what are your (and garrett's) points of view on the frame show thing?
nahbs is obviously the progenitor and continues to 1) grow, and 2) give good value.
is there a strategy to when and where you exhibit?
(sorry if i am rusty on this one, but i recall you were a nahbs guy although you missed version 6.0.).
is there a method to the madness of spending less elsewhere when the exposure is also exponentially less?
Conor, thanks for the interesting discussion. It's great learning about you. At this point, do you have limits on what you will build? In other words, when a customer approaches you is it an open book as far as lug style, wheels, racks, stainless, etc. What won't you build, or do you accept any challenge that's put out there? Besides that Herky guy that's your enemy.
That's an interesting question. Generally speaking I think what draws folks to our stuff is the same that would draw other folks to other stuff. Maybe that doesnít really make very much sense but Iíve observed that people that our interested in our bikes seem to have shared interests with either Garrett or myself. Just as Iím sure your bikes and designs are a expression of what you like to do our bikes are reflections of what we like. Initially people see a bike or a frame and it creates some sort of response. Perhaps they see a bike in person at a show like NAHBS or SDCBS or they see a picture on-line. In most cases I would say that the initial exposure is visual. They could see a carved lug that they like or an entire bike that invokes that original reaction. I think our look - what Garrett and I call our Hot Rod Aesthetic is distinctive and very much part of Vendetta or "VendettanessĒ as you put it.
Thinking about its evolution it was something that evolved naturally almost unconsciously as we started out. My original intention and still an underlying theme is that a bike should ďpopĒ Ė the same word used by Rich Ė and that the bike should look like and integrated, finished piece. This idea carries through not just paint colors but to lugs, seatstay attachements, brake bridges and all the other decisions one makes while fabricating a bicycle.
Thanks for the question and I hope you and your family is doing well.
As you know Iím on record here and elsewhere that NAHBS is a great thing. Additionally Iíve stated that NAHBS is NAHBS regardless of where it is located and that I have no jingoistic tendencies related as to where NAHBS is held. Itís the Super Bowl and everyone gets very excited when the Super Bowl comes to town.
Our show strategy is very simple. If we can drive there somewhat reasonably then weíll try and attend. Shows are expensive and time consuming and can put a strain on a small business. Since we donít build show bikes we have to borrow customerís bikes for shows and then return them. The logistics of having to ship customerís bikes adds unnecessary risk for us and we therefore choose to avoid it, so we try to attend shows that we can reach by driving.
We definitely like a challenge and will talk to anyone that has an interesting idea. Our two criteria are it must be lugged and it must be steel. We recently had a person ask us about a tricycle. I haven't heard back from them though.
We currently have a very interesting project at the painters. It will feature custom carved lugs, disc brakes, integrated lights, a Rohloff rear hub, a custom stainless, rack, a custom stainless chainguard and other amenities. It should be cool. I'm hoping the painter doesn't want to kill us during the process.
p.s. You have to watch Herky. He's a shifty one.
Thanks for the welcome. I’m not the most prolific writer but I have been around here longer than it may appear. I’ve been more active in other forums.
Thanks also for the answer. I know there are a number of part-timers here and in fact I just started down that path myself, which is why I am interested.
If I read right, you and Garrett both entered framebuilding through the side door. My background is quality assurance and as such I’m a proponent of testing. I’m having everything I’ve developed independently verified before I open the front door. How did you decide what you were doing was good enough to go public?
Welcome and thanks for the question.
With lugged bikes you have several considerations when looking at the quality of a joint. You can start by accessing the joint by the amount of surface area within the joint and penetration of filler material (silver, brass) through the joint. This is fairly easy to get at by cutting open the joint post brazing and doing a visual inspection. Now this won't tell you if you've severely overheated the material and damaged the grain structure of the metal. The newer steel alloys are much less susceptible to overheating in that they've been designed around TIG welding as the main joining method, but it's still possible. (As a quick aside the newer alloys have grain refiners like Si, Nb, and even Ti in them which is a long way from the original 4130 chrome-moly steels.) One way to determine this is to cut and mount cross-sectional samples of heated and non-heated areas and take metallurgical photomicrographs of the structure looking for signs of gross contamination and overheating. Knowledge of the Fe-C phase diagram is always helpful for this operation. Another way to appraise joint strength is to perform destructive testing on the joint and compare against known samples.
TIG welding will be slightly different in that welding is concerned primarily with penetration of the weld and the process produces a more pronounced heat-affected-zone. If the weld has either undercut or poor penetration, the resulting joint is significantly weakened. Still the underlying principles for evaluation are similar.
Before we built our first frame we did several tests of creating brazed, lugged joints and then either cutting them up to ensure proper silver flow or systematically breaking them to determine relative strength axially through the joint.
Compared to TIG welding a silver-brazed, lugged joint has no chance for undercut and creates no heat affected zone because the joining temperatures are lower. In addition, the load is spread across a larger area in a reinforced area of the joint.
