I have added a photo gallery to this blog site, the link is in the top navigation bar. This will be a permanent part of this site and I am sure I will add to it in the future.
I have spoken before of my early days in the US, but it will bear repeating for the benefit of those new to the blog. I moved to Southern California in October 1980, and went to work at the Masi shop in San Marcos in San Diego County.
Masi was enjoying an upturn in sales, partly due to a movie called “Breaking Away.” The story about a young boy bitten by the bike racing bug. The movie featured a Masi in the leading role. Part of the agreement on taking this job was that I be allowed to build my own frames with my name attached, so long as I filled my commitment to build Masi frames.
Ted Kirkbride, who owned and ran the frameshop, subcontracted to build Masi frames. In later years he bought out the company. Ted Kirkbride was supportive of me building my own frames and I built a frame with my name on it that was displayed in the Masi booth at the New York Trade Show in February 1981. By doing so he displayed the fact that he had an established framebuilder, with experience, building the Masi frames.
Throughout 1981 I consistently built 25 Masi frames a month, and a handful of my own in my spare time. The problem was sales did not keep up with my production, frames were everywhere, hanging from the walls and ceiling, and by the end of 1981 I had worked myself out of a job.
In January 1982 I was laid off and told to go sign on unemployment. I got as far as standing in line at the unemployment office, but turned around and walked out before reaching the counter to actually sign on.
Whether it was my pride, or ego. I do remember thinking, “I didn’t travel 6,000 miles from England to stand in an unemployment line.” I returned to the Masi shop determined to get by building and selling my own frames.
My record book shows that I built 69 custom frames in 1982, and 96 in 1983. All frames built one at a time for individual customers; not a really efficient way to build frames. There were no Masi frames built in 1982, as it took until the end of that year to sell down the inventory I had built in 1981.
I not only made enough to get by, but saved enough to move into my own frameshop around July 1983. I had to take out a bank loan to add to my own savings, and I am still amazed that I was able to do this. Coming from England just four years earlier, I had no credit rating; not even enough to get a credit card. I guess I was able to prove to my bank that I could run a viable business building frames.
The Picture Gallery shows a few of the frames built in those early days, along with some of the production Fuso And Recherche frames that followed.
Many of the custom frames are still owned by the original owners that they were built for. A good example is the bike shown in the first two pictures, built for Chuck Schmidt, in February 1983. Chuck still owns the bike and keeps it in pristine condition with the original paint and chrome.
Go to the gallery and browse though the pictures