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« Prices then and now | Main | How a movie changed the course of my framebuilding career »
Monday
Feb132017

It is the 30th. Anniversary of my 30th. Anniversary

 

I introduced the Fuso frame in 1984. Sales went pretty well right from the start, and I was able to quickly establish the Fuso name amongst all the many import brands from Italy and Japan. I built 18 different sizes in one centimeter increments. My aim was to have every size in stock (Unpainted.) at all time.

With top tube lengths and frame angles varying throughout this range of sizes, it meant one could get a custom fit from a frame that was in stock, and could be delivered, painted in your choice of color, in two or three weeks rather than having to wait several months to have one custom built individually. Plus the price was reasonable.

In 1987 I realized it had been 30 years since I built my first frame in 1957, under the tutelage of Albert “Pop” Hodge. (Picture right.)

I was 21 years old at the time, and had worked part time for Pop since I was 17. Pop Hodge was born in 1877, so was 80 years old at the time. Roughly the age I am now.

In 1987 I realized it was probably a good marketing strategy to label frames sold that year with a special 30th. Anniversary decal on the left chainstay.

As I already mentioned I tried to keep all sizes in stock, so I had between 60 and 100 unpainted frames hanging on the wall at any given time.

Many of the frames sold in the early part of 1987 were actually built in 1986, but were painted and sold in 1987, so therefore got the special decal. It was the only practical way to do it. Likewise many frames built in the last months of 1987 were unsold and unpainted on December 31st. that year. Those frames did not get the Anniversary decal.

I recently realized it is now another 30 years since 1987, so it is the 30th. Anniversary of my 30th. Anniversary. I other words 60 years ago I built my first frame. A point I would like to make is this, the chain driven bicycle was invented in 1885. Pop Hodge was born 8 years before that date, and started building frames around 1907.

Those early framebuilders were blacksmiths, and Pop brazed his frames in a hearth of hot coals. I not only learned framebuilding from this man, but learned the history of bicycle building and design.

I have lost count over recent years of the number of times I have written to bike manufacturers offering my knowledge for the price of my expenses in getting to their facility. Not once have I even got the courtesy of a reply.

The last one was just a few weeks ago, my attitude now is fuck it, I’m done. Please don’t suggest that I write a book, I am also through with writing books that no one buys. It is what I should expect really. The top bike makers are now large corporations, and my emails are probably getting deleted by some junior clerk who doesn’t even ride a bike.

Excuse the little rant there at the end, but I get frustrated at times. 

 

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Reader Comments (8)

There used to be a continuum, even the large bike companies had a department staffed by dedicated artisans that cared about the work and history.
Now it is just sales and marketing period.
If you want artists and history attend one of the small regional custom bike events.
Dave, your rants are part of why we follow your blog, they are part of the insight that you provide.

February 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commenteredstainless

Dave . DON'T write a book, write some songs about your exploits. Put it to music!!!! Your posting reminds me of the days when I was a sculptor, I carved many inscriptions and statues etc, in stone, with a steel hand made chisel, hit with a hand made wooden mallet. NOW they use power tools. Just like now, frames are plastic and made in a mould. BUT there are craftsmen, still around, like you, BUT YOUNGER that carry on the legacy that you started. Your work will last well into the years long after, you and I are gone, as a reminder of what true craftsmen did. You should be proud mate.

February 14, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjohn Crump

FIVE comments on the last two subjects? 2 are mine???? Maybe we need to retire Hawaii??? OR BLOODY BOURNEMOUTH!!!!!

February 15, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjohn Crump

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. ... All those moments will be lost in time…like tears in rain…” –Batty, from “Blade Runner”

How ironic that companies want to sell “Experience” to consumers, but don’t want to pay for experience when it comes to employees. Or, advisors.

February 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

Chevy Chase. Said in one of his movies, a line that I have always loved "ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?" As we age, this line has more and more meaning. We should at this point in our lives have done most everything that we should have, Raised a family, made SOME money, been successful at our work. SO what left? FUN FUN FUN so Dave and all you that read this of diminishing age ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?????? Dave as you say with your favorite word FUCK Why the FUCK are you so concerned that big biz shuns you and your books don't sell, (books, by the way are very funny) Who the FUCK cares? The only thing at YOUR and MY AGE IS (Drum roll), "ARE WE, OR YOU, HAVING FUN YET??????? If NOT Why the FUCK NOT??

February 17, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterjohn crump

Dave:

I follow your blog precisely because you share your history with us, from your early racing experiences to frame building. In modern business, with everything compartmentalized & buttoned down, there is no single person who is the face of, let alone the owner, of any bike manufacturer. The world is sadder for that state of affairs. I ride a lugged, steel bike, and when I see today's latest offerings, they are McBikes to me. No character, no variation, no variety. Making them from plastic so they must be replaced every few years is the only reason to buy a new one.

Absolutely keep on with the rants. No worries from here.

February 18, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterdoug peterson

Look in old school yearbooks, from the 60’s and 70’s: There were History Departments. Students learned not only the history of their own country, but also the categories of history, and how they affect the world.

When that is no longer instilled in children, is it really a surprise we have the world we do? Even Lance Armstrong cared not about the history of the Tour de France. But he sure cared what people were saying about him, constantly checking his phone. He was merely a prelude to bike companies, and their customers, caring not about the history of the bicycle. And it shows in their poor riding ability.

No wonder they need special lanes to ride in. No wonder they can be sold electric “assist” bikes. You Dave, have nothing to contribute to that; and that is as it should be.

February 19, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterSteve

What I found awesome in this post, in the original use of the word, was the continuity and the time span; 1873 - 2017 (so far) separated by a handshake. You can't scale up craftsmanship which may explain their lack of interest but as John C suggests, fuck 'em.

February 20, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterpeter

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