Sunday, February 24, 2008

The booth is taking shape...

The paint booth is starting to come together. The first view is looking through the entrance from the shop, where the blaster and bake box sit. The booth will have a sealed glass door, and to each side, one of the 7'x3' inch thick laminated glass panes to let in some natural light as well as let others see the liquid luv being applied :) .
The door is one of my favorite parts of the booth. It was a rescue from the old Italian restaurant that use to sit next door; Giovannas. The building was torn down in the early ninetys and we've had the front door saved for something special ever since. The side windows are pretty cool too. The double layer glass panes are incredibly heavy and meet OSHA's explosion proof criteria, so they should be good to go. Got them for an incredible price from my local Habitat for Humanity Re-store...a collection of salvaged and new building materials for sale with profits to benefit new home construction for families without the financial means for sustainable housing.
There are a total of 14 glass enclosed 4' lights to brighten things up...if I decide to call it quits in the bicycle biz some day, I could use it for a tanning booth ;)
Hoping to finish the wiring and begin laying on the fireproof drywall tomorrow.
Working by yourself, things always seem to move more slowly than you'd like, but the effort will be well worth it.
I've been a bit lax in answering email the last 2 days, a combination of lack of time and energy. When I opened up the inbox just now, I had 42 new emails. I'll try to answer them all today, but if I missed you, please send me a quick reminder and I'll get on it.
The latest batch of luv handles are finished up and will ship out Monday. Currently, all 20 are spoken for.
I am planning on a second run to be ready in 2 weeks, of those, a third have deposits. If you want a bar, drop me an email or a deposit by Paypal and I'll put you on the list.
The bars have been getting some talk on some of the MTBR forums, here are a few reports and ride reviews...thanks to Jim and Martn for providing the info for all :)
If you've got a deposit in and are on the build list you already know that the best way to keep up with what is going on is to check the website and follow the blog. I'll be updating the build list soon to break it up into frames, forks, and bars so that it is easier to track.
You can check the current listing here;
Praying for spring to arrive...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Groovy is expanding

Well folks, the last couple of days have been busy.

I'm busting through the wall and expanding the shop to add a proper paint booth and prep area.

I've been spraying in a "temporary booth" for far too long. With a number of restorations coming up and my desire to have better working space, the time is now. Hate to have the lost build time, but these improvements will definately allow me to produce an even higher quality finish on my products.

The building I adjoin was built in the late 1800's and I had quite a mess to clean up before I could begin constructions. Mostly, I had to remove all the wiring that was in the way...dead end runs, conduit that went every where, and lots of old fixtures that have not worked in years.

The biggest mess was tracing everything back and removing it all from the panels. Took a whole day just to do that. Actually got quite a surprise when I tried to open a secondary remote panel. The cover would not come off...what's going on? Double checked that I did not leave any screws in place (don't laugh, it happens :) ), looked for hinges or set clips...none. So, all that was left was brute force. I pulled hard on the cover plate and it came free. Only then did I realize what was holding it. An improperly installed wire had literally welded it's self to the panel cover, holding it in place. So glad I installed an all new panel and service for the shop...this old stuff is scary.

The new space will hold the relocated compressor, a 10x12 paint booth, and a separate room for the blast cabinet and bake box.

The new booth will be OSHA and NFPA 33 approved, having explosion proof lights and fans. It will be set up with cross ventilation using a positive pressure intake fan and a filtered exhaust fan. I'm also installing a custom air brush station...should be pretty sweet.

The work is going slowly as I'm doing it all myself. Should be done by next week. Here are some pics of the stuff so far.

Looking across the newly added area.

The rough cut wall through to the existing shop space.

My compressor has a new home...just gotta get the inline filters on it.
All the boxes landed home from the show today, glad to get it all back in one piece...a much better outcome than the trip out.
Lot's of lovely wheels...
And as my parting shot, you know you've made it as a business when you begin to get Maxim magazine ( a blatantly marketed mag with half naked chicks for 12-26 year olds) sent to the shop for free. Some one call my mom, she'd be so proud ;)

Take care all,

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lumbering through the office...

Some days are just lost to the mundane...typical of the last three.

The unfortunate truth of being a one man show in the framebuilding arena is that you have to do it all; customer contact, design, fabricate, paint, build, ship, schlep, change the toilet paper, etc...

