Hi folks, my name is Jake Rosenfeld, I'm 41, and tentatively flirting with the name Huckleberry Cycles for no other reason than that it is hard to say "huckleberry" without smiling. I got in line for Smoked Out because I'm a sometimes contributor to the FNL section and a regular part of the peanut gallery in the rest of this awesome place.
After reading along with the other builders that have gone before me here, I am a little less worried about telling my whole story in the preamble. I think a lot of what and who we are has come out in the question and answer portion, and it has been a pleasure to be able to look in the window.
I left home and school at age 16, and thanks to a friend taking me to his parents feed mill, I was working full time within the week. After a year there, it was the typical work stream of a young man - various contractors, the shipyards, and I worked as a logger for more than a year. By the time I was twenty I had settled on framing, by twenty three I had gone into business for myself, and by twenty five I had builders flying my crew and I to Hawaii for a month at a time to frame vacation homes. By twenty nine I had paid off my first piece of equipment; an Pettibone 4wd-RT extenda-boom fork lift, by thirty five I had paid off my crane. The last ten years have been spent focusing on building large, technical houses on difficult lots. Here is a house as an example that I did a few years ago, some of you may recognize it as the vampires house in the movie "Twilight" http://www.neurosoftware.ro/programm...e-in-portland/
Through all of this I have always maintained a shop and have constantly strove to increase my skillset in as many areas as possible. By nature I'm drawn to build and repair as much of my own stuff as I can. Around 1999 or so I obtained my structural welding certification, turning a lifelong hobby into a paying part of my business. Many of the odd houses that I am called to frame incorporate structural steel, and being able to provide this service streamlines the job for the people who hire me. More and more I find myself being asked to do small, one of a kind metal or mixed media type work. I don't turn much of this type of work down, as I realize that my body won't allow me to frame forever and quite frankly I'm getting a little bored with it. Most of all, I love a good project; finding all the parts, figuring the tooling, detailing the process, and learning a new technique all play into what makes my world go round.
Bikes totally fill this bill. I started trying to build frames about 5 years ago, but really gained momentum 2 years ago when the economy inadvertently allowed me more time off from regular work and I was able to focus more time on technique and tooling. I have been riding and racing my own frames in road, mountain and cyclocross pretty regularly for the last three years. I find the best way to get better at framebuilding is to ride my mistakes. Nothing makes me want to build a better bike then knowing everyone is looking at the same mistakes as I am.
Without a formal training program, I have to consider myself self taught (and still learning). I totally credit the internet and all the builders that have taken the time to detail their work and make it available to the public via forums and links to Flickr sets with making that path possible. It's true that a picture is worth a thousand words, but I think that estimate may be on the low side in some cases. I would like to thank Richard Sachs for hosting a killer page full of photo streams on his site - there are some people there that can tell a story with a camera. I know that in the age of the "internet builder" that this path is often looked down on, but I think in a lot of cases it's an unfair labeling as there are plenty of folks with skillsets that transfer to framebuilding quite well. True there are folks getting into it that have no business getting near the tool drawer in the kitchen, let alone a torch, but for the most part a picture, if you know what you are looking at, is a valid teacher. I feel my progression from a know-nothing to my current status as a newbie has been absolutely textbook. I bought all the fancy tubesets and attempted the hardest techniques first, in the exact fashion that countless dreamers are told not to do. I moved thru this period pretty quickly, settling down into a routine of working within my skill level, trying to develop at least one new skill per frame, getting my build process nailed down, and creating at least one new tool or aid that could help with the next frame. Some frames never made it past the front triangle stage, some only made it a few rides, but all of them, when it was decided that their usefulness was over, have been subjected to destructive testing. I've cut up, smashed, and tried to rip apart welded joints. I've carefully made cuts in main tubes to watch for unwanted tensioning and successfully made adjustments to my process to eliminate this effect. To date I have no failures, (edit; one cracked seatstay at the dropout from not employing a disc brace). I'm sure the longer my bikes are on the road that some will come, but I'm always mining the internet for construction tips or forensic conversations on why a dropout failed or a lug cracked and I am quick to change it up if I find I am doing something questionable.
As far as how I came to framebuilding I wouldn't say that I came on what seems to be a traditional path. I've never worked as a bike mechanic or even in the industry, (although I do all my own wrenching). I've had my nose buried so deeply in my first career and my family that I never even really started riding seriously until my early thirties. I will say that at this point, I am looking to add it to my list of things that I do to make a living. Not full time at this point, but It's always been fun to watch how things can develop. Insurance is in the works and the first couple of bikes are lined up. I don't really consider framebuilding a huge departure from what I am already doing for work. I've been self employed for 18 years now so I have a decent handle on the whole time management, deadline, tax thing, which seems to (understandably) hamstring some folks just starting out.
Anyway, I want to say thank you to the V-salon team for the tremendous opportunity to put my story not just out there, but grouped in with such an incredible group of individuals in a setting that only increases in value with each addition. Love you guys!