially great but both require time and money to participate in and there is no guarantee that sales will result from either venture. The internet serves well as a place to have work displayed and information available to the potential customer but if you are not showing your wares out in the real world, your chances of sales are pretty slim. When the shows as we now know them first started up about five years ago ( the framebuilder exclusive ones...) they were gatherings that for the first time brought builders together in one place and for the most part helped solidify the framebuilder community. This process of celebrating the craft while at the same time re-enforcing the bonds of framebuilding folks was so long overdue , it was like a huge dam of enthusiasm and inspiration had broken open.We , as builders were no longer working in relative isolation. I, personally was moved by the first three shows I displayed at....they served to inspire me in a big way. The show had an unspoken theme, at least in my mind. It was :" Hey, we build frames....check out what we do." Now, just a few years later the show is now several shows....the community is now divided into sub-groups. The enormous size of the country and the increasing costs associated with the original show are the main cause but for me the focus of the original show is what spun me off. Now the handmade bike show can be distilled to this theme .: " Hey, look at what i build....". The "We" part of it is gone, buried under a big pile of one-upsmanship and big gaudy bowling trophies. While I applaud the talent of folks who win awards at the show-you really can't win an award with anything less than exceptional-The thing that still is not awarded for the most part is the commitment that some folks have to the craft, be it what they do for racers, junior developement or mentoring new builders. In my mind, that's what is where the focus needs to be and that is what will keep this craft from dying. No amount of museum quailty adornment will convince the bulk of cyclists that a custom bike is worth seeking out. I'm sticking with " Look at what we do " as the saying for the present and future builders who wish to not see the demise of framebuilding. You can save the " Look at what I do" for your blog.


  1. Brother Paul,

    Well said, keep up the good work. Some of us appreciate what you [and others] do more than all the "show bikes" out there. Here's to simple, well made, functional frames that serve their purpose, look good and deliver great value to the client. Bravo!

  2. Thanks......I'll remember that when I build that stainless lugged bamboo recumbent triple with a solar powered GPS onboard !