I spent the last couple of days doing the real work of a frame shop...renewing my insurance, paying my LLC fees to the State of Ohio, shipping product and updating the shoe box that serves as my bill file :) Right now the system is...when the lid no longer goes on the shoe box, it's time to pay bills. Some times I think I need a bigger box

NAHBS was very good to me in from a business viewpoint; I had 5 new frames and a couple of fork orders placed post show. But perhaps the best by product of the show was of a personal nature.

Growing up, my cousin and I would spend a few weeks every summer at each others homes, immersing ourselves in the best of boyhood; climbing trees, getting dirty, and of course, riding bikes. It was the closest I've ever had to having a brother and I cherished our relationship. Unfortunately, our families suffered a terrible loss and each member of the family dealt with it in their own way. Our relationship suffered and contact was lost...another dark outcome to an already sad situation. My cousin went on to find his own path but could not shake the need for cycling. This is where the story gets good...while browsing through the links to the exhibitors pages, exploring options for a new road steed, he came across my web page and decided to drop me a line. Time does heal and I'm thrilled to have my cuz, heck, let's get mushy, my brother back...Chris, thanks for making the effort. Despite your admonishment, if I have the privilege of building your next frame, the work is on me :) (that way you can save your pennies for the new Dura ace aint cheap!)

Anyhoo...on another subject, I really enjoy black and white photography, it has such a simple elegance to it. I had Mike Sherrick of Sherrick Photography come out and shoot some around the shop in preparation for the show. Now some of his artistic shots are available online. So, if you are a lover of the bicycle fabrication process and want something a little different to hang in your home, check out his offerings...

He's a heck of a photographer and works too cheap...order a print or two today!

Next week I'm going to hit the renovation of the paint booth hard. A new filter system, better lighting, and a dedicated air brush station are all planned so that the work I produce continues to please you. I know I'm looking forward to having it all sewn up and working smoothly. I've got a lot of repaints to do in March so I need to bust my bum and get'r done :)



Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A few show tidbits left...

Finally dragged my butt home EARLY yesterday morning just as a major winter storm was beginning, 12 inches of snow and later an inch of ice...YUCK!

Spent the day unpacking and answering a lot of post show emails. I received a fair bit of interest and the build list is swelling. Kind of excited to be able to share my love of bikes with others but also hesitant about taking on too much as I want each project to manifest my absolute best effort possible.

Anyhoo, I took some pics of a few of the show frames and bars that are still available. I learned an important lesson...have credit card ability available at the next show. Had I done so, all the bikes would have new homes and I would not have needed two sherpas and a Llama to lug stuff through the airport :)

If you are considering a custom bike from me, take a hard look at what is available. This is your chance to get a beautiful frameset without the 6-8 month wait.

