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Thread: Villin Cycles

  1. #1
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    Default Villin Cycles

    Thank you VS for giving me the opportunity to contribute.

    Hey Yíall, Alexis Dold here. I own Villin Cycle Works and live in Gainesville Florida (hence the Vill in Villin) I built my first frame in February of 2001.

    Here is a little list of things you may or may not know about me -

    I love and live for my wife Robin and my two daughters Ava 6yrs and Beatrix 4yrs.
    I am the VP of the PTA at my oldest daughtersí school.
    I do the dishes and the laundry at my house. All of them every day.
    Iím an Ice Beer drinkin,
    Bow huntin,
    Prius drivin,
    Red neck.
    My auto biography will be titled Alcohol and Power Tools.
    Iíve seen Sasquach.
    Iíll sleep on the floor and never complain about it.
    I once produced anti matter after a long night of doing fun stuff.
    OK maybe a few times.
    Iím an awful typist and an even worse speller.
    I have trouble being my self but seem to be getting better at it with age..
    And around my small group of close friends, Iím usually completely full of shit. In the most deliberate and irreverent sense possible.

    My friends and our rides -

    When I was a kid my friends and I would ride from Port Orange to Ormond Beach on our BMX bikes to hang at a music store. We hit all the grocery stores on the way for free samples. We also packed old sk8 decks we modified with foot straps and the wheels removed. Ya see, there were these two huge piles of dirt in Ormond that were the result of dredge projects. The dredging dug rite into the water table that was only four feet or so below the surface and rite next to the piles. Instructions for afternoon fun; Climb hill, dawn board tail up front, stand up, lean forward, tumble down hill several times until you got the hang of sliding. I canít remember feeling water more refreshing than the first few splash downs. Most of my close buddies have been riding BMX since they were kids like me and throw a leg over for work, groceries, and what ever else they can find an excuse for. I get to hang with them on Tuesday and Thursday nights. We have an ongoing night time trail ride that started in 97. The local trail system in Gainesville was still in its infancy clocking in at around 30 miles back then. Today, including the West side of town there are well over 150 miles and counting of frequently used mostly illegal, heavily wooded single track. Most of our rides are 2ish hours and end up at a pub for the usual liquids, rib poking, and good tipping but twice a year we get to ride all day. #1 The tour De Gainesville, Held on the east side of town, no entry fee, 100k last year, 72 riders. This year will be the tenth year in a row and it keeps getting bigger. And the Catch 22 held on the west side of town, in its fourth year and usually rite around 50 mi. Oh and there is also the Tour De Falasco, look it up. I used to ride all day every day. What happened? Oh yeah, adulthood.

    Work 'n stuff -

    By the time I was 28 I still had worked more jobs than I was years old. Steve Garro may be my only competition in this area (love the way you write Steve). My parentsí divorced when I was 10 and I started working shortly after that. Iv been a paper boy, buss boy, grocery bagger, line cook, Ocean Life guard, Iv worked at the Gap, Burdines, the YMCA and was a Physical therapist assistant and aquatics director at north Florida regional rehab and specialty care center. This was a cool job. I assisted with aggressive wound care. And designed and implemented patient specific aquatic rehab programs for stroke victims, knee and hip replacement patients and patients with debilitating genetic disorders among other things. I was fascinated by it. Iíve worked at a movie theater and a cannery in Keni Alaska, was a professional and regionally successful DJ from 96-2000 and still moon lite as a DJ on growradio.org with an all vinyl show I call The Selector. I lived in San Francisco from 98-2000 and worked at a hardware store called Fredricksons, I am a wood worker, and Iíve worked on bikes in tons of shops for ever. Won my first race when I was 6, purchased a bike shop called Bikes and more that I was managing in 01, started another bike shop called Mr Good Bike in 03, and sold all that to build frames full time in October 2007 among other things.

