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Thread: Richard Sachs Cycles

  1. #1601
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    The Spree

    Despite having been abroad and with the experiences that come with working in a small production shop for almost a year, I consider myself a maker with no real pedigree. The time in London was beyond enjoyable, and I did learn some. But I didn’t leave with many tools or a skill set. What I really had was a once in a lifetime opportunity to stand at the side of others who came up in a family business and who let me watch as they worked. To that end, I am more self taught than not.

    I channeled all of this into my own brand by 1975. Though there were questions along the way, the business grew and I always had work. But there was always this nagging, “This picture is not complete and I don’t know why…” thing looming. It came to a head after maybe seven years at the bench.

    I began to think the niche I evolved past the point of my ability to keep pace. It seemed that bicycle making was less the result of a craftsman bleeding for his art and more a process that involved collaboration, more than a single pair of hands, and that a space with lots of big, heavy, expensive tools was de rigueur (French for you gotta have that shit bro‘). That last part was especially true when the film crew arrived.

    By 1981 and completely lost in my own sea of charming little spring clamps, straight edges, and angle iron, I started spending heavily on tonnage from Bike Machinery and Marchetti + Lange, two Italian firms that made function specific devices for my trade.

    Shopping is definitely good for the soul. For a brief moment I thought it just can’t get any better than this. That feeling eventually left me.





  2. #1602
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  3. #1603
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    Play & Work

    A trove of RS archives loaned late 2013 came home. I haven’t touched many of the contents in a long while. Those in this picture tell a story, and it’s one of shifting focus as well as adding dimension. The gist is that by 1990 I began to look at more than the work I was doing at the bench and threw myself into a redecorating mode. My bicycles had one or two specific looks dating back to early 1975 and it was time to play with colored pencils.

    The cutouts shown are a tiny sample of what’s here. This cross-section speaks to the energy I spent doodling, learning about copy and stat machines, teaching myself how to safely use X-Acto knives, and also about design systems. There were many elements I was interested in but I had to think critically and narrow choices so that they’d all work together. None of these saw the light of day.

    I did this type of work on and off for at least 15 years, making small edits to my branding. The constant resetting of the table consisted of such small changes at a single time that few, if any, noticed. And when I did replace one version with what would come next, I didn’t call attention to it. I just did it.

    Everything fell into place by 2007 after which revisions had to do with ink color rather than logo use, shadows, font sizes, placement on bicycles, or incorporating same into soft-goods. And by 2012 I tossed the lot of it away, knocked on the door at House Industries, and asked for a complete makeover.




  4. #1604
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    Richard Sachs Ink

    Here’s a brochure from 1975. It was a three page folded unit, printed both sides. One of the panels was an order form. These were mailed in nice square-flapped envelopes to folks who answered my advertisements placed in the day’s periodicals.

    The originals were made by Riverside Press, just across the tracks from the Essex Steam Train. The latter remains and is going strong while the former closed years ago. It was a true print house that had all the lead fonts, noisy machinery, and ink smells staining the air inside the shop walls. I recall bringing a hand-made rendering to Rob the proprietor and he in turn would suggest a layout, type sizes, and paper options. Together we chose the decorative wingdings that served as borders between distinct thoughts or elements in the piece.

    I’d go on to produce many forms of branding collateral. As time passed and my tastes refined, the projects became more elegant and austere. Some contained more technical information than others depending on the era. Others were more about me than the bicycles depending on the era. But all of them, each postcard, self-mailer, tear sheet, and catalog, were as important to me as the work I did at the bench.

    I rarely look at my studio work without considering how to present it. Both tasks please me, almost equally. No matter how much I sweat the details when there’s a tool in my hand or some material on the table, finding a nice box to put it all in is part of the job.



  5. #1605
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    Why I Do This

    The bicycle as a tool for the sport first got me wet and sticky while still a junior at The Peddie School. I read every niche magazine I could touch. I studied position and posture when I should have been working on academic assignments. I looked at where riders placed their gear and brake levers. At the cable paths too. I noticed how high the white socks came up on their ankles. And if their Dettos appeared well polished in the photographs.

