is this on amazon yet atmo -
Wow...cool stuff..Don. It sounds you have had some serious adventures. Do you ever get the itch to do anything like that (ie Antartica) again? Also, what prompted you to start building tooling? You have clearly taken what was available to the next level and beyond....your stuff is not only functional, but beautifully designed and executed as well...was that sense of style your goal from the beginning? or a natural progression for you?
Do you do any machine work beyond your bicycle tooling? For example, drop outs, or other fittings for builders? How about outside of the bicycle industry?
Anyway..sorry for all of the questions...I've always been fascinated with and impressed by what you do.
On the MTB side, I see folks going back to its roots: simplicity, slack angles, full rigid, SS, you name it. 5 years ago in Colorado it was rare to see folks on hardtails unless it was an SS and nobody was rocking the full rigid. Now you're tripping over them left & right. 29ers are very fashionable now but again, nobody is going faster on them -- to me the difference is more in the geo forced by them, not the wheelsize.
Fixture sales: I tell this to anybody who'll stand still long enough -- I feel like the muffler mechanic in a small town. Every time a fixture goes out the door, I say, "well, that's it. That's the last car in town and that's the last muffler I'll sell." Never happens. We're selling frame fixtures like crazy right now. Today. I do think the sales in the US has slowed, maybe we're at the apogee, dunno', but our overseas sales have picked up dramatically. Korea is hot and so is Japan. There's a resurgence in EU. Spain! If it ever dries up, there are still a lot of parts that need making for 50 year old Volkswagens.
My honest to god opinion: this is the best time in the world to be in the bike biz & South Korea is the new Portland. As far as the US, more people than ever are riding. More folks are appreciating what ~we~ do. I say fuck $4 a gallon gasoline. Let gas prices do what they may; lets evolve!
1911? One word: Kimber. So hot right now.
Tool I'm most proud of? Man, that's tough. I think the last generation of Super Master was what most folks would expect, but I really think it's the Notorious BBG. It was completely out of the box and I think it's still an elegant, yet pragmatic, design that's modular enough to serve many functions. Then there's the FOG attachment for it that was a great little project. And I really like the Feng & Phrunt Shuis because that's when I started to just have fun designing things instead of sweating over them. And the fork fixture. And the new builder's wheel attachment for the BBG that is going to be another hand on forehead moment for folks. Fuck it. I'll say it: I'm proud of all of it!
What prompted me to start building tooling was frame building. I wouldn't have done one without the other. As far as the progression of the designs, I think it's natural and one of the benefits of making all our own stuff in house. If I want to change something, I just do There are obviously limits, like any frame builder, I have to consider the bottom line if I want to be around tomorrow, next year, or the next decade. Here's the truth about me: I hate sharp edges. I like organic, flowing, shapes. I will put a radius where most guys will put a chamfer and I'll put a chamfer where someone else won't even break the edge. This isn't a bikeworld only thing. We talk about this stuff all the time in the shop when we get something in we bought and it's covered in sharp edges and whatnot. No excuse for it really, it's just laziness.
99.9 percent of the work we do is for our own product. I have made dropouts for others and yokes and other parts but to date it's really not a good fit for my business because those projects end up competing for spindle time in the shop. I get lots of requests, but unless it's a good fit, I refer them to others. Anvil has only done two non-bike industry projects, both huge and both for science projects in the Arctic. I have made parts for Volkswagens and other personal projects but they don't count....:)
VW's: a story of progression....
first there was this:
Then there was this:
but it's really about this:
then there was this:
and that was buffed into this:
now there's this:
and who knows what it will look like next year! Probably the same.
I always loved bikes but the kicker came when I was working for a veterinarian when I was pretty young, 5th or 6th grade I think. We lived in Kennedale, Texas, the clinic was outside of Rendon. I think it was 13-miles each way or close to it. Rolling hills. Chased by dogs every time. The vet was a collegiate racer and had a garage full of road bikes with Itie names, silk tires, Campagnolo drive trains. He was impressed with my riding ability especially since I was putting 26 miles a day on a girls step through 26" Schwinn ( it was humiliating to ride that thing but it took forever to get there spinning my 20" Stingray ditch jumper). He let me ride one of those fancy bikes for a while and I could fly and the hook was set.
You know those frames that you never should have sold, but were young and dumb and sold anyway because you thought you needed to? When really you didn't, because eventually you'd have got whatever you wanted at the time one way or the other? The ones you should have held on to, and maybe built back up later and appreciated them in a whole awesome, new way? And they're still the best you ever had?
Mine were two Anvils.
I'm retarded. I miss them.
Don, have you ever thought about doing an 'Egalitarian' jig for the hobbyists out there? I think your jigs are good value for the lifers out there, but something simple and affordable for those that maybe only want to make a frame or two a year is probably a big hole in the market right now.
FRAMEBUILDING PARTS FOR SALE!
I've thought about, drew it, but never built it. We probably never will. Look at it this way: you could build a frame out of gas pipe & slap some Tourney parts on it, but it wouldn't be who your company is, right? It's not what you're into, right? Well, that's not who Anvil is either.
Among all the great Smoked Out stories, yours might be the bestest. If I’m following your story right, after one successful and singular career you start a 2nd building frames. And it turns out that not only do the fixtures you developed to build them draw their own market, but that creating and producing those clever, substantial tools is where your passion and talent lies.
So you’ve come, rightfully, to dominate that market. Maybe your character can only be satisfied when creating something new, as opposed to chasing the perfection of something already established? I’m pushing this long-distance psychology way too far, so I’ll drop it. Especially because I’ve really got no questions for you.
I just wanted to say that:
1. Reading this thread has been way entertaining;
2. Your whiskey recommendations, and your whiskey, have made my life better; and
3. I’m sorry I ever said your posts were narcissistic and petty, and even hostile.
I’m glad I know you. Maybe you'll get me on one of those Nancys someday. For now I’m going to throw my 26” dual-suspension Taiwan bike in the back of my bone-stock Honda Fit and go for a ride.
Going back through these, one thing I noticed (other than the misspellings & horrible punctuation) is that I've not given much credit to my workmates. There are 3 of us who work at Anvil each day. Lots of you had met Blaine in the past, he worked at ABW for near 8 years. I've known Blaine since '93, I think, as he was the service manager at my LBS. Lots of good times with Blaine over the years. He's moved on now but he was a big part of the team for a long time.
Near 3 years ago, we hired Matt, aka, "Elroy" as a helper. I met him on a group bike ride and he was fresh out of job and started working for us sweeping floors for $10 and hour. Didn't take Matt long to show what he was all about and move up from there. Those of you who attended the Indy or Richmond NAHBS have probably met Matt & he's the main man now. Being an IT guy, he took to programming right away and is now probably better than I am at it. He's methodical and thorough and has really come into his own as a machinist/operator. There's really nothing now in the shop that he can't do when it comes to setups and making parts. He's even proven to be a very competent designer. Matt is currently looking for his next ex-girlfriend, is a hell of a bike mechanic, and a mountain biker who DH races in the Expert/Cat 1 category.
We also have Kris who's been with us since March or April of this year. Kris has filled Matt's old job as helper, crater, and doer of things that need done. He has two Masters in business, his own Coffee Company, and we still have no idea why he wants to work with we two wine headed derelicts, but we're glad he does. Kris races MTB's as a Cat 1 and just recently competed in the Xterra World Championships.
Last edited by Archibald; 11-21-2010 at 11:52 AM.