One of the greatest currencies we can share is trust. To simply put your faith in another person and let go of the outcome. It’s not easy, but the rewards are great. The greatest compliments I’ve been given as a writer have not come from those who have praised my work after it’s written. No, they’ve come from those people who give me the faintest nudge of an assignment and trusted me to run the ball to the endzone.
That’s all it takes. I’m off.
We’re in a true golden age of frame building. The skill level of even garage builders is stunning, higher than much stuff sold commercially back in the 1970s. The veterans are turning out work the belies a care for craft that has nothing to do with commerce and everything to do with integrity. And there are the young Turks bent on making a mark.
It has never been a better time to be the client of a steel frame builder.
Of that new generation few builders have impressed me with their dedication to art the way Chris Bishop has. What he’s chasing—frame sales aside—is unintentionally going to result in a legacy. He’s paying respect to a grand tradition that harkens to an age when anything worth making was worth making well, meant to stand up for a generation, and if it was meant to last it ought to be beautiful. To his credit, he’s smart enough not to hijack an order for his own purposes; he’s a great artisan, but he’s an even better listener.
When I ordered this frame I made a conscious decision to request that he do more of what he was already chasing. His penchant for adding fillets to lugs to smooth the transitions between the points and thinning the points to blades was something I’d seen rarely in the last 10 years. His sense of proportion was refined, beyond his years. I simply wanted to give him a palette to go dance with his muse. While I didn’t want a cost-is-no-object bike, I told him to do the work he wanted and I’d keep sending money as I was able until he told me to stop.
I did the same thing with Joe Bell. I told him to go nuts. “Go do what you do,” I said. I gave him direction on what colors I wanted and I asked that “There will be chaos, keep pedaling.” appear somewhere on the bike, but that was it. I need to add a nod to Joe’s assistant Jonny Pucci. He’s a real talent. He worked out the math on the repeating kites; crazy difficult to do on a swaged tube.
The highest compliment I’ll ever give either of these guys, two of my favorite artisans I’ll ever have a chance to own work by, is to simply give them a chance to do what they do best, without the worry of whether or not they are putting too many hours into the job for it to be profitable.
Yes, I’m proud to own this bike, but I’m more proud to give them a chance to do work they want to be known by. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.