    My own racing has been at times forgettable, and every so often memorable. I’ve pinned on numbers since 1972. It took me until I was near thirty before I could actually race, rather than just ride around following wheels.

    My best road years were the middle 1990s when my club merged with Stowe B.C. During our second season, I hit a stride. I turned myself inside out during the week so that whatever was thrown at me on the weekend was easy. Results came. Confidence was ever-present. And I feared nothing.

    Unlike earlier periods in life when I’d look at signup sheets and worry about who’d be at my side in a given event, I was now at a place where none of it mattered. It had all come together. My attitude, “Someone has to win this, it might as well be me.” fueled every start. It’s a lesson that came from nowhere, but when it arrived, I took it into the rest of my life.

    Say what you will about man’s need for competition. That he needs a challenge. Or validation. For me, the peloton is equal parts classroom, chess board, and research library. From racing, I learned to read situations, hone instincts, and hear my own voice.



  6. #1606
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    Windows 2.0

    My window sill maybe 1980. The Spring Street studio, my second in Chester. At the corner of Spring and Main. Not much more than 800 square feet with some storage in a loft around the east side of the building. I spent a decade in this space. It was kinda’ cool. Spring was a bit elevated as it poured into Main so my perch looking down on the village offered a lovely vista. I was directly across from Robbie’s Store, an original old fashioned candy store that sadly was sold off to a string of occupants, all of whom ran a food shop or café of some sort. It’s been The River Tavern for a while. They don’t offer egg creams, and the kids don’t congregate at the fountain after school or during the summer months. But they do serve a date pudding that takes forever to make, so you have to know you want it after your meal, and order it before the menus arrive. Or maybe you order it the month before. I forget. Well it used to be like that when we lived around the corner on North Main.

    The sill – remember the sill – always had a quirky mix of tools, braze-ons, and figurines. Even though I didn’t have a walk-in trade, I wanted the space to look interesting and even inviting from the outside. The right mix of tchotchkes is all it takes to turn a pedestrian’s head or to make a car pause while the driver strains to make out what it is he’s looking at.




  7. #1607
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    Being Boss

    With the Piccoli Gioielli art files complete in 2009, I prepared myself for what’s next. Having brazed and filed more than 15,000 dropouts it was time to clone my vision and lighten my day to day labor load. The designs were deliberately a wee bit different that what I had been doing for decades. I’d taken the horizontal shape as far as I could. It would be verticals going forward.

    I did myself a favor and had three distinct angles made because, really bro’ – that should cover the spectrum of frame geometries I’d be dealing with. And like any maker of craft would assume, there’s enough wiggle room in these mating parts to take care of the odd dimension that doesn’t play nicely with others as the intersections on that next bicycle tell you where they are going.

    And then there are the outliers, those orders that require critical thinking, a trait that attests to why some of us are paid the big bucks. What does one do when the only two feet you have won’t stand firmly in the corner mapped out for them? You show all involved who’s boss and start bending some legs. It all works so well when the result looks like it’s what you had in mind all along.



  8. #1608
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    Killing My Fantasy

    In 1979 I went to Italy with pal Len Preheim (RIP) for a 20 day trip that centered around the Milan Show. While there we drove to every frame maker of renown. We had either invitations or letters of introduction for each brand. We went nowhere unannounced. It was a dialed itinerary.

    For me, this was Ground Zero. I came up in an era when the Italians drove the bus. Their place in the trade’s pecking order had no equal. I spent almost a decade fantasizing about who these people were, what the men looked like, and how work was done on the shop floor.

    The notion I had, that of a European version of me, but older, more experienced, and with the wisdom that comes from being in a self-sustaining culture was challenged from the first meeting. These were not people who viewed bicycle making as a craft or one of the decorative arts. I met none who could fathom making one frame at a time for one client.

    The travel was enlightening. I returned to Italy often. I was looking for something that didn’t exist. And each time came back to my own space resolved to make it work. After that first trip, I brought together a shooter, a graphic designer, and played wordsmith. I spent a small fortune printing my first four color brochure telling anyone who was interested exactly who I was and what I did.

