New England builders ball 2013

Get yourself down to the Biltmore in Providence RI this weekend for the New England Builders ball, a get together of some of the finest small builders from New England.

Look at some great bikes, enjoy a cold IPA and try not to place too many orders.

Providence Biltmore on Friday, Oct. 4, 2013
Admission: free, with suggested donation. Formal wear not required!

More details here:

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Talbot Frameworks

It’s not everyday you stumble across a frame building shop in your neighbourhood but that’s exactly how I found Matt from Talbot Frameworks.

Talbot Frameworks is run out of the back of a small bike shop in the leafy South London suburb of Crystal Palace. The Talbot name itself is nothing new, having been the name under which frame building took place in Crystal Palace as far back as 1940′s.

Talbot Frameworks of today is unconnected other that by name. The quality of the work coming out of this little workshop speaks for itself; tight lines, detailed finishing and builds tailored specifically for you. Definitely one to watch. Until I get chance to chat to the guys further, feast your eyes on some recent Talbot Frameworks’ builds.

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Paul Components custom colours

Paul Componenents have been making nice parts since 1989. From their ultra rare rear mechs of the 90′s to timeless brakes of today, any Paul piece adds a certain finesse to a build.

And now you can have any colour your heart desires… This month’s customer colour is Blue.

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Independent Fabrication Factory tour

Independent Fabrication have come a long way since their 1995 inception back in Sommerville; Angles & Poise were lucky enough to visit the place IF now call home.

Having been a long time fan of Independent Fabrication, rider of a Crown Jewel and a Steel Deluxe as well as IF being a massive part of the New England Bloodline it was great to finally visit the place Independent Fabrication currently reside. A beautifully converted factory building in sunny Newmarket NH, an hour or so north of Boston, is home – Chris Rowe & Gary Smith were kind enough to share their time and give us a snoop round.

Manufacturing for IF and Bailey Works as well as a retail store sit under a single roof in a mixed use space. The overall front of house setup was very impressive, great retail design within the architecture of an older building stocked with some amazing IF’s as well as a few other brands to keep things balanced. It was great to see the full IF range when usually you’ll only ever see one or two bikes together. In every corner stood a glossy reminder of what IF is all about – a Crown Jewel was in the stand, several Deluxe Redux’s gleamed. Steel, Ti and carbon lined the walls in the guise of Factory Lightweights, Deluxe’s and XS’s . A Fat Chance Yo Eddy hung on a wall as a knowing nod to where it all began.

The little door to the right is what we’re all here for though – onto the ‘shop floor.

First stop was a skim through Bailey Works fabrics, production tables and machines. Bailey Works are very under represented in the UK, but some really nice messenger and travel bags come out of the work room – I’ll do a fuller review at some stage of what Bailey Works I can get some time with.

Stepping into the Independent Fabrication ‘shop the romantic in me said ‘this is where the magic happens’ but in reality laid out before us was a really tidy fabrication facility set up for the hard work of bike building and it was great to follow the journey a frame takes through the line.

First up are flat bed mills and drills where tubes are prepped as well as production of custom dropouts and solid machined components. Amongst the heavy machines sit the all important proprietary IF jigs where custom specified steel and Ti tubes are all held in place and with delicate tack welds the frame takes shape. Unlike the early days every frame IF build is custom fit, so the care that must go into the jig and tack process must be mind bending. The box of newly cut Ti XS tubes was testament to the detail in tube prep and the tolerances of tube junctions pre weld was microscopic. Most of the machines and tooling made its way over from Sommerville meaning everything has a really sense of authenticity and honesty about it even in a much newer space.

Moving over to the golden veiled welding area you pass boxes of XS Ti tubes, buckets of remnants and the odd fork lying around to where to where Brian Kelly and Keith Rouse pull it all together with meticulous order. Every step in the tack and weld process is planned to create the straightest of frames fresh out of the jig. Old and new TIG welders, in the hands of the men in charge, produce some of the nicest welds you’ll see on a big frame anywhere. Welding takes place in nothing more sophisticated than a workshop stand – albeit a workshop stand with hulk like proportions. After the welding process alignment and reaming steps ensure any slight imperfections are ironed out to produce an arrow straight frame, honed to the micron ready for paint.

We then step over to take a look at Chris’s office –  a state of the art spray booth that would probably make McLaren jealous. It’s perfectly lit and odourless; a place where the dark arts of perfect paint congregate. IF aren’t ones to scrimp on flair and with talk of gold leaf, painters choice and wild combinations that IF are famous for you can see why the IF spray booth is more than just a place to put on a layer of colour on a perfectly fabricated frame. It’s the place your IF finds itself; it’s personality applied layer after layer to give every painted IF a coat to be proud of. Paint mixing has it’s own dedicated space and the palette available is mind bending.

Next stop; carbon. With all this talk of tacking, and all things hot it’s easy to forget the Corvid, but in the east wing sits the jigs, components and tools that pull together the ENVE composites materials to produce one of the industries most recognisable carbon flyers. Custom designed, the Corvid uses probably the most elaborate lugs on the planet – we’re talking Americas Cup, F1 carbon engineering here. In a specific jig the lugs and tubes are aligned and bonded, again custom fit and specified for each individual rider.

