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« Do you recognize this bike? | Main | Team Sky: Looking Good »
Wednesday
Mar202013

What’s in a Logo

What do you see when you look at the head tube logo on my custom frames?

 

Many people see a tic-tac-toe or the pound symbol you see on a telephone keypad.

If this is what you see, you are looking at the blank space inside the logo.

It is simply four lower case letter “m” placed north, south, east, and west in the form of a cross.

During the 1970s in England there were strict rules regarding the amateur status of athletes, especially Olympic athletes. No sponsorship was allowed and I could not advertise the fact that a few 'World Class' cyclists were riding my bikes. One way around this was to have my name prominently displayed on the frame.

 

 

I did this in a simple typeface similar to that used on British road signs, easy to read and distinctive in my name being spelled out in all lower case letters.

A picture of a leading cyclist riding my bike on the cover of the British "Cycling" Magazine (Like the one on the right of Paul Carbutt.) would result in a huge boost in sales.

Sometimes a photo would be a head on shot and all that could be seen was my logo on the head tube. The logo was simple and instantly recognizable.

When I resumed building my own custom frames in California in 1981, while still working for Masi, I used the old stock decals I had brought with me from England. This included the logo with the words “Worcester England” underneath. (The address of my English frameshop.) I felt somewhat justified because after all the Masi frames said “Masi, Milano” on the head tube even though they were built in California.

I later added a decal that read:

 


FRAME GUARANTEED HANCRAFTED
BY DAVE MOULTON
IN CALIFORNIA USA

This was placed at the top of the seat tube, under the seat lug where the tube manufacturer’s decal would normally go.

I followed Masi’s lead and left the tubing decal off my custom frames because they were prone to bubble and fester in the heat of the paint-curing oven.

To my chagrin there was resistance to the ‘dave moulton’ name on my frames when I first started building in California. “Not exotic sounding enough” was the excuse I usually heard. Some wanted to order a frame without decals for that reason, which I refused to do.

 

 

It was traditional for English framebuilders to have their full name on the frame, usually with an abbreviated first name; Bob Jackson, Ron Cooper, Harry Quinn, Stan Pike. To the ear (Or is it the eye?) of the American cyclist these names were not as appealing as Colnago, Cinelli, Pinarello, or Pugliaghi.

When I decided to bring out a line of production frames in 1984 my main competition was these Italian import frames, so I looked through an Italian/English dictionary for a suitable name. I ended up choosing a word that did not sound particularly Italian.

 

I came across the word “Fuso” Italian for molten metal. It was a play on words on my name.

I sketched out the logo of a crucible pouring molten metal into a mold, and the Fuso brand was born.

I did not know at the time that Fuso was also a Japanese word and there was a famous Japanese battleship named Fuso during WWII.

There is a subtle difference in pronunciation; my frame is pronounced the Italian way, Fuse-oh. The Japanese pronunciation is Foo-so. Mitsubishi has a line of commercial vehicles with that name.

If you can believe this also, when I brought out the Fuso frame, many of my customers protested and wanted ‘dave moulton’ on it. By now, I my reputation had grown and no one cared if the name sounded exotic or not.

However, to put ‘dave moulton’ on a line of production frames, even though the quality was high, would have been unfair to those who had paid top dollar for individually built custom frames. So once again, I had to refuse.

 

 

I am reminded of the old adage, “You can’t please all the people all the time.”

 

                       

Reader Comments (5)

Having started serious cycling in the UK in the 1950s, I always considered bikes with the builder's name on the downtube to be superior to ones bearing some brand name. I just thought of the former being custom hand-built and the latter made on a production line in a factory.

March 20, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn B

Great rider was Paul Carbutt who I believe is no longer with us. Good in road races and TT's. Held Lands End - John o' Groats record for a while I think.

March 25, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJW

Wouldn't "Moulton" as a company name have worked as a compromise? Sounds kind of French, maybe English = exotic enough for me!

April 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Katz

Andy,
The "Moulton" name alone was taken by Alex Moulton and his small wheel bike.
"Moulton" may look French, but doesent sound French if you pronounce it right. The "U" is silent. Pronounced Molton, a quite common English name.
Dave

April 5, 2013 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Only a small typo amendment, Dave. [quote] So once again, I had to refuso[/quote]
It is hilarious that you were faced with the opposite problem years later, (buyers wanting your name on instead). I guess it's human nature, variable from one to another, to want to be seen to have something perceived as more prestigious than the next guy.

April 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

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