    Innovation -

    Ever get an idea stuck in your head and think about it so much that it starts to affect every thing you do and even partially paralyzes you (mentally) Well, I never do that. Yeah rite. I have figured out how to get them outa my head though and, in that killing two birds with one stonerish way it has lead to every peace of art and every new frame thing Iv produced. I just make what is gumming up the works, real. Then when I see it in front of me it leaves my mind. Forever. Total freedom. Well not exactly, something else always finds its way into the free space again but its nice for a while. Currently and if youíve been around the salon for long enough youíll know Iv been learning how to forge my own steel for bike parts with the intention of making my own Forge welded (wood grain looking steel) lugs. To say its taken longer than I thought would be a gross under statement but Im getting there. On the way I was introduced to a jewelry making technique referred to as Mokume Gane. Itís Japanese for wood grain. Long story short, different process similar results only with non ferric material. No rust =no clear coat over the wood grain = texture and depth that you cannot only see but feel. That in combination with a pre braised joint = form and function and an empty brain. Yesterday I was one for three lugs and becoming more comfortable with the material every day. Innovate or die rite.

    Retirement -

    I canít imagine it. Retirement is for people that want to do something other than what there doing now. Though I do have my days, I think iv found what I want to die doing and feel lucky to wake up every morning knowing that.

    At the moment -

    I no longer take custom requests from my customers relative to geometry or aesthetics. A little while ago I realized that I know allot more about bikes than even most experienced riders. That doesnít mean I turn a deaf ear by any means, in fact I listen more closely now than ever. It just means Iím supremely confidant in my ability to interpret the info they give me when we begin our dialog and use that info to make the best world class bike I can. Which aint so bad. My only concern about this whole thing is that to keep my wait times any wear near reasonable Iíve had to price myself way out of many of the people that I would like to see on my bikes range and I donít know what to do about it. Building more bikes is no longer an option that I entertain and bringing it another partner is also out of the question now. I guess it will work its self out like it always dose. For now Ill just have to be content having never felt more passionate about anything! And knowing that although pollution makes the sunset pink itís beautiful anyway.

    Alexis Dold-

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Hi Alexis,

    Interesting story I enjoyed reading.

    I had a look at your site and I love what you do with "lugs". The one I like best is the wire-lashed bike. What is holding that together? I don't see a fillet and the wire appears too weak.
    Cheers
    Kevin

    PolyTube Cycles

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Alexis:

    Welcome! Man, your life has been a lot more exciting than mine. All over the place. I'm glad that you have decided to "settle down."

    You mention that you no longer are willing to take geometry requests from clients. Was there a particular disaster that brought you to that decision? Or did you just arrive at a point where you realized that you could do better than your customers in designing their frame?

    Congrats on getting smoked!
    Tom Kellogg
    Rides bikes, makes 'em too.
    Spectrum-Cycles.com
    Butted Ti Road, Reynolds UL, Di2, QuarQ, Conour lite, SP Zero
    Steel Cross, X-7, Crank Bros, Concour Lite, Nemesis, Grifo
    Steel Piste, D-A Piste, PD-7400, Concour lite, Zipp 404
    http://kapelmuurindependent.be


    Shortest TFC Member (5'6 3/4") & shrinking

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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Hey Alexis,

    That is some bling stuff you're doing. Do you have a background in jewelry work as well somewhere along the way? How did you pick up frame building? What's the story there?

    Really love the mustard yellow bike on your site. Can we get a full on pic of the bike?
     

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Yo Lex,

    I'm going to make the TdG...who knows, maybe this year! Glad to see you on the S/O. YOU can put down some prose brother man. I invite everyone to dig out their NAHBS program and read Lex's "bio blurb" in the directory of exhibitors (if you already read them all, then you'll remember it). Congrats on a fast exit from Richmond too. I walked by your "space" about 5:10 Sunday and nothing but a pile of splinters remained.

    I need to go peruse your online info. But now back to the generator what's been confounding my entire morning--now day.

    Cheers and Beers






  6. #6
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Thanks Kevin, Good question
    Thats the only one of those around. The Portland NAHBS was coming up and I finally felt confident enough in what I was doing (and had the money because business was getting better and better) to subject my wears to the spot light. So that bike was born.
    I knew that the copper wire wouldn't be strong enough on its own to support the structure. I also don't trust silver to adequately bond a main frame joint together without some kind of gusset or lug. From what I understand about how silver works and Im sure ill be corrected if Im wrong, is that silver can fill a space optimally around .3mm when its in a liquid state then cool down and shrink into a solid beautifully. However, When that space becomes larger than.3mm silver has an issue. While cooling and shrinking to a solid state, Silver unlike brass is not strong enough to pull a clump of its self down to the weld surface without creating micro fractures. So I decided to weld the frame twice. First with brass then using silver to attach the copper wire.

