trade musings – part three of three
so then i can only ask, when the market spoke, what did it say?
like i said (wrote) several times already over the years, it said that the need to see a framebuilder for that bicycle that works well (enough), is designed well (enough), and has a modicum of aesthetic flourishes that allow the purchaser to feel like he’s not riding a flat black painted ford from the 1940s – that need is not what it was back before the industry went so, well – industrial made. there was clearly a time when it was impossible (and even laughable) to think that the bicycles at the LBS were good enough and all one would need to fulfill a passion, do a charity ride and achieve a PB, race, do a PBP, or, dare i use the word – etcetera. a framebuilder once was the point man for high quality, better fit, and personal attention. atmo that era started to vaporize when the ability for manufacturing bicycles as well as they have been made for at least 15 years now supplanted our niche from being in the mainstream to placing it in the margins. that’s a lot of words, and a long-winded way for me to say what i say each time this subject comes up: framebuilding as a career path or as a viable commercial pursuit is more tenuous now than ever before, and it’s only because of the internet do folks think that there’s more to it than really is there. some can bring enough to the table to get a slice. most can’t and won’t.
i couldn’t agree more. sounds like the bar is raised and the language is dieing because it fails to adapt. my point is that its a bigger challenge today. meet it with something that challenges the manufactured bicycles.
it fails to adapt because it’s no longer relevant because it fails to adapt atmo…
whatever comes or happens next won’t include a framebuilder. it will come from a think tank thingy that attempts to deconstruct one established “way” and replace it with a hipper, unique-er, rarer version and sell it for more cashmo.
IMHO this whole “explosion if U.S. framebuilders” will fizzle down in the next couple years, but by 2025 there will be a new revival of folks desiring a nice handbuilt product. Of course only time will tell.
a framebuilder is and always will be someone who has come up through the industry and sport, knows what goes where from working at various stations, and has spent time taking orders to file 200 of this and tack up 400 of that, yada yada blah blah when am i gonna shut up about this bs etc? a framebuilder becomes what he is when he’s finally gone through the motions, taken all the cues for the sub-assemblies, and realized he’s sick of working on the inside where his ideas are stymied and the man is always on his case, and then leaves, skill sets and experiences in hand, in order to stake him claim as an individual. building a frame doesn’t make you a framebuilder, and i am here to take heat for stating this with such conviction. there are many, many beautiful, well crafted, over engineered, better-than-they-have-to-be-made bicycles out there produced by folks who have gone through the learning curve systematically. these cats are framebuilders atmo. and ps when my studio is finally done, i’ll go back to being one too.
fade to black…