The seat mast situation

This is the second cross bike I’ve built for Adam St. Germain but it’s the fourth Circle A I’ve built for him. He also has one of the few Circle A BMX frames and a pretty fancy road bike. For this one, I wanted to make it as light as possible. I ended up going with Dedacciai’s Zero tube set. Because this is a cross bike and it’s going to be put through the motions, I put a small gusset at the down tube head tube junction. I suggested a seat mast with some unique internal cable routing and Adam let me have my way. So here’s the final product but I unfortunately neglected to think about one thing…

See the full slideshow.

A week or two after he got the bike, at the NBX Grand Prix of Cyclocross right here in Rhode Island on December 4th, the seat mast bent. I was devastated. I totally felt like I let Adam down by building a bike with such a thin seat tube and doing the internal routing at the rear. He sent me a txt with the image and my heart sunk. I had to fix it. NOW.


So Adam dropped the bike off at the shop on the Monday after and I had it back to him at the week’s end for the Ice Weasels race in Wrentham, MA on the 10th. The repair consisted of me carefully straightening the mast and reshaping it with tubing blocks. To strengthen that joint, I bonded a section of slotted aluminum post into the seat tube. It essentially has a seatpost in there now, which I will recommend to all future customers who inquire about a seat mast. I repainted the affected area and it was ready to ride again. Just last week, he raced it at the Nationals in Madison and got 32nd. Attaboy! We’re very proud of him here at Circle A. Here are a couple shots of the bike after the repair.


My longtime friend Lee FINALLY got his bike together. Definitely a fun commuter/light touring ride. Hope you’re having fun, Lee!


And it was a long time ago (I think back in October) but we had our 10th year anniversary. A lot of friends and local builders came by to help us celebrate. We’d like to thank everyone who has supported us over the years and will continue to build for the unforeseeable future. Here are some shots of that beautiful day.


Next up is a travel bike with a couple of firsts for Circle A…

Mike’s handsome gentleman’s bike

I hope Mike enjoys riding this bike as much as I enjoyed building it. I’m always trying to use the customer’s input to visualize what they’re seeing in their mind and helping them get to that vision though components, paint, construction details, etc. This is a case where both of our visions came to fruition. This is Mike’s second Circle A and a big change from his cross bike that I built almost exactly one year ago. This is reminiscent of the cruisers of the 60’s and 70’s but with modern, lightweight components. The new Dia-Compe 610 centerpull brakes with their CNC’d aluminum arms are modern looking up close but resemble the classic Mafac brakes of times past. The same goes for the Campagnolo inspired IRD aluminum crankset and Mavic single speed wheelset. Many of the components on this bike were purchased from the Velo-Orange line that is fulfilling the needs of classically inspired cyclists everywhere. The complete bike with leather saddle, rack, and fenders weighs in at 23 pounds. And with a 46-18 around town gearing, Mike should have no problem getting this one up to speed.

See the full slideshow.

This Richard Sachs repaint was rusted and weather beaten when it first came in the shop. EVERYTHING was seized on there. Especially the bottom bracket and rear dropout alignment screws which were eventually drilled out and then re-tapped. There were even markings on the chainstays from someone bolting a Greenfield kickstand on there! Well, this one has been saved. New paint and love have brought this one back to life.

See the full slideshow.

This next frame was brought to the shop by our friend Billy who said it was built by Dave Hartranft of Lincoln, MA. If anybody has any information on him, I’d like to learn more. This frame needed a seat stay replacement in a bad way. There were no vent holes near the rear dropouts and the unconventional fastback attachment at the seat cluster allowed for a lot of water to get in there and it rotted out. I mitered a new stay in the same fashion and now it’s good to go again.


It has been a while since I’ve written anything here and realized that I haven’t mentioned the Bilenky junkyard cyclocross race that happened last month. It’s a non-competitive (for most) cyclocross race through the junkyard that’s in back of their shop in Philly. It was a damn good time and recommend it to any cyclists within driving distance.


In other news, we’ve been experimenting with matte clearcoats and got to test it out finally on a bike. This fillet brazed Icarus was requested to have a matte finish. So here it is! It isn’t something that I’m personally a fan of because it will get dirty fast. Maybe for a sunny day rider it’s perfect but as soon as it gets mucky out, you’d better hop on the beater.


