A Stickler for the Perfect Bicycle
CHESTER—The façade of Richard Sachs’ workplace on Spring Street is unremarkable. What’s going on inside is not.
In a small grey garage tucked away from the center, Sachs toils everyday building bicycles. Not just any bicycles. Contenders in the Olympics have purchased Richard Sachs Cycles.
People from all over the country have sent in orders for his product. Sachs even has a few clients who have flown to Connecticut for a bicycle fitting.
Sitting in his small garage with bicycle frames hanging from one wall and equipment all around, Sachs pointed out that his bicycles are not meant for children. “The bike and kids don’t mix,” he said.
Although they’re specially designed, they don’t go any faster than mass-produced bikes because they’re still powered by humans. But Sachs’ bikes have an edge. “Most of the bikes are racing bikes,” he said. “I feel they’re equipped to give an edge over other bikes.”
With the time and care he puts into each one, the bikes should be special. He spends roughly half a week on each bike. At the end of the year he produces about 100 bikes, each bearing a price tag of $2000.
And to Sachs the price a client pays is well worth it. “I make sure the construction is perfect and the workmanship is perfect. The bike represents what I consider a no compromise product. It’s as good as it can be,” he said.
“The design has to be right in the way a tailored suit is designed to complement a body style,” Sachs added.
Each of the bicycles is constructed out of a special steel, which Sachs buys from Japan or Italy. The steel arrives in the shape of a tube, which Sachs cuts to length then brazes together.
“Having the ability as a brazier is as important as being able to figure out the design and everything else,” Sachs said. Once the brazing is completed, the frame is filed. The joints of the frame have to be filed precisely so no gaps show.
After the frame is finished, it’s shipped to California where it is painted by Brian Baylis. Then the freshly painted frame bearing Sachs’ name is sent back to Sachs and he completes the bicycle.
Sachs describes himself as a stickler when it comes to assembling one of his creations. He used to produce 120-130 bikes a year, but he cut back so he could spend more time building the perfect bicycle.
Nor does Sachs have any assistance in his work. He did once, but his assistant couldn’t build a bike just the way Sachs wanted it, so he decided it was better to work alone.
While at boarding school, Sachs developed an interest in bicycling. He began reading bike magazines and began racing. Instead of going to college after high school, he opted to work at the London manufacturing plant of Witcomb Lightweight Bicycles without pay.
For almost nine months, Sachs lived on the money he originally intended to use for college. Then it was back to the United States where he landed a job at the Witcomb USA division in East Haddam, and the New Jersey native decided to settle in Chester.
But a few years later, Sachs grew restless, itching to try his hand at running his own business. In 1975, he opened his shop in the center of Chester. Since then his business has become successful.
Chester may seem off the beaten path for someone who produces nationally known bikes, but Sachs maintains that the town is centrally located. It’s not too far south, and it’s not too far north, he noted with a smile.
The following article (including pricing) was originally written by Betsy Butterworth for The Old Saybrook Pictorial, and appeared on March 4, 1986, with the headline “A Stickler for the Perfect Bicycle”