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Thread: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

  1. #1
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    Default Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    First off thanks to VS for starting this really interesting dialogue!

    I guess metal started calling my name in high school. I went to an Arts Magnet HS
    where we had a full blown metal shop, not necessarily the norm for teens my age. MIG
    welders, TIG welders, Oxy-Acetylene rigs, angle grinders, plasma cutters, and a giant
    heap of donated steel were our course materials. I learned the basics of fabrication, and
    it was at this time that I sold my first hunk of steel for the whopping sum of $450 to my
    English teacher.

    Fast forward to college, Baltimore is my new home and Iʼd brought along a Trek 520
    touring bike that had belonged to my uncle and had once braved the hills of Scotland in
    the early 80ʼs. Coming from Dallas, Tx where the automobile reigns supreme, where the
    operators of said automobiles are possibly armed, and where most cycling is off road or
    on dedicated paths, the sheer idea of USING A BIKE INSTEAD OF A CAR was a
    foreign concept to put it mildly. I went to class on my bike, I went to work on my bike, I
    went to bars on my bike, and I went grocery shopping on my bike. I really canʼt stress
    the impact this had on my impressionable young mind; I was hooked and becoming a
    bit obsessive. I continued working with metal in college: making displays, casting
    aluminum, bronze, iron, and welding things for less welderly classmates. After receiving
    my BFA in Sculpture from Maryland Institute College of Art, I was questioning how to
    keep using my brain and my hands to create, while also contributing to my community
    and making the rent.

    Initially my trip to UBI was more of a vacation than a career move. My best girl and I
    drove from Baltimore to Portland, stayed with friends, and eventually made our way to
    Ashland. While I expected to be comfortable with the processes of frame construction, I
    did not anticipate the joy I felt while creating my first frame. The tools were the same but
    the aim was different. This object at the end of my labors was practical yet elegant and
    beautiful.

    One of the clearest moments of that two week period was Ron Sutphin remarking while
    watching me braze the DT/HT joint, “You know, you could really do this if you wanted
    to.” Iʼm sure he says that to all the girls was what initially went through my head but it
    stuck with me on the long drive down California to Texas back up to Maryland. When I
    got home I started buying some tools, cutting up scrap frames for tubing, toiling away
    with practice joints, and building frames for friends in the basement.
    Today Iʼm one collective owner of Baltimore Bicycle Works, a worker-owned retail repair
    shop that houses our custom brand Nash Cycles and will soon house our production
    line of hand-made bicycles. At the moment, 70% of my time is dedicated to shop duties,
    helping customers, doing repairs, ordering/admin stuff, and the rest at the bench. As the
    shop and our collective grows I hope to flip that ratio around and get more workers
    building bikes. Our goal is to promote goods made locally and conscientiously by
    making our bikes with the utmost care and attention to detail.

    At 24 years old, I realize my place on the giantʼs shoulder, and itʼs an honor to be able
    to share my experience albeit a brief one. Thanks for reading and Iʼm glad to answer
    any questions.
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Tommy,
    Thanks for posting. What are your favorite styles of frames to build? Which plays a bigger role in what you build, your art background or your history commuting?

    Jonathan

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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    Tommy,
    Thanks for posting. What are your favorite styles of frames to build? Which plays a bigger role in what you build, your art background or your history commuting?

    Jonathan
    Honestly I don't think I have a favorite style yet, I'm still learning what floats and sinks my boat. So far most of the frames I've made have been lugged, lot's of Single Speeds/Track Bikes. I'm halfway through a fillet brazed MTB for myself and it's been really fun and rewarding so far. The bike I'm working on now is a bi-laminate frame which presents it's own challenges and rewards.

    I think it's interesting how the Signal cats, Craig, and myself all have some "fine art (?)" connection. To me art has always been about three things: problem solving, thinking critically, and satisfying my need to physically create. I'll not project that onto the others, but I think building bicycle frames fits nicely in all of those categories and is probably why that first frame felt so good. I think being a commuter was just the starting point of my familiarity with the bicycle as a vehicle and how it should perform and feel. I don't know if it directly effects the frames... until we roll out the lugged commuting frame.
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Do you think about how your life experience and motivation can be used to promote cycling? That's a large blank slate however I do not wish to corner you!!! Hey, you've been to the block and know where John Waters gets his inspiration. Now what will come from Baltimore with the T.Nash brand? Curious how this stew of cultures and experiences will develop.

    Bravo sir.

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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Tall View Post
    Do you think about how your life experience and motivation can be used to promote cycling? That's a large blank slate however I do not wish to corner you!!! Hey, you've been to the block and know where John Waters gets his inspiration. Now what will come from Baltimore with the T.Nash brand? Curious how this stew of cultures and experiences will develop.

    Bravo sir.
    Thanks TT! Have you visited our little shop yet?