I would recommend rather than paying for expensive third-party testing to perform you're own testing. You'll learn a lot more in the process and it's fun to try really, really hard to break something. I remember Steve Garro posted a video of himself trying to break a fillet brazed stem. It was a lot of work and easily demonstrated the strength of his stem joint. How/when we decided to go public is going to be different for us than for you and the more you learn about your process and how the materials interact the sooner you'll understand when you're ready to “go public.”
Can you tell me how you guys set up your work schedule? Do you work in the evenings or on weekends? Do you ever want to take a long lunch and do some building? I ask because I admire the ability to do this - I would suck at it.
Kirk Frameworks Co.
Our standard working schedule is one night a week for usually 2 to 3 hours and one day a weekend for approximately 6-7 hours. So Garrett and I are usually working on building frames a total of 16-20 hours a week at any given time. If we have a "crunch time" situation we'll work two nights a week but that's been rare.
I contribute additional time in answering email, ordering parts and other business related activities and that varies from week to week.
As a proud owner of a beautiful Vendetta bicycle, let me chime in as to how and why I chose Conor and Garrett to build a custom single speed/fixie for me.
I met Conor and Garrett at the NAHBS show in San Jose a few years ago. I was referred to them by Dave Thompson, a buddy from the Serotta Forum. On display in their booth in San Jose was, among others, Conor's beautiful black track bike with polished lugs. As anyone who has met them can attest, they are both very personable and friendly. We talked for a while and I liked the idea that Conor was an experienced cyclist with knowledge of metallurgy and Garrett was an engineer. At that time, I had ordered custom bikes from other builders with lengthy waiting lists and, in contrast, Vendetta had a very short waiting list, if any. I felt comfortable and confident with them as competent and qualified builders, even if they had only made a few bikes. I decided to order a bike from them. Conor and I walked over to Richard Sachs's booth to select lugs and we discussed tube choices.
Working with Conor during the design and build was great. We further discussed tube choices, polishing the lugs, paint color and the selection of components. There were lots of email communication and updates with photos. I was kept well apprised of the entire process.
In summary, it was a pleasure working with Conor and Garrett and I have recommended them to other potential buyers. I allowed them to display my bike at the Indianapolis NAHBS.
The end result: Vendetta Cycles Track/Single-speed Gallery/Who Want's Kandy? (Since the photos were taken, a custom, matching lugged stem has been added.)
Thank you for the special bike, Conor and Garrett.
Thanks so much for the wonderful comments. I especially appreciate that you liked our frequent communication during the build process. It's very important to us to keep our clients "in-the-loop" and we work hard to create a positive experience.
I'll have to update your gallery with a couple of pictures showing your new stem. A lugged stem works really well with a lugged bike and adds to overall package.
As an FYI this picture is featured in the Custom Bicycles, A Passionate Pursuit Book, by Christine Elliot and David Jablonka on page 223. Of course, it's not as big.
I'll send you a copy.
Thanks for taking time to explain more about your frames and your work here at VS. I chatted with you briefly at the NAHBS show in Portland 2 years ago and again at the Oregon Framebuilders show last Fall. I really enjoyed the conversation, and have your site "bookmarked" so I can check for updates in your (well done) gallery.
I just wanted to add, for anyone who hasn't seen the bikes in person, that they really are stunning in person. The level of finish and detail on the bikes is terrific.
A guy can always dream about the next bike...
This is something that came out pretty cool and I just had to share.
We've been making some fillet brazed stems now as a companion to go along with the stainless lugged stems. Hey, some folks like chocolate and others like vanilla.
Anyway Garrett and I were never really excited with the front brake cable routing options and thought it would be nice to do it through the stem. (Sure it's been done before.)
We decided to use some brass tubing and part of an internal cable stop (normally for top tubes/rear brakes) and some presto-chango we came out with this:
Needless to say I'm quite thrilled with result and I really think the customer will be as well.
I definitely see us doing more of this in the future.
I'm also pleased with the camera bokeh on the flowers in the background.
Thanks for checking it out.
p.s. Yes, we ran a cable through it and it all works as planned.
I just thought I would post some stuff up here to prevent this thread from getting too stale.
We're currently finishing up a road frame for a client and I'm quite pleased with how the rear (HJ) dropouts came out.
Originally the dropouts had eyelets on the back and after cutting them off we had to reshape the dropout so that the apex of the outside of the dropout better matched the inside curvature. Then we shaped the side edges to break consistently along the outside of the dropout.
During the filing to better smooth out the surface for polishing I had to be really careful not to file off the small bit of edge along the both surfaces that defined the "face" of the dropout. I had to stop before it was completely (there's a slight impression near the top edge by the seatstay) because if I had continued I would have removed the defining edge. I also wanted to keep as much of the "Henry James, Made in the USA" in the casting as possible.
It's always a matter of managing the trade-offs and of course once you insert the rear wheel it doesn't matter anyway.
Last edited by conorb; 09-14-2010 at 11:29 PM.
Getting here quite late and trying to catch up. I've always felt in a similar situation to you in building part time but one big difference seems that you have more remote customers and I'm more comfortable with locals.
How do you go about things like fitting or other options you offer on Vendettas? What do you do if someone isn't completely comfortable on their current rides?