On to the pics...
The first frame is a Bigwheel 29er. This guy is set up with;
- 24" top tube
- 16" center to center seat tube length for lots of standover clearance
- 72.5/73.5 head tube to seat tube angles
- suspension corrected Ho Down fork for 80mm with disc tab and 42mm of rake
- Paragon drop outs for use with SS or Rohloff dropouts
- custom twin cable routing on the down tube and four stop zip tie disc routing
- 68mm Paragon bottom bracket shell
- Columbus S bend stays
- Custom head badge
- 27.2 mm seat tube with front pinch clamp
- Beautiful PPG radiance paint with airbrushed black graphics and Prismitic added to the clear
I have all the components for a full build, including Phil Wood/Rohloff/Mavic wheels, Phil BB, King Headset, Painted to match bar, Magura Marta brakes, Thomson stem and post, etc...
The bike is available as a frame kit with bar or with any of the additional items, please email for details and prices.
Up next is the Rasta old school build... I did this one for the show to take me back to my roots. This frame is designed with fixed modular dropouts and an EBB to allow to be run as a 1x9 or as a Single Speed with rim brakes. Designed around the dimensions of a medium/large Yo Eddy, the frame was a super fun build and will be pictured in a few magazines I did interviews with. Here are the details;
- 23.3" top tube
- 16" center to center seat tube length for greater standover than the old school rides
- 71/72 head tube to seat tube angles
- suspension corrected Ho Down fork for 63mm with canti studs
- Custom Modular drop outs for use with SS or geared dropouts
- custom internal cable routing on the down tube and top tube
- 68mm Paragon bottom bracket shell
- Custom single bend non-tapering stays
- Custom head badge
- 27.2 mm seat tube with front pinch clamp
- Striking rasta splatter paint with 3 sanded layers of clear.
This is available as the frame set or with the components of the complete build, including; Phil Wood 8 speed wheelset, Magura Hydraulic rim brakes, Grove Hot Rod Cranks painted to match with Shimano External BB, Thomson post, NOS Flite White Perforated Saddle, Pauls love levers and thumbies, custom bar/stem combo painted to match, and a King rasta headset.
Please email me for price or details.
Next up is the VW inspired Bigwheel cross frame. This guy is too sweet! Here we go;
- 24" top tube
- 16" center to center seat tube length for lots of standover clearance
- 72.5/73.5 head tube to seat tube angles
- suspension corrected Ho Down fork for 80mm with disc tab and 42mm of rake
- Window cut Paragon drop outs
- External four point rear brake cable brazeons
- 68mm Paragon bottom bracket shell
- Hand bent non-tapering S bend stays
- Custom head badge
- 27.2 mm seat tube with front pinch clamp
- Beautiful PPG acrylic paint with panels and three layers of clear
- Custom "Potts" style LD stem updated for Aheadset use
It is available as a frame/fork/stem kit or with complete parts for the build, including; Phil Wood SS/Mavic wheels, Eno crank, Phil bb, Avid mechanical discs, WTB dirt drops, Cane Creek levers with natural gum rubber, Brooks leather bar wrap, Thomson post with custom chopped Brooks saddle, and a whole lot of lovin thrown in :)
Lastly, I had three bars left out of the almost 20 we took. These are the standard Luv Handles with some hopped up colors for fun...come on, I know you're man enough to sport these outrageous paints on your steed ;)
Available are Jolly Rancher green metallic, Silver metallic with blue crackle splatter, and Silver metallic with radiance purple dots.
All bars are 110.00 plus 10 bucks shipping in the US... Paypal to to purchase.

So that does it, still have a few shirts left as well. It was a fantastic show and I'm already planning some cool projects for next year.

As some of you have already noticed, the base costs for frames has gone up post show. I really had to look hard at what many of my mentors/fellow builders had to say about the high quality of my builds and asking/receiving just compensation for them. As one of the few builders who still does ALL the work in house and the attention to detail I put into each project, I feel it is prudent to follow their sage advise. After all, I want to be doing this in another 20 years just as they have. Those who are already on the books will have their prices locked in at the original rates. For new builds, you are still getting a lot of quality for the price when compared to other builders, I hope you understand and are willing to compare.



Sunday, February 10, 2008

All wrapped up...

Well folks, the last of the packing is done and NAHBS is all wrapped up for me. I'm sitting in the hotel room typing when I should be sleeping; got an early flight in the morning.

To give you an idea of how busy it was this weekend... a gentleman who visited my booth said that he had to leave the hall to go to the bathroom and when he tried to return, he had to wait an hour in line as the hall had reached capacity and they would only let one person in as one came out...Yikes! I hated to tell him that there was a restroom just two booths down from mine, INSIDE the exhibit hall :)
The last day of the event was a little bit slower pace but still kept everyone jumping.
There were so many folks on bikes, parking became an issue. People were locking their rides on trees, stairway hand rails, etc... The Portland fire department deemed it a hazard and began cutting locks and throwing bikes into the back of a pick up truck to haul them away. That was some seriously bad kharma :(
The management had to make up some improptu signs to save the owners some serious strife.
Had a couple of VIP guests drop in to check out the hand built bikes this year; Lance Armstrong and Robin Williams. I was really proud of the folks at the show as they let both walk the aisles without any crowds following them around.

Things were brisk at the booth as a lot of the VRC crew stopped in to say hello...Sky, Don, and Eric all were a pleasure to meet and very cool cats.
I finally had time to get some shots of the glad I brought it, the green and white curtains totally looked lame. Thanks to Bill and Hubby for the hard work getting ready and tearing down tonight, I could not have made it without you.

Rasta splatter bike with one piece bar/stem combo, Hot Rod Cranks, NOS white perforated saddle, Ho Down fork, Phil wood wheels and Timbuk two tires.

