I attended UBI’s brazing course in August of 2009. I wanted a practical bicycle to be used for everyday fun, everyday practicality, and everyday style. I already commute daily on a vintage steel bike, but wanted one that I could casually go to the farmer’s market, go the movies, go to dinner, coffee, run weekend errands. I am infatuated with the Porteur style French bicycles of the 1920′s and 30′s that dominated the Parisian streets delivering newspapers and courier goods. It’s upright and comfortable, classic in styling, propped for utility but tweaked for Portland, Ore. living. Some highlights are wooden fenders, leather accouterments, integrated brass bell into stem, and nearly all U.S.A. made parts.
I attended the very first frame building class in April at UBI’s Portland campus. I wanted to build a city bike that would be good for year-round riding but comfortable for longer rides as well. Furthermore, I wanted something elegant, beautiful and with fine detail, like many classic Italian road bikes I admire. Aside from Ron, we were also fortunate to have Joseph and Tony helping out in the class as well. With their help, I have managed to build something even nicer than what I imagined. Although I tend to prefer a single speed bike now, I chose a dropout with a derailleur hanger on it and added cable guides, should I, or my knees decide that I’d like some gears for a change. I also brazed on eyelets for fenders, water-bottles and a rack, in the event that I want to do some touring at some point in time. I chose Columbus tubing, which kept my bike in the “Italian spirit” along with the Campy & Cinelli components that I threw on it. Oh and most importantly, the name comes from my first love, my family. My children’s names are Benjamin and Isabella. I am forever grateful to them and my awesome wife for understanding my obsession enough to let me use two weeks of my vacation time to build myself a bicycle. If UBI did not open a campus here in Portland, I never would have been able to have done this. My bike fits me perfectly and rides like a dream. I could not be happier with what I now call my own.
After a year and a half, the mixte frame I built has become a bicycle! My intent was to create a high-speed commuter bike, one that would get me to work in no time flat, would handle well in traffic and would also be fun to ride. It does, and it’s fabulous. Some of the special features: the integral rack (that I built despite Gary’s opposition) makes so much sense that I wonder why all frames don’t include one — there are no bolts to rattle loose, the bridges provide a place to bolt the fender on, thus eliminating fender stays, and the thing is totally solid. I had a tough time figuring out where to run the bar-end shifter cables since they conflicted with the brakes, so I ended up drilling the handlebars the shifter cables through the bar. Other than that, assembly went smoothly and the bike has everything I want, right down to the handlebar-mounted coffee cup holder. It also matches my bag perfectly. Thanks so much for the great class!
Part of the reason why it took me a year and a half to complete the bike was that the unconventional design meant that I left UBI with a few bridges short of a frame, so I had to take a metalworking class to learn to machine aluminum blocks into tubing holders for my vise, and upgrade my torch with a better tip, and outfit my workshop with the right files, and do a bunch of other prep work before I could install the last few bridges. But now my workspace is all set to build a bike for my husband, who’s been bugging me to hurry up and finish my bike already.
Alex Meade from your November frame class. Now a complete bike. Thanks again for all of your help with the mixte frame.
Ciao UBI ragazzi !
How’s life at the dawn of the big global financial economic depression followed by a major oil crisis? My frame made it to Italy a few days ago – yeah, that’s how fast the Italian customs are… and at last I could throw some parts onto it and ride it. I’ve been using it for my everyday commute to and from everywhere and I’m lovin’ ít, I didn’t manage to break it yet, but I’m sure trying