Jiro Dreams Of Framebuilding

by | Feb 21, 2013

Another year. More shows. Different cities. More drama. And the annual paradigm shift. The shakeout began years ago, almost the day after the niche became fashionable. At some point after Y2K, bicycle framebuilding became this year’s coffee bean roasting, home brewing, and needlecraft simultaneously. And in less than 24 hours after it started, the genie was leaving the toothpaste tube.

It’s interesting standing on the sidelines, watching it all happen in real time. And it’s sad as well. Sad, because for every success story (not that I can invoke one…) there are fifteen failures. And these failures are not statistics, they are people who lost money and their pipe dream to make a bicycle for someone else. First they learned to make a frame. They made seven more, or maybe it was fifteen. And then a brand started. The concept of training or having a foundation on which to build is a foreign language and seems never part of the conversation. It’s all so, so totally ass-backwards.

I can’t think of any trade, or any craft – or any line of work at all, in which so many folks tossed a hat into the ring expecting a return on such a mediocre, and small, and limited investment. On some levels, it’s an insult to a profession when gates are perennially opened wide enough to allow such a large group of under-skilled and unprepared folks to become part of it. And, no – I don’t have an antidote. All I have is an opinion.