    My cohorts and I definitely try and promote the bicycle as the modus operandi for Baltimore, and the daily riders in the area get our shop and what we do. Josh is leading a Baltimore Labor History Tour via bicycle on May Day, anyone close should check it out.

    A bike that captures the grit and the grandeur that is Bmore would make for quite the project... I have to give that one more thought. Where's Tom P.?
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    We all know, or have some idea what makes your work similar to other made to measure/custom frames/bicycles, ie. Quality materials, tester joinery methods, attention to detail, and the delicate balance of producing a frame that is both esthetically pleasing and functional, but what makes your bike different?

    I think that it goes without saying that each of the builders in the “smoked out” thread create superior work, so without comparing yourself directly to another builder(s), what is it about your frames/bicycles that draws (or will draw) in clients?

    Thanks
    Andy
     

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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Tommy,

    Do you feel that bike commuting is on the rise in B'more aside from the fixie scene? Have you noticed a trend in the larger Baltimore bike community of growing interest in locally built bicycles? I'm aware of Nash, Palermo and Bishop, all in the area...do you see them as competitors, resources, collaborators?
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    tommy,

    your bikes painted by ----

    do you see your customer base leaning toward the "big name manufacturer" pro/team type bikes, hyped by marketing or---
    do / will they preceive you as the "knowledge tree" --- "having been there done that" for stepping up to a handmade custom bike....

    ronnie
     

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Quote Originally Posted by dcpdpayne View Post
    We all know, or have some idea what makes your work is similar to other made to measure/custom frames/bicycles, ie. Quality materials, tester joinery methods, attention to detail, and the delicate balance of producing a frame that is both esthetically pleasing and functional, but what makes your bike different?

    I think that it goes without saying that each of the builders in the “smoked out” thread create superior work, so without comparing yourself directly to another builder(s), what is it about your frames/bicycles that draws (or will draw) in clients?

    Thanks
    Andy
    Great question.

    I think when some one is in the market for a custom build they are looking for all of those things that you listed, but many times they're looking to connect with the builder. The human relationship between the manufacturer and the customer is a craving for some, this is just one outlet. What makes my frame different from the next? It's hard to answer that question without sounding markety... I guess one cool thing is that even though my name is on the tubes, the frames are products of their environments. Meaning that I'm always calling on my fellow workers for their thoughts and opinions here at the shop.

    I think in the end it's hard to say, "My bikes are different/better/more laterally stiff and vertically compliant than X's" because in this trade it seems like most cats spend their time at the bench making their best possible bike every time. To me this make us all infinitely different and similar.
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoCycles View Post
    Tommy,

    Do you feel that bike commuting is on the rise in B'more aside from the fixie scene? Have you noticed a trend in the larger Baltimore bike community of growing interest in locally built bicycles? I'm aware of Nash, Palermo and Bishop, all in the area...do you see them as competitors, resources, collaborators?
    Definitely! I've noticed a significant increase in commuting in my short 6 years here, and it's definitely a very large segment of our business (as is the fixie scene). People always get excited when we tell them we build our own frames too! Though not often excited enough to put down a deposit.

    Last year during Art Scape, BBW hosted a four man framebuilding show featuring myself, Tom Palermo, Chris Bishop, and John Hollands, hopefully it will happen again this year. They are all great guys and there's the sense that the shop door is always open. Of course we're all competing in a small market in a smallish town, but I've got their backs and I feel like they have mine. It's nice to know if I bugger up a dropout, good chance one of the fellas has a spare.
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Quote Originally Posted by ron l edmiston View Post
    tommy,

    your bikes painted by ----

    do you see your customer base leaning toward the "big name manufacturer" pro/team type bikes, hyped by marketing or---
    do / will they preceive you as the "knowledge tree" --- "having been there done that" for stepping up to a handmade custom bike....

    ronnie
    Circle A Cycles ferkin' rules at some paintin'.

    People get custom frames for so many reasons whether it's recreating a lost favorite frame, being 6' 8" and not having many choices out there, or just looking for something unique and having that personal dialogue with the builder. I hope by offering both full custom bicycles and semi-production locally made bicycles, our shop can offer different options for different riders.
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy Nash View Post
    Definitely! I've noticed a significant increase in commuting in my short 6 years here, and it's definitely a very large segment of our business (as is the fixie scene). People always get excited when we tell them we build our own frames too! Though not often excited enough to put down a deposit.

    Last year during Art Scape, BBW hosted a four man framebuilding show featuring myself, Tom Palermo, Chris Bishop, and John Hollands, hopefully it will happen again this year. They are all great guys and there's the sense that the shop door is always open. Of course we're all competing in a small market in a smallish town, but I've got their backs and I feel like they have mine. It's nice to know if I bugger up a dropout, good chance one of the fellas has a spare.
    I didn't know John Hollands was still building. That's good to know. He was a friend of the shop when I worked at Catonsville Bike Shop. Paul probably still has a polaroid of a bike John built for Gheorghe Muresan. That was pretty freaky.

