As I've been writing the final parts of the copy for this website (2013) I've also just started working on a bicycle frame for a customer in New England that is to be his celebration of a half-century of an inspired interest in lugged bicycle frames. In a way it is sort of a dream bike. It's his dream bike, and a bicycle more of his design, or of his sense of aesthetics, than my own. But I like the design because he has good taste and an uncommon knowledge of bicycle frame design. In essence, I'm building his bicycle on commission, with a frame design that is in part his inspiration and ideas, but within my own composition, and which includes a lot of improvisation in details on my part. It's a bicycle that will go well beyond my normal performance, consequently the name, Encore.
This is the photo of the sample lug that I sent off to the person for whom I am building the Encore. Normally I dislike lugs that have windows that are within the castings, and I fill them up with brass before I braze the lugs into a frame. But, in this case I had to come up with a design, upon request, that I liked and this is what I came up with in this long-point lug design. I should also make note of the fact that I think that lugs are normally much too small and that they get swallowed up in a bike frame. This lug may look quite large (partly due to the short lens of my cheap camera) but in a 56cm frame it will seem quite balanced in size.
The Encore is not exactly a model, but more of a process, and it's something that I offer as part of being a custom bicycle builder. The frame model for this particular customer is very close to the Eclipse model, but it's not an Eclipse. The basic design of the Eclipse is all there, but many of the details in the execution of the frame are inspired by the customer's ideas and sensibilities and it's my job to physically articulate those ideas in a pleasing manner. In many ways this Encore represents a very wide departure from my own approach to nuances in building an Eclipse 700, or any other model of frame for that matter.
The fork crown of this particular frameset is one that I would not otherwise use. The fork blades are of a different design from which I have ever used, as is the shape of the bend in the blades. The unique bend requires that I design and fabricate a one-of-a-kind fork bender for the project. Each of the lugs in the frame is quite different, stylistically, from any that I've ever created and necessitates that I design new tooling to hand-shape the lug patterns that utilize very long lug add-ons. The bottom bracket shell follows the intricacies of the three main lugs and must be executed in a manner that is not likely to ever be repeated. The fork and stay ends that I was asked to create for the frame require that I develop a new, and somewhat complicated, machining and brazing method. The approach that I've taken in designing the dropouts is not only unique in my experience, I've never seen such a method used among any other builders.
Before this frame I'd never built a frame with a semi wrap-around seat stay design, which I don't particularly care for generally. So the challenge for me in designing the upper seat stay ends was to come up with a semi-wrap design that I find very pleasing and that my customer really likes as well. Upon seeing my first sample, which is a long, fluted wrap-around with very sharp ends, his response was what I was hoping for: It's absolutely perfect. And before I started building this frame I had never built a frame outfitted with center-pull brakes, but center-pull brakes, that are uniquely set up in conjunction with their specialized mounts, are what I'm fitting to the frame. Even the geometry of the frame is unique unto itself. In many ways the frame varies quite widely in technique and detail from what I, or any other frame builders, generally fabricate.
The Encore is a true one-of-a-kind bicycle that resonates what I consider to be the essence of custom frame building: it's individually inspired, it's imaginative and improvisational in it's design and it reflects a rare dimension of craftsmanship. It's creative expression is nuanced in each of its details as it exhibits passion and flair within an uncompromising blend of form and function. It's something special that I'm happy to offer. (And yes, I will post pictures of this frame on this website when it's finished sometime in 2014).
Base price of the Encore: $7777