Road Kings: Racing Bicycles
A select few bicycle builders across the united states are hand-crafting the ultimate human-powered vehicles
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For those who really want to turn their bicycles into statements on wheels, a few builders specialize in exotic finishes. They'll etch designs into the tubes and sculpt the lugs into leaves, flames or other shapes and forms, as well as do flashy paint jobs on the frame. Seattle's Glenn Erickson will even encrust tubes with semiprecious stones. Such flamboyant bicycles are as much for the collecting and showing as for the riding.
A handmade bicycle is clearly not for riding to the corner grocery. "Nobody walks in the door who isn't a dedicated cyclist," says Weigle. "Most have thought about it a long, long time. It isn't an impulse buy. They finally have the time and the means to purchase something they've truly wanted."
"For me," says Caprio of his Weigle, "it's a psychological thing. I've always wanted to get a Ferrari, but my income has never allowed it. This bicycle has a similar feeling. It's extravagant, but I could have spent a lot more money on less useful things."
With so much thought, money, time and effort invested, riders develop deep emotional attachments to their bicycles. It's their ride. Turnage is typical of such bicyclists. He doesn't stint when it comes to describing the feel and beauty of his Richard Sachs bicycles. Again, he compares Sachs's approach to frame building to the notoriously meticulous Ansel Adams's efforts in the darkroom. "There's the same almost over-the-top devotion to craft coupled with a great pride and humility," he says.
"Richard's work is a summit for American craftsmanship of the age in any field. I love fast, beautifully made cars. I appreciate Patek Philippe watches, the control you have with Hasselblad and Leica cameras, the feel of Hermès leather. I'm more satisfied with Richard's bikes than almost anything I've ever purchased. The bottom line is he creates bicycles that ride better than any other I've ever been on."
Marc Wortman is a freelance writer based in New Haven, Connecticut.
THE WHEEL THING
For the best of the bicycle maker's craft, consult the following.
BRIAN BAYLIS 7839 North Avenue, Lemon Grove, California 91945, 619-463-8611
COLUMBINE John Murphy, PO Box 338, Bellvue, Colorado 80512, 970-224-1168
ROLAND DELLA SANTA 36 Kohlepp Avenue,Reno, Nevada 89509, 702-322-2305
GLENN ERICKSON 6119 Brooklyn NE, Seattle, Washington 98115, 206-527-5259
BILL HOLLANDS 3735 Kenora Drive, Spring Valley, California 92077, 619-469-1772
RICHARD SACHS CYCLES Richard Sachs, 1 Main Street, Chester, Connecticut 06412, 860-526-2059
SEVEN CYCLES Rob Vandermark, 125 Walnut Street, Watertown, Massachusetts 02172, 617-923-7774
SPECTRUM CYCLES Tom Kellogg, 1190 Dorney Road, Breinigsville, Pennsylvania 18031, 610-398-1986
J. PETER WEIGLE 410 Town Street, East Haddam, Connecticut 06423, 860-873-1671