    I'll be in the area in June...and will be inviting myself over to check out the shop and say hi.
    Sean Chaney
    www.vertigocycles.com
    a peek behind the curtain

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Let's see if this is on topic.
    The Tommy I know is dedicated and hard working.
    He supports his friends and is the best friend anyone could have.
    Tireless hours and shakes off the toil of the day with no loss of focus.
    Tommy is a true person of trust.
     

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Quote Originally Posted by VertigoCycles View Post
    I didn't know John Hollands was still building. That's good to know. He was a friend of the shop when I worked at Catonsville Bike Shop. Paul probably still has a polaroid of a bike John built for Gheorghe Muresan. That was pretty freaky.

    I'll be in the area in June...and will be inviting myself over to check out the shop and say hi.
    He just got back in the game after a hiatus. He brought photos of Muresan, himself, and the frame, freaky indeed.

    My door's always open...
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Quote Originally Posted by Freddy View Post
    Let's see if this is on topic.
    The Tommy I know is dedicated and hard working.
    He supports his friends and is the best friend anyone could have.
    Tireless hours and shakes off the toil of the day with no loss of focus.
    Tommy is a true person of trust.
    Thanks for the kind words Freddy... I try.
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    tommy
    yr also a repair shop.
    what % of biz is repair vs frame building?
     

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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Tommy, serious question. Soft burrito or taco shell?

    HEY!!! Talk more about your craft. I'm dying to hear some about the high and lowlights if you are willing. Speaking for myself I've learned one he!!! of alot more from being taught / shown than failing miserably on my own before mastering various skills. What about you?

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveP View Post
    tommy
    yr also a repair shop.
    what % of biz is repair vs frame building?
    Steve,

    The retail/repair side of our business is the money maker for sure. As I said I spend about 70% of my time helping customers and doing repairs. We've had a few more full timers come on board so the percentages are starting to slide in the right direction. It is a real challenge though maintaining that balance. I think mainly because the floods and droughts nature of the shop. Nothing is more frustrating than fluxing up a joint, turning on the torch, and then having the sales floor get super busy. I think getting that front triangle mitered (as seen in FNL) was one of my more productive "non frame-only" days.

    It was my intention from the beginning to start slow and work up to going full time building frames. Being part of the shop has made it possible to keep that slow pace, but still make money and be a profitable portion of our business. That being said we make way more money every selling hybrids than we do with frame work, but we still make money.

    I hope that answers the question...
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    Quote Originally Posted by Too Tall View Post
    Tommy, serious question. Soft burrito or taco shell?

    HEY!!! Talk more about your craft. I'm dying to hear some about the high and lowlights if you are willing. Speaking for myself I've learned one he!!! of alot more from being taught / shown than failing miserably on my own before mastering various skills. What about you?
    Can't it be both? But for serious I do prefer a small corn tortilla, preferably hecho a mano con lard.

    For me the craft is full of highs and lows at this stage, it can be quite manic at times. The first time a wheel slid right into the drops with no coldsetting, man I think I got chills. Realizing I drew my full scale drawing based on the wrong HT angle after completing the front triangle, I think I yelled and threw something. But each time the process gets easier, more of those "aha moments" we keep hearing about happen, and I get faster.

    One thing that college taught me was to not be overly precious with my work, which carries over nicely to framebuilding. I.E. if you mess something up, doesn't matter if you spent all day doing it, doesn't matter if you have to wait a week for another part now, you just toss it in the bin and chalk it up to experience. For some it's hard to do, but in the end you get more bench time and the product will be better. Period.

    On the taught vs. self taught thing. Personally I like watching something happen real time in front of me when I'm learning. But you also have to work it to your advantage, asking your instructor questions, making them watch you try is all part of it. That being said you will teach yourself more about your working methods by plain old toil, to steal Dazza's phraseology.

    I'm going back to UBI this winter with another worker from the shop to take the Ti course. There's no reason we couldn't learn to work Ti here, we have the technology, but hey why not learn it from Jim Kish or Mike DeSalvo in top notch facilities if we can? Plus we can write it off on our taxes as job training. Win win imho.

    Cheers,
    Baltimore Bicycle Works

    FLICKR

    Natty Boh and Lonestar Enthusiast

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Nash Cycles - Baltimore Bicycle Works

    tks
    ps
    i like the may 1 workers day event.

    yr operation reminds me a little of the broadway bicycle school in cambridge...which has been there a loooong time and has some great enthusiasts in the shop.

    hope the season goes great... and all yr rear triangles come out " on the money.."
     

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