    Your correct about the fillet being small. When your braising a couple of tubes together, you can add quite a bit of brass to the joint but keep it outa site by sweating it kind of like you would a lug, This gets the brass to move to the inside of the joint. If you do it rite the joint is just as strong as if the brass was on the outside.
    After I had completed the braising I tacked one end of the wire to the frame and slowly copied a wrap pattern that I had been practicing with twine on an old road frame one joint after another.
    That whole process seamed almost easy compared to doing the paint. Dont tell any one but that was my third frame paint job. I almost quit painting after that one.
    Ya know, I still own that bike and ride it to lunch three or four times a week. Up and down side walks. I weigh about 200lbs and no issues yet.
    Lex-
    Quote Originally Posted by datas_brother View Post
    Hi Alexis,

    Interesting story I enjoyed reading.

    I had a look at your site and I love what you do with "lugs". The one I like best is the wire-lashed bike. What is holding that together? I don't see a fillet and the wire appears too weak.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Thanks Tom,
    Yeah I was all over the place for a while there. My wife Robin relay helped me calm down and focus. Were expecting a new baby in april BTW.

    With respect to to the geometry requests. Its a little bit of both. In 06 I let a costumer talk me into building him a 26"Single speed with a lugged BB. Normally I use a 73mm non lug shell to help increase tire clearance and snug up the CS to 15.75". There ended up being tire clearance issues with the lugged frame and I ended up modifying the frame and re powder coating it. A mistake I didn't want to make twice.
    Mostly though, Iv just gotten more and more comfortable and confident in my designs as the years go by. All that trial and error affected me i guess. I am happiest when I finish a bike with no compromises so I guess its also a sort of self preservation sort of therapy too. But mostly its the experience that I have been fortunate enough to have acquired. Im also thank full that the majority of my customers are very thoughtful and understanding when I have to explain why I no longer change the geometric perimeters by request.

    Lex-





    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Kellogg View Post
    Alexis:

    Welcome! Man, your life has been a lot more exciting than mine. All over the place. I'm glad that you have decided to "settle down."

    You mention that you no longer are willing to take geometry requests from clients. Was there a particular disaster that brought you to that decision? Or did you just arrive at a point where you realized that you could do better than your customers in designing their frame?

    Congrats on getting smoked!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    The story.
    When I was a kid I the thing I can remember wanting most was a real road bike. My parents did great with what we had but spending 800 in the 1980s on a bike was not a possibility so I put it out of my mind. FF to 1990. It was my senior year in High school. I worked as a bag boy at Publix and saved up enough to buy a Trek 1200. I lived just south of Daytona, in a town called Port Orange. I had met a girl Named Terry earlier that year at the beach where my friends and I surfed allot. She lived in Palm coast. about 63mi from my house. I had killed my 300$ pontiac sky hawk fastback with removable hatch (thanks to the hinges rusting out) about two months earlier and had resorted to ridding my beach cruiser up the beach to see her once a week or so. Her parents would feed me and let me spend the night then send me on my way the next day. Fu#k was that hard. Hence the Trek. I could hardly believe how much easier ridding the road bike was than the beach cruiser. I started doing it more often. Two times a week three times then there and back in the same day for a little fun. I didn't know which one I liked more. Who cared though. I had both bike and girl. I was a happy man. Then summer ended we broke up and I traded in the road bike for a Cannondale m800 and started racing with my buddies Tom and Matt. I won every race I entered. No shit, every one. I even got a flat at the end of the first season and still won.
    at the same time I was mulling over my academic opportunities which were pretty much limited to the community college in Daytona. There was a welding program I decided to enroll in with the hopes of getting a job building bikes at a factory like cannondale but for many reasons that just didn't work out. I settled for a string of bike shop jobs instead. From 1991 all the way till 2000 when I moved back to Gainesville from a two year stint in San Francisco. I got a job managing a shop and went about finding a frame jig and a torch. When i found them I moved them into an old ass shed that I shared with my Buddy Matt. I cut up an old road master and made a sad attempt at mitering then tried to braise them together with no flux.
    No flux! Thats how little I knew about building frames. Six months later Shalome asked me if I wanted to buy Bikes and more from him. I accepted he financed it and all the while I kept building. First I made a mountain bike with bad geometry. Don't get me wrong. I knew what good geometry was but I didn't know how to translate my draft into a finished frame in the jig. I didn't know the reference points, fork length, rake, trail, bb drop, toe overlap, boiling flux off, ALL that stuff. But I learned O built another MTB this time the geometry worked but the break posts didn't. A few more small jigs and a lota help from Hank Folsom (Henery James lugs) things started to fall into place. the bikes worked better they looked better and I kept learning more. Refining geometry refining esthetics and listening to the metal when I welded. The next year because of the terrain my friends and I road on I started making Single speed trail bikes with ridged forks and lots of clearance for big soft tires. I bent tubes, then used strait ones in steed. I started to make lugged track bikes and sold them at Track Star in Manhattan and tried my hand at carving up a Pacenti artesian lug set. It turned out ok but every tom dick and herry with a jig and a dremmel was doing it too. I wanted to make something that no one had ever tried before. it was the summer of 07 and I had just cut a check to Don Walker for my first booth at NAHBS, in Portland no less, I was so excited that there are no words that can do the feeling any justice at all.
    That summer I made my first set of hammered and polished stainless lugs. I made my first copper wire wrapped frame, and I painted my first frames.
    Since then I have learned black smiting folded steels together and noe copper and nickel for many uses.
    In the beginning having no one to learn from was probably the biggest handicap i could have asked for but as time went on the energy and time I had to learn to harness in order to make sense of those first few frames never went away. It has pushed me to try things that I would never have imagined were possible before. And i am humbled by the thought of it as I type these words.
    But thats all in the past. The real question is where will the future take me?