The VW chestnut brown over sealing wax red with cream panels, sporting WTB drops, Phil/Mavic wheels, ENO crank, Brooks chopped saddle and Potts style LD stem.

Jolly rancher 29er...all the parts for the build were lost by UPS on the way to the show, too bad.

My big treat today was that Steve Potts stopped by the booth and checked out the LD stem and a couple of bikes that I built, giving his nod of approval. I've admired Steve for close to 20 years so that was pretty damn cool. Oh, Roy if you are reading this...he thought your bike was awesome and told me I was a fool if I was not charging at least $10,000 for the complete build. I was too embarrassed to let him know the actual price...
Honestly, one thing most builders I know struggle with is accurately valuing our work; we are better craftsman/artisians than business men and find it difficult to appreciate self value. There was a seminar on running a successful business by Carl Strong that stressed the same thing. I was not able to attend, maybe next year.
It was a good experience. Once I get the show bikes home safely I'll be taking better pics and putting the frames up for sale on the web site, if anyone has interest, please email me :)...
my last post from Portland,

Consumer day one

Saturday harkend the first opportunity of the show for consumers to get out and engage in sensory easy task to accomplish as there is sooo much cool stuff out there.

Talking with the show organizers, they anticipated over 10000 people to come through during the next two days. A few of the folks that spoke with me said they had to wait almost an hour at the door before being allowed to enter because the hall was at capacity; as one person came out one person could come in. Totally crazy.

Despite Portalnd being a great city that has embraced and supported cycling, the attendees came from all over; Germany, Japan, Spain, Canada and as far as the east coast of the United States. I've got to admit, some of my favorite people were from Japan. I had about seven guys crowd into the booth and begin to pour over the bikes. They would begin to shout to the others, excitedly pointing out little features here and there...there enthusiasm was infectious. They spent about 40 minutes just hanging out like kids in a candy store, very fun.
The number of people made for a long day in that there were often so many folks in the booth at once I could not talk to them all, and believe me, I tried :)

The media was back in full force as well; I gave interviews to BikeMagazine, Mountain Bike UK, and a slew of smaller Web based rags...bikes kept rolling out of the booth for pictures all day long. It will certainly be interesting to see just what ends up in print or on the web in the next couple of weeks.
The pics are courtesy of Bill and Hubby as I've not had a chance to even look around yet :(

I'm totally whooped but excited about the final day tomorrow, so I'm going to sign off...


Saturday, February 9, 2008

Set up and industry day...

Wow, lots went on the last day and a half, so let's get to it...

Thursday afternoon our baggage arrived at the Portland airport so Bill and I jumped back on the train and went on a retrieval trip. I was so relieved to see that the stuff came through without further incident.

Once I lugged all the stuff over to the convention center the set up began. I knew I was in trouble when I saw the first box. One of the show bike boxes that was loaded up with a a very expensive parts box had the bottom of the box all torn out with some packing tape all wrapped around it...oh no!

Inspection found that at some point during shipping, UPS tore the crap out of the box, the parts box fell out, and nothing was ever put back. Gone was about $2000.00 worth of equipment. Not good.

Fortunately, that was the end of the troubles. I got set up with a few parts missing off of some of the bikes and an entire build for another, but stuff still looked pretty good.

Industry day was a hoot. Lot's of familiar faces came by as well as new aquaintences. One of the special opportunities of a show like this is to put a face to the names you deal with all year. It was really good to meet Lynette of White Industries and her boys...great folks; Gary Prange of SSSink, my supplier for those NOS Fat decals for restorations that are coming up; Maurice and Eric from Dirt Rag, Richard Cunningham, and the list goes way on.

Got to do a couple of video interviews with MTBR and Spains Mountain Bike magazine.

You can check out the MTBR vid here....

Got a lot of work to do today before the public show opens...they are expecting over 10000 people in the next two days...whew!

I promise I'll get some pics up tonight, I'm just going to hit the sheets for a bit.



Friday, February 8, 2008

An epic day of travel

The plan was to fly out of Pittsburgh International airport and have a leisurely trip to Portland for the show...unfortunately, God had other plans with the weather.

Terrible storms with tornados inundated the country on the day we were traveling, causing a rash of delayed/cancelled/and missed flights. Ironically, the bad weather was covering where we were leaving and our final destination...the rest of the country was peachy keen.