And something special is coming together at the shop right now. I know everything we make or paint is special but this is my first foray into drillium! I was inspired by the rear dropout of the Hartranft that was at the shop and of course the stylings of Peter Weigle. And anyone else whose drilled out a dropout for that matter. These dropouts are going on a fillet brazed frameset for our new friend Dan. More about that one soon!

A 1976 Team Raleigh repaint, my commuter, a racer, and the D2R2

The latest restoration here at the shop was on this 1976 Team Raleigh frame. It came in with a busted fork so I built another with Reynolds 531 blades, Campagnolo fork tips, and a Cinelli crown. This bike apparently has quite the pedigree after the owner did his research on it. This is what he found out:

“According to people who know these things, the bike appears to have belonged to Jan Van Katwijk of the Dutch TI Raleigh/McGregor professional cycling team in 1976. This is evidenced by his initials in the bikes serial number (JK176 which indicates that this was the first frame built for Jan Van Katwijk in 1976). In 1976 Jan rode in both the Tour de France and the Tour of Spain. I haven’t been able to confirm if he rode this exact bike in either event but it’s probable because he was only with the team for a year. Jan’s brother Piet Van Katwijk also rode for the team and must have been a better rider as he was with them for six years. I bought the bike from Mike’s Cyclery in Boca Raton, FL in the early 80’s and was unaware of its history until I researched it for the restoration.”


In other news, I had moved last year to a location that was about 7 miles away from the shop. Before the move I had been doing my 3 mile commute on a single speed as that was fine. But for the past year I’ve been riding either my race bike or my cross bike and finally decided to build up a light touring/commuter bike for myself complete with front rack (soon) and fenders. This multifunction bike also survived the D2R2 this past weekend as there’s room for cyclocross tires on there. I was looking for mustard in the color and I got it. A mix of our yellow and gold came out with this classy number. Some subtle logos, a pearl coat over the whole thing, and a little yellow tint in the clear gave it some extra detail as well.

See the full slideshow.

This road frame and fork(s) is ready for some high speed club rides or road races. Full True Temper OX Platinum tube set and seat mast will keep the weight of this bike well below 17 pounds…and having the Edge carbon fork on there won’t hurt either.

See the full slideshow.

In non-bike building news, a bunch of Providence locals travelled over to Deerfield, MA for the 2010 D2R2. This was my first time doing it and it was one of the most fun rides I’ve ever done on a bicycle. Maybe it was the weather or the great group of riders or all the steel bikes or a combination of everything but I can’t recommend it enough. There were a lot of hills and our group did the 100k version. Maybe next year we’ll get brave and do the 180k.


Our kitty turns one year old this month too. Since she’s joined the Circle A team, morale has been up and productivity down (kidding). She’s the best thing that’s happened to the shop…aside from the Bridgeport. Here’s to many more years of her walking precariously onto bike stands while we try to file your lugs.


Josh’s all ’rounder

Just finished building up Josh’s blue commuter/touring/road bike. We went with a similar paint scheme to Matt’s single speed with solid white accents instead of silver and stainless. It’s also fully fillet brazed including the fork for a very fluid look. He went with primarily an Ultegra drivetrain with Sugino cranks and Dura Ace bar-end shifters. He put his already-broken-in Brooks B17 on there so he’s ready to put some hours in on this bike!

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See the full slideshow

Dave Wilcox did an amazing job of representing Circle A in the Oregon Manifest Constructor’s Race! He got 2nd place in the Constructor’s Race and we got 10th in the Design Challenge. All in all it was a fun time even though I didn’t get to go out to Portland to experience it. Maybe next year? If you’re in the Portland area though, check out all the bikes that will be on display until November 8th at Manifest headquarters at NW 10th and Hoyt (Thurs & Fri 2-7, Sat 11-7, Sun 11-5). For more information on the rest of the Oregon Manifest festivities, see the amazing coverage on the bikeportland website and their flickr page, as well as the main OM site.

Dave getting ready for the race. Courtesy of

In other news, cross season started again in the past month and Gloucester and Providence cross weekends were crazy! Well, I only went to the second day at Gloucester but it was a blast. I’m still getting back into the swing of things but it should be a good season. Circle A friends, Jay and Josie, spearheaded a goodtime cross team complete with jerseys. Say hi to Team Makeout Party. Clearly we take our fun very seriously. Here’s a pic of me post-race at Gloucester courtesy of Marty at Geekhouse.