    My many sojourns abroad pushed me to switch gears and look my job less as part of the creative process, less a part of the food chain that offered chichi bespoke luxury goods to the cognoscenti and the rich, and more a maker of things, of tools for the sport, and a supplier of well-designed machines for those seeking them.




  9. #1609
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    Just Keep Walking

    One of the day’s pleasures is taking my dog for a walk. That’s not walking the dog. The latter is about routine, getting him some exercise, and letting him pee. When we walk together, it’s a chance to get away from everything and let the steps lead us. Hardly a plan. No prescribed routes. And stopping to sniff or just sit down to catch a breath is fine. Sometimes encouraged. An hour or so for these indulgences is about normal.

    My daily is filled with me and more me. Waking moments are consumed with what’s at the bench and how to tie a ribbon around it. In these digital times, the box is wider and deeper, and the ribbon much longer. It’s like a room you come into and realize there are no exit signs. Some punch holes through the walls and leave, often with a last declaration so all left inside know full well that they’re going. But they still peek through the window. Most do. I think they do.

    Walking with Buddy – the aptly named Buddy – is a way for me to stand on tiptoes and have a look outside. There are other pleasures I take to remind myself to live a fuller life. Not many. But enough.




  10. #1610
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    Could Be Us

    I love this book. There are no words. From end to end it’s one page after another of images showing two renowned horologists in their natural environment. I bought my copy from Shellman’s in 2006. I keep it nearby and open it for inspiration. Watchmakers seem to have a deep connection to their trade and its history. I’d like to see that trait when I look around the room I work in. I don’t.

    By nature, I’m a loner. I obsess. Details are important. I’m also a Jersey Boy so there’s a gang streak down my back, probably more from the influences of popular culture than anything real. But self-selected groups have an allure. Being locked in a room with your closest peers can be invigorating. And there doesn’t have to be a lock, or even a room.

    There’s an assemblage of craftsmen who make up the Académie Horlogère des Créateurs Independents. That’s AHCI for the foreign word challenged. The AHCI formed in the early 1980s under a different name. Two makers with a concept tried to harness their creative and commercial interests and by the end of the decade there were eight members. Some thirty five years later there are still fewer than three dozen watchmakers in the the AHCI.

    Often I’ll look out that window near my workbench and wonder about the decisions and judgments that keep the organization’s numbers low and its growth controlled. Then I’ll turn the pages and it becomes clear to me that these men are different and what they’ve achieved is the exception. And if I spend enough time staring at the pictures, I can almost see the faces of those who share the room with me.




    .

  11. #1611
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    Finish Work

    The painful part of what I do centers around finishing the task. The beginning is where the hope is. When nothing has gone wrong. It’s where I wanna be and never leave. A feeling this maker lives for. But no one can ride a concept, or a drawing, or would pay me for half a frame. So I have to get to that third day, the one when everything comes to a close. The day a commission is typically serial numbered and logged into the book.

    When I’m near the end of a build, there’s this sense of dread. I’m obsessed with small things that over the 36 hours bothered me about the collaboration – meaning me, with the metal and heat. When things go well, I expect it. It’s why I practice. But it never fails that one dimension, one file stroke, one small effort to own the brazing rod – it never fails that something zags rather than zigs.

    The end, those last several hours when all I can think about is nailing one shut so I can wake up to start another and bask in that aura of hope.



  12. #1612
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    That Line

    There is always someone ahead of you who’s seen more, done more, and is better at it. Whether all of this is true or not doesn’t matter. You have to believe that the line is at least one step more. Many steps if you’re humble. And self-aware.

    We never really get to that place where it’s all licked. To the moment when we’re completely satisfied that we know it. We have to believe there’s a technique, more to the mix, another way of looking at what we do. And that some out there have reached that place. We all have that someone, or lists of someones. Even if they’re not real, they stand there in their masterful way, curl their index finger and lure you closer to the line.

    And just when you’re almost there, the line moves.




  13. #1613
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    -- & the atmosawa...

    ronnie
     

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