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Thread: Progetto Cycles

  1. #1
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    Default Progetto Cycles

    I'm a 45 year old male, married ( 25 years ) with 3 kids, lived in the same place all my life ( Australian North Coast ) and been riding bikes as long as I can remember. Some people have lots of hobbies, I struggle to find the time for one but it has always involved two wheels. When I was twelve I chopped the rear end off my bike and fitted a linkage shock a' la Kawasaki uni track because I thought it would be cool, that's the sort of shit i've been doing all my life.

    I can't remember where the urge to race came from but my dad had some photo's of himself when he was younger, posed with these great looking 3 speed derailleur geared bikes they used to race on dirt oval tracks, probably came from there. I was about 13 when I got my first full size wheeled bike and rode it everywhere. We lived about 50 km from the nearest cycle club but my mum was willing to drive me there on Saturday's so I could race. Sometimes I would ride there instead but we have winter road seasons here in Oz, so it was always a struggle to make it home before dark, and besides, I was only a little tacker.

    I always loved doing things with my hands, wasn't much of an academic and was destined to be a hands on kind of guy. Started my plumbing apprenticeship at 16 years old doing cottage work, laying drains and silver soldering copper water pipes day in day out, I really enjoyed my job. I was always playing with the oxy after work doing foreign orders, so it was a natural progression to want to build my own bicycle frame. Information about anything cycling was hard to come by in Oz at that time, especially when you lived in a one horse town. My lifeline was international cycling sport magazine that my local newsagent would source for me as a special order. During the tour I would get up for the 6am radio news hoping for a soundbite about how Phil Anderson was doing against that Badger prick.

    About 1984 I bought my first 531 tube set from British International Trading ( Oz importers ) and set about constructing my first lugged frameset. I had this book I got from somewhere called " Bicycle Frames" which featured some English and US builders including Tom Kellogg if I remember correctly, I used this book for inspiration. Can't really remember how that frame went but it must have worked OK as I rode it for a few years after. I built a couple of frames a year for mates after that for the next few years but then stopped riding when I discovered girls and Motorbikes.

    Fast forward a few years when I was 25 and I decided to start riding and racing again. Steel was losing it's fan base and aluminum was becoming the norm. I stumbled upon a guy named Peter Teschner who was offering hand built Columbus alloy frames. He lived about 2 hours drive away so one day I jumped in the car and paid him a visit, I came home with a few Altec tube sets even though I knew nothing about aluminum. I had a chat to an engineer friend of mine that welded alloy, he gave me a few lessons and I was away again. Along the way I have actually forged a friendship and working relationship with Peter and did some contract work for him including frames for the Australian Institute of Sport with some taking commonwealth and world champ medals. This is something that I was proud to be associated with but also fully aware that the riders would have won medals no matter what they were riding.

    I am now building tube to tube carbon, have done around 20 frames with positive results over the past 3 years. I traded in my plumbing tools and opened a retail bike shop about 5 years ago. As you can see, the bike has been at the forefront of my passions for a long time and doesn't look like letting go anytime soon. Thanks for listening and thanks to all those who share their knowledge to others along the way.

    Regards
    Bill Fernance
     

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Bill that is one of the most blood and guts stories I've read yet. I'd love to see a pic of your first bike mod. Sounds like you beat Rocky Mountain to the punch by several years. Q: What made you jump from steel to carbon? Thanks -Chris
    Last edited by Dornbox; 11-08-2010 at 10:48 PM. Reason: Spelling!

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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Thanks for being "smoked out". So, what is the origin of the Progetto name?
     

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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Great story! You make the transition between materials sound easy. Was it for you?

    Cheers,

    Rick

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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Hi Chris,
    My progression from one type of material to the next over the years was probably originally driven to produce a lighter product.I guess with time you do realize that there are so many more important things than the weight of a frame and fork. Every time I pin on a race number and get my arse kicked by an older dude on his old faithfull, it always brings home the fact that the bike is just a tool, so long as it fits properly and gets you to the finish line, it's the motor that makes the biggest difference. I am not a full time builder, I do it more for the challenge and enjoyment. I do build for profit when doing clients bikes but can take it or leave it.
    The name Progetto comes from wanting an Italian sounding theme. In Italian (and i'm sure that someone who actually speaks the language will probably tell me I may well be wrong) Progetto is "to have a plan" or "project", that's the basis of a lot of my down time thinking, dreaming up my next move in this learning process.
    As with building in multiple materials, the building process is basically the same, with difference being in the joining methods. With every transition there is usually a fairly steep learning curve then a continual learning process as you go along. I probably did the most groundwork with learning new techniques before I even put hacksaw to tube, the more brains you can suck the better, knowledge isn't a heavy burden to carry.
    I enjoy having the ability being able to be able to work in steel, aluminium and carbon. I have some titanium tubes sitting in the corner waiting for some free time, i feel the challenge calling.
    Bill
     

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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Bill,

    Congratulations and thank you for being smoked out!!