    Lex

    Quote Originally Posted by roguedog View Post
    Hey Alexis,

    That is some bling stuff you're doing. Do you have a background in jewelry work as well somewhere along the way? How did you pick up frame building? What's the story there?

    Really love the mustard yellow bike on your site. Can we get a full on pic of the bike?

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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by WadePatton View Post
    Yo Lex,

    I'm going to make the TdG...who knows, maybe this year! Glad to see you on the S/O. YOU can put down some prose brother man. I invite everyone to dig out their NAHBS program and read Lex's "bio blurb" in the directory of exhibitors (if you already read them all, then you'll remember it). Congrats on a fast exit from Richmond too. I walked by your "space" about 5:10 Sunday and nothing but a pile of splinters remained.

    I need to go peruse your online info. But now back to the generator what's been confounding my entire morning--now day.

    Cheers and Beers
    Wade!
    Good to hear from you man,
    Yeah we were outa there quick. We ended up walking to a great little diner like a thousand miles away called 868 or something. I got a 1lb cheese burger with extra bacon and killed it in ten minutes. I felt like I hadn't had the chance to eat for three days, weird. Iv been following your blog on FB and cant stop laughin, Im sorry man I know it must suck but your posts are pure comedy. get a hammer and start banging on that thing man hahahahaa.
    Im not gonna hold you to the TDG this year. Im hoping a little reverse psychology might do the trick.
    Good luck with the power Wade. Im gona go have a cold one for you rite now.........

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Hey Everyone,

    I just wanted to say thank you for being patient earlier with my slow responses. Im doing my best to reply in a timely fashion but will be slow due to my work load and domestic responsibilities My lovely wife and I are expecting out third child, Ill leave it at that.

    Cheers,
    Lex

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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by lex View Post
    Hey Everyone,

    I just wanted to say thank you for being patient earlier with my slow responses. Im doing my best to reply in a timely fashion but will be slow due to my work load and domestic responsibilities My lovely wife and I are expecting out third child, Ill leave it at that.

    Cheers,
    Lex


    awesome news, lex atmo.
    ps these threads are here forever so deal with replies when you can.
    xxoo -

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    alota respect for ya lex --- next time in gatorville --- down/up to satchel's for pizza, satch salad with the 1 walnut for luck and a pint of red stripe --- with ya..

    ronnie
     

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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Lex,

    Good to see you here, and learned so much more about you than we could cover during the show. Glad to see you are busy too, and congrats about the upcoming baby. Good call on drawing the line. How do you balance work and your growing family?

    Cheers,
    Renold Yip
    YiPsan Bicycles

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by lex View Post
    Hey Everyone,

    I just wanted to say thank you for being patient earlier with my slow responses. Im doing my best to reply in a timely fashion but will be slow due to my work load and domestic responsibilities My lovely wife and I are expecting out third child, Ill leave it at that.

    Cheers,
    Lex
    Hi Lex,

    First, congratulations to you and your wife on the coming baby. I have three as well and it's allot of stress but it's more than worth it.

