Any bicycle that costs $1900 might be expected to pedal itself. The bikes made by Richard Sachs in his shop on Main Street in Chester Start at $1900 and he will be the first one to tell you that they won’t make you go any faster.
No faster, that is, than you might go on another top quality racing bike. But, Sachs’ customers believe that his hand-made frames produce a smooth riding and easy-handling bicycle that is worth the price. It is the difference, he said, between buying a suit off the rack and having it tailored. “I used to have reservations about talking about price,” Sachs said Monday. Now, after 14 years of shaping and brazing steel tubing into custom bicycles, Sachs knows his product is among the best.
Even so, Sachs must search for the people willing to spend top dollar for a bicycle. Few people come to the signless basement shop where he works. With the help of his girlfriend, who is in the promotion business, he places full color ads for his candy-apple red and white frames in national magazines. Most of his orders come by mail.
Each year, Sachs sells about 70 frames-without wheels, handlebars, gears or pedals-for $900 and up. He also sells about 30 fully outfitted bicycles, starting at $1900, on which he installs top quality imported parts. Each frame is unique, cut to his customer’s measurements. “There’d be no point in spending this kind of money if it doesn’t fit,” he said.
However, to become absorbed by the price is to miss the point of Sachs’ work. “This is what I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. After graduating from a New Jersey prep school in 1971, Sachs spent eight months in England learning how to make bikes.
Since then, he has made more than 2000 frames. “I’ve tried to concentrate on making them better,” he said. Ironically, as he got better, Sachs decided to produce fewer frames to improve the quality. He has reduced the number of frames he makes a year from 130 to 100. “You’re basically making a high tech precision product, but you’re making it by hand.”
Sachs seems to have found the niche he prefers. “I can’t do it with another person because no one else is willing to work as hard as I do.
“People say something like this is wasting time because most people can’t tell the difference,” Sachs said. “To me, that’s not important. It’s me that’s making them perfect.”
“I still think I could do a better job,” Sachs said. “I continue to do each one like I may finally stumble upon the magic touch. I think all the problems are going to be solved one day.”
The following article (including pricing) was originally written by Peter B. Pach for The Hartford Courant, and appeared on February 26, 1987, with the headling “Top Quality Bike Maker Riding High”.