Finally we meet graphic wizard Ryan who’s finished everything off and sending on their way the perfectly formed and finished fruits of everyone’s hard work. Days worth of labour (not to mention countless years of combined  experience) packed into nondescript frame boxes destined for the grubby little hands of IF Riders across the planet – from Taipai, to New York to London and Tokyo.

One thing that’s really clear from the visit is that IF has come a long way over the last few years. The twists and turns of its journey like a winding alpine descent have led it to a place where a small, passionate team produce some of the best bikes on the planet. The ideas, passion and talent IF team has is unquestionable. IF is in rude health.

Great to meet Chris who probably painted my Absinthe Green Crown Jewel and confirmed what I suspected – that Absinthe is about as special as it comes in terms of touching up – the patina will have to stay as it is…


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2012 New England Builders Ball, Providence RI

There’s no better way to begin a trip to New England than find yourself in a room packed full to the brim with some of the finest bicycles on the planet, live music and a chilled IPA in hand – that’s what a very jet lagged Angles and Poise roving reporter discovered at the 2012 New England Builders Ball

There’s not many places you get to see such a wide range of beautifully put together bikes and then to chat to the guys behind the tools was the icing on the cake.

Firefly’s were super nice with a clean Ti edge, Brian Chapman’s bikes had a real nice finish and crafted feel and Spooky’s fat alloy welds with what can probably only be described as ‘hyper glitter ball metallic’ literally lit up one corner of the room.

3 bikes of the show for me in no particular order…

Andrew Watson has some mad skills going on and probably the fattest head badges in North America. He brought down a slick black road machine that was destined for a customer but caught my eye for the paint detailing and classic good looks.

Kris Henry at 44 Bikes brought down 2 really great bikes the first being an immense 29er with super a super short chain stays which looked like it could ride itself and then a really really nicely finished cross bike. Kris has design and aesthetics nailed.

And then Marty at Geekhouse brought down a trio of Team Mudvilles. Flouro powder coat, oversized headtubes, bespoke ultra machined dropouts and some really very tidy welding came together to make a great set of bikes. Marty’s personal satin black Mudville was a definite head turner.

It was great to meet and chat with everyone on the night and great to see The New England Bloodline poster displayed as part of the show.

Here’s a few other snaps from the night…

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The Custom Road Bike by Guy Andrews

My advice would be to make room on your coffee table. The Custom Road Bike by Guy Andrews certainly deserves a spot.

Guy takes us on a lustrously illustrated journey around the custom road bike from base materials, to components, geometry and introduces us to some of the grand daddies of the frame building world; namely IF, Serotta, Parlee and Richard Sachs.

My only criticism is that for me, and I suspect many who embark into the world, it doesn’t delve deeply into the finer details of culture, brand or performance and instead chooses to touch on many subjects without great depth, to the point where I wonder if they’re of worth – a very light swing by current Campag versus SRAM groups for example.

In any case, it’s still a worthy addition to your shelf. It costs a little under £20 to buy, but will probably cost you a lot more in the long run.

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New England Builders Ball

Some of New England’s finest builders will coming together this year for the annual New England Builders Ball held in Providence RI on the 5th of October.

With a list of exhibitors including ANT, Geekhouse, 44 Bikes and Spooky it should be a really excellent event.

What’s even better though is that the New England Bicycle Bloodline will make it to print for the very first time and be available to view at the ball.

Find out more about the ball on the New England Builders Ball Facebook page.

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New England Bicycle Bloodline.

This project has been a long time in the making but I set out to chart the interconnections in the New England scene charting things back to the pioneering builders of the early 70′s. I had heaps of help along the way and will do a write-up of how I created the infographic soon.

UPDATE 06/08/12 – Thanks to everyone for the positive feedback on the graphic. Plenty of kind words and also some corrections. We’re now on V1.2… Keep any feedback coming though I think we’re a way of ‘finished’…

UPDATE 08/08/12 – V 1.3. Added Ted Wojcik, Spooky and Tomii as well as some other tweaks.

UPDATE 04/09/12 – V 1.4. Added 44 Bikes, Vicious and EWR and some other little items.

View the high res version here.

If you’re interested in some of the builders in the bloodline still working then here’s some links to explore.


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Crumpton Cycles

Stunning good looks and detailing to make your eyes water.

Crumpton sit along many US based custom carbon outfits in sourcing composite material form Enve Composites but as in many things the outcome as a whole is greater than the sum of it’s parts. Proprietary rear stays and a fit system based on both comfort and performance mean that a Crumpton is unique beyond what it’s sourced tubing might suggest.

Every frame still has the design and finish eye of Nick Crumpton which means the details are about as personal as you’re going to get.

Where Crumption really shines though is in their Special Projects, and when I say special they don’t get much more special than specifically commissioned framesets. With most special projects being ultralight road machines coming in at under 700 grams you can only imagine the process and price tag that comes along with a project commission. SL frames start at $5300 with a host of options.

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Enve Composites Factory Tour.

Inside the factory of one of the industries most innovative manufacturers.

Enve Composites need very little introduction, but what goes on inside the four walls of their high tech facility is a little less well known. Crumpton, Parlee, Independent Fabrication, Calfee all use Enve carbon so to see what goes into the production of some of the finest carbon components in the works is a rare pleasure.

Bike Rumor have the full lowdown:

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