    Thanks for the detailed explanation of the lashed bike. I love seeing out of the box thinking put into working action.
    Cheers
    Kevin

    PolyTube Cycles

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Thanks Richie,
    I appreatiate the leeway.
    I just handed off a ride I finished last night to my friend Montana a few minuits ago.
    I tryed to attach some immages here from my hard drive. If for some reason They dont take Ill pm you real quick for instructions
    Cheers,
    Lex
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by lex; 09-24-2010 at 11:39 AM. Reason: adding attachments

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by ron l edmiston View Post
    alota respect for ya lex --- next time in gatorville --- down/up to satchel's for pizza, satch salad with the 1 walnut for luck and a pint of red stripe --- with ya..

    ronnie
    Thanks Ron,
    You know I hit Satchels every time I get a chance. Just holler at me before you roll into town and its on.
    BTW, they are carrying the new local breweries IPA now (Swamp Head) good stuff. First rounds on me.
    Lex

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by YiPsan View Post
    Lex,

    Good to see you here, and learned so much more about you than we could cover during the show. Glad to see you are busy too, and congrats about the upcoming baby. Good call on drawing the line. How do you balance work and your growing family?

    Cheers,
    Hey Renold,

    its good to hear from you too. Hopefully we get to finish a conversation before your celebrity status hogs up all of your time. Im relay happy for you BTW with your success. You deserve it, You've worked extremely hard and overcome some very difficult challenges and it looks to be paying off nicely. Congratulations!
    The line drawing was a slow progression and has made me a happier man for sure. I think if I had tried to just cut off my customers cold turkey it may not have been such a good decision but taking the last three years to ease into it has made the transition relatively smooth.
    The balancing act;
    Thats a good question.
    I don't think there are any silver bullets, like every one we have good and bad days but I think keeping your sense of humor and practicing Good communication have been our strong suits. Also, I try to keep my ridding schedule in tact. The reward of a good ride goes a long way.

    Cheers
    Lex-

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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Lex,

    What are your thoughts on the FL market? Do think think it's a tough place to generate orders from or easy? Is it an advantage that there are only a small handful of is in the state?

    Jonathan

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan View Post
    Lex,

    What are your thoughts on the FL market? Do think think it's a tough place to generate orders from or easy? Is it an advantage that there are only a small handful of is in the state?

    Jonathan
    Hey Jonathan,

    I wont even hesitate on that one. Yes! I do think its a tough place. It definitely helps that there are only a few of us here but I think that low number is indicative of just how barren the southeastern market can be. Lots of culdesacs, congested roads, and a minor lack of respect for cyclists by the general population contribute to the toughness, but, ya know, The toughest most barren placeless on earth are known fro producing some of the most unique and beautiful flowers too.

    To me Florida is like a giant protracted weed out corse for builders and enthusiasts alike. For enthusiasts, almost getting hit on a daily basis can be hard to deal with. With respect to builders, I don't know about you but I had to have two and three jobs for the first six years of my building career just to get by. Orders can be few and far between. Being persistent and believing in yourself become very important.
    I came up with a short list of things that I have observed that can help a builder get by in the south east. I hope you wont mind elaborating a bit too.

    Internet suaveness; You, Sir, could write a book on that subject. Just being out there and available is huge but being able to coordinate with many sites and know when to market and when to just be will help any builder use the web to its fullest. My buddy Al is the web head web designer for UF and just told me about a blog yesterday that will automatically post your text, images, videos, to several sites at once its blog.posterous.com/ I plan on spending some time there today.

    Attending shows; Not just NAHBS but smaller film fests, races, and fun stuff. As much free stuff as your time will allow and will make the best of your budget.

    Knowing your market or niche and having a plan for expanding it if you want and developing your new products in the open for a little while before making them available to the GP.

    Press releases; I suck at this part but Jeff and Brad at Urban velo are helping me learn how to do it rite.

    Publishing the occasional article

    Innovation; The ones that can innovate will survive.

    What about you?

    Lex-

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    Default Re: Villin Cycles

    Yo, congrats on the new one.

    Now, I was wondering if you'd discuss your metal working with an overview of your interest in the layered metals and the path you took to learn and employ it into some of your frames. As I told you when we first met, I had been pursuing sources for decorative layered metals, never thought to make my own. As usual, my cart sticks way out in front of the horse. (rear hoof drive).






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