We started out with a 2 hour delay, which was ok as we would still be able to make our connection on time. Then the bottom fell out.

Long story short, I saw many of Americas great airports, dozing on carpeted floors and saggy lounge seats, in the 23 hours it took us to get to Portland. The good news is, we arrived safely, our luggage, including all the Luv Handles and two frames, did not. They were somewhere in the not so friendly skies, winging their own path across the country :(

Once here, the first order of business was to "get some grub on" (get something to eat for our foriegn readers). I love to eat, especially at the little out of the way diners and restaurants that have a lot of character. I met up with Steve and Denise of Coconino Cycles, Bruce Gordon, Brian Bayliss and a pretty hip chick, Yahee (hope I spelled it correctly :) ) who is a good friend of Denise. We had a fantastic breakfast of hash, blueberry cakes and fresh orange juice...yummy!

It turned out to be a popular place as some of the Dirt Rag crew, the brothers Sycip, and the Ingalls of Retrotech were also enjoying the atmosphere and food.

Great conversation and banter was punctuated with the joy of hanging out with folks of like mind. Working as an independant builder, you do not have the opportunity to really talk with others about ideas, methods, and just generally bullshit. It was a pleasure to really engage.

Show set up and media day info will follow tonight...hope everyone is well.


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Off to NAHBS...

Well guys, I'm off to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show to represent all things good and retro inspired. I'll be taking Bill Grove with me and giving him free reign with the camera while I tend to the masses at my booth.
I'll try to update my blog nightly with some cool pics, happenings, and what not.

I'll be taking three retro inspired show bikes, one modern 29er, and the first road frame I ever built back in 94, now refinished and destined for my son.

Without giving away too much of what is in store, one of the bikes is a tribute to one of my all time favorite vehicles; a 1958 VW Bus painted in chestnut brown and sealing wax red. I built a special stem for this one that pays tribute to another one of my favs...the Potts. The stem turned out very nice and it matches the lines of the bus well too.
I've always enjoyed the Ross Schafer Jelly bean rasta paint and wanted to do a variation on it as well...kind of a neo-retro classic build. Here's a quick hint of what is happening with it...
Had the shop full of folks this last couple of days working to get it all ready...even had Big K rubbing his nubbins to the bone on some of the Aluminum parts. Thank goodness for Mother's polish!

As for the contest puzzle, looks like Eric was first on the pickup...the piece was an adjustable sliding stand to hold the show bikes by the chain stay. They got a nice coat of flat black, some comfy foam and a D-ring buckle system to fasten everything tight. Eric, send me your mailing addy and I'll get some stickers out to you after the show :)

Looks like I'll be able to get at least a couple hours of sleep before heading to the can rest when you're dead, right? ;^)

Talk to you all soon,


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Puzzle of the day and kickin Tees...

All right folks, spent the day fabricating some of my last items necessary for the North American Handmade bicycle show and they are a dilly of a puzzle for you to figure out.

Here's a chance to get yer self a sticker sent right to you in your own living room, that's right, it's better than a 70's game show!
The first one to click on the little comment link below the post and correctly tell me what this gadget is for will get some Groovy Lovin sent to them.
Put on yer thinkin' caps and giver what fer...

Despite the last pic, they are used individually and have something to do with our favorite form of transportation, the two wheeled velocipede.

I'll give out the correct answer Monday night and announce the lucky winner :)

On to other buisness...

Tees are in!

The last shipment of tee's went out of here like nickle beers at a county fair (that's like, really fast, for you city dwellers ) so here's your chance to pick up the latest version.

It is a 50/50 cotton blend ringer tee with heather brown shirt and chocolate brown rings on the collar and sleeves. The perfect colors for your after ride lounging as dirt and grease will blend right in and won't even look like it needs washed for like, I dunno, 6 months at least (if you can stand the stink that long) ;)

Printing on the front and back for peoples pleasure as you come and go.

A shot of the front graphics.

And below is the back...

Cost is $17.50 for the shirt and 5 bucks shipping in the US, 10 dollars overseas.

I'll be taking them with me to the show, but if you want your's before they are gone again, you can send the money by paypal to .

If you have not yet checked out NAHBS, looky here; , lot's of good stuff :)