    You mentioned that the process for building your frames is the same - indifferent to the type of material being used. How do you go about testing the various materials? Do you go with the overbuild it, take it for a ride, then work back into a lighter frame; or do you have a particular testing method that is used across all materials?

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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Thanks Kevin,
    With readily available tubesets for steel, aluminium and titanium, I think most of the testing is basically done for you. If you build something that the tubeset hasn't been designed for you are bound to run into trouble. With the three metals is has all been done before so if you stick to the traditional joining methods it is much easier to stay out of trouble. Aluminium is slightly different as it needs to be post weld heat treated. With those early Columbus tubesets they were 5000 series which artificially aged so no need to post weld heat treat, but if you got a few hard seasons of racing out ot them before something broke you were going OK. They were pretty aweful as the bottom brackets would be pre threaded, they would distort during welding and the thread was never the same again after chasing, leaving a looser than ideal bottom bracket thread. The seat tube was also to spec with a fairly thin wall and would generally generally leave you with a sloppy seatpost. The tube ends in my mind where also a bit thin, they were designed much like ther steel tubes and thicker butt ends make for a better joint in aluminium. I very quickly started using Easton tubing as it was as good at everything as Columbus was bad. Nice thick short butt ends, sized to ream, chase and face post weld, huge variety of tubes available for every application. Made of 7000 series it needs to be post weld heat treated but is a fairly simple process unlike 6000 series alloys that require a much more in depth treatment. I love working with Aluminium as it is very easy to work with and can make a beautifull riding frame with the right tube selection.
    Carbon has been a different kettle of fish all around. It is probably getting easier now that Dedaccia, Columbus, Enve make dedicated tubing for bikes as it takes a lot of that design factor out of the product again. I get my tubing made by a New Zealend company that have 30 years experience making fishing rods, yacht masts and spars. I spec the diameters and stiffness characteristics needed but generally the tubing doesn't change a lot from frame to frame more the joint shedule. I do generally use smaller diameter on small frames though. I've done bench testing on joining methods to confirm my thoughts on how to develop a safe well constructed joint. It always make sense to err on the side of caution as you never know how these things get treated, I see some crazy shit come through my shop because people doing thier own wrenching have absolutely no idea.
    All current popular materials used in frame construction make great bikes, but give me a bike that fits before the latest high tech application anyday. Hope this answers your Question.
    Bill
    Last edited by progetto; 11-11-2010 at 05:12 PM. Reason: spellin
     

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Bill,

    Thank you for the response, answered my question. I look forward to seeing more from you.

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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Just wanted to add that what we are doing here isn't rocket science, but it does take skill and proper technique to build a good frameset that will last the test of time with use and abuse day in day out. I've done my fair share of out there stuff and had stuff break and in hindsight say to myself "what the hell was I thinking" but it was usually because of poor design, trying to get tubing to do what it wasn't designed for. There is no substite for time at the table and numbers of bikes out there. It's one thing to have built 3 bikes and say i've never had a failure, build 300 and see if you can say the same thing.
    My biggest frustration is not getting enough time at the table to make every process flow as naturally as I would like, if I was doing it full time though would i have the same enthusiasm for each build? I don't know. I do enjoy veiwing the innovation in the industry, but I do worry about all the small guys dissapearing because of the consumer thirst for the latest and greatest which is driven by big budget and marketing. Picked up a magazine yesterday and was checking out the ads with a few big names claiming next years model to be 100 grams lighter and 40% stiffer ( been claiming the same the last few models ), I wonder when the penny is going to drop with the general consumer. I think the bike industry is probably a bit saturated with too many players at the moment, probably the fact that you can start a bike company without even having any manufacturing skills or in house manufacturing ability is adding to the problem.
    Bill
     

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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Welcome to the club, Bill. Pics or it didn't happen;)
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
    Summoner of Crickets
    http://edozbicycles.wordpress.com/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/edozbicycles/
    In Before the Lock

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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    G'day Bill,

    "My lifeline was international cycling sport magazine that my local newsagent would source for me as a special order."

    Oh, those were the days eh!
    and ICS arrived 3- 5 months after they were printed
    I wish I kept all of mine!
    cheers
    Cheers Dazza
    The rock star is dying. And it's a small tragedy. Rock stars have blogs now. I have no use for that kind of rock star.
    Nick Cave

    www.llewellynbikes.com
    The usual Facebook page
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/llewellyncustombicycles/
    Darrell Llewellyn McCulloch

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Dazza,
    Yeah me too. I boxed them up and had them for about 10 years then did one too many moves and they had to go. At the same place now with Cycle Sport, Procycling and Ride magazines, would be good to see them go to a good home so will stick them in my shop with a " take me " sign. Have just about stopped buying print magazines now as I get my fix electronically.
    Bill
     

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Bill,

    I understand about time at the bench and number of bikes built. I have very little of each - and the learning curve is very steep and extremely long. Thanks for putting yourself out there.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Nice story Bill. Good to see someone else is as bad at self promotion as I am - I've actually never heard of you or Progetto! Oz is a weird place to play bikes in.
    FRAMEBUILDING PARTS FOR SALE!

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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Hi,
    Yes, I like to fly below the radar. I think local consumers think that if you don't have a million dollar R&D department behind you then product quality is somehow inferior or unreliable. The aussie market is a tough nut to crack, I guess it is the same anywhere. I think you would need to go out on a pretty long limb to be a full time builder here, they seem to come and go, you could count full time builders on one hand. It can be done, as someone like Baum has demonstrated, popping up from nowhere ( even though they have been around for a long time now ) with a quality product, sound business model ie charging what product is worth in material, labour, overhead costs + profit. It sounds simple, but too many businesses fail because they think they can run at a loss for the first year or so to get a name for themselves or a foot in the market. I believe our small market is saturated with to many wholesalers and retailers and with less product made locally there's not much between what one company is selling to the next. I'm off on a couple of tangents here talking about small niche products and mass produced in the same sentences but the sentiments apply to both, too much product, not enough buyers.
    I ride with the local group but I sell virtually nothing to them,not even tyres,tubes,chains. It's not because i'm an arsehole or anything, it's all about the dollar. They buy out of England for a cheaper price than I pay wholesale, like I said, the bike industry in Oz is a tough nut to crack.
    Bill
     

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Time for an update, Bill!

    2013_11_18_Progetto.jpg
     

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Melvin,
    The frame has been commissioned by Peter Milostic, multiple Australian champion. It has a very unique geometry and was designed by bike fit guru Steve Hogg. Peter has been running mid foot cleat position for a while so he needs a non standard geometry to suit. I'll give you a few dimensions to boggle your mind:
    Head tube length 105mm
    Effective top tube length 613mm
    Saddle height 700mm
    Front tip of saddle behind BB center line 110mm
    Tip of saddle to bar center line 682mm
    Saddle to bar drop 115mm
    Stem length 130mm -17 deg

    Peter is 178cm tall but must have exceptional flexability, his palmares backs up his choice in position. I don't get much time in the man cave these days but I still punch out a couple every so often. Peter wants two frames with nearly identical set up, one as a race bike and the other to train on, the trainer needs to be able to take the kiddie trailer with him as apparently he does plenty of training miles with the little ones in tow. Who said you can't keep yourself and the wife happy at the same time.
    Bill
     

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    I raced with Pete in my younger and more competetive days. I was even club mates with him. I honestly don't remember such a weird setup. I'm trying to picture the whole thing in my head and it's not working for me. Not saying it's wrong, just out there a bit.
     

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    I know Pete too. Rode with him a bunch. He was got a few of my mates who train with him into the arch cleat thing.

    I'll be interested to see this when its done, likely as it goes up the road. He's fast!
     

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Progetto Cycles

    Mid foot isn't for everyone but like you say, it must work for him, at 39 yo he's still a horse. I know a lot of people think Steve Hogg can be a little out there with his idea's at times but I have a lot of respect for him, he has incredible body knowledge and problem solving skills when it comes to bike fit.
    I'll try and post up a few more shots as it progresses.
     

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