Coming up next we have a tall cyclocross bike for Matt F. Check back soon!

¡Ay Gios mío!

I recently did a restoration on a mid-80’s Gios Torino. It came in with a lot of rust but it had a ton of potential. The finished product is better than new. The full slideshow has the complete before and after pics.

See the full slideshow

Cross season is just about over and this past weekend usually marks the final two races. It was the NBX cross weekend at Goddard Park here in Rhode Island. Winter came a bit earlt with freezing temperatures on Saturday and snow and ice on Sunday. Fun stuff. Dan, Jack, and I were there representing on Circle A’s. Thanks to and Kris Dobie for letting me post these here.


In not so interesting news, I made a 24 tooth single speed freewheel for the retro-direct project bike. Things are moving along at a glacial pace but it’s not the highest priority right now. But I’m sure I’ll be posting more about it soon.

Joe’s fillet brazed road frame, the George Street hillclimb, and more

So Joe’s bike is finished (completely since these shots were taken) and I’m waiting until I get back from vacation to do the paint. It seemed like it might be a little labor intensive so I didn’t think I should rush it. Here are the current shots. The next ones will blow your mind.

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See the full slideshow.

The Major Taylor Association’s annual George Street hillclimb was this past weekend and everyone was so fast!! The winning time was under 23 seconds by Rich Hollenbeck. Which basically means he averaged 15 miles an hour up an 18 percent grade. Crazy. We had a good Circle A turnout with myself, Hilary, Brent, Ken, and the Burkes. Congratulations to Liane Burke for getting 3rd!

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I also did a couple of repaints including this Moser track frame that has been around the block. I’ve seen it exchange hands several times and it has definitely seen some wear and tear. I was happy to get it back to riding condition again.

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And Adam finally came by and built up his bike. He put all SRAM Red on there with a nice set of DT wheels. The final weight with the pedals was 16.5 pounds! Can’t wait to hear the full ride report.

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Chris’s cross frame, another stem, and the Cox Classic

The front end of Chris’s lugged cross frame is in the jig and ready for brazing. He’s a tall fellow so this one’s going to be big. I carved a couple of cutouts on the bottom bracket shell to match the Richard Sachs lugs. I’m liking the way it looks like a hungry baby bird (or is it just me?). Here’s the status as of now.

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I finished a little fillet brazed stem for Steph’s bike this week as well. I’m not really psyched on the tiny stainless bolts I put on there so I’ll probably switch those out.

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Rick built up his flatland frame which is hot. Well, as hot as a brown bike can look.


And finally, our good friend, former roommate, and future Circle A rider, Adam St. Germain, got 4th in the men’s 2/3 race in this year’s Cox Classic in downtown Providence. This year the race tortured the riders by partially sending them up Waterman and then down Angell. It didn’t seem to phase Adam (or Gabe Lloyd who got 6th). Nice job guys! Hannah was on site selling cupcakes made from scratch. And everyone else just laid around in the grass. Myself included.

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Eggplant, coral, lace, and so much more!

So much has been happening in January! Where to start. Well, Stephen’s bike has been assembled, Micah’s bike is ready for parts, Hilary’s frame is completed and built up, Sarah’s coming up next with a cyclo-touring machine, Joe’s Viking decals finally came in from the UK, and Ricardo’s 3RENSHO is ready to be rebuilt. Phew.

Stephen came in yesterday with his Specialized to migrate the parts over to his Circle A. Everything went smooth and today was gorgeous so I’m sure we”ll hear the verdict on how it rode very soon. Here are some shots of the finished frame and the making of it.

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Micah’s frame was also completed recently with the most original color scheme I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a metallic eggplant, coral panels, and gold bands. Looks AMAZING! This one was built up with Dedacciai Zero tubing and Paramount lugs. Here’s the finished product and as usual, the slideshow.

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I also built a bike for my girlfriend Hilary’s birthday. It wasn’t a surprise because I had to get measurements to design the frame. The frame is built with Columbus Spirit for Lugs tubing (thanks Richard), Paramount lugs (thanks Kirk), and an old set of Reynolds 531 fork blades (thanks Owen). I did some fancy-shmancy vent holes in the head tube and some old styling cut outs on the BB shell. I also used the ultra-svelte single speed dropouts that we have cut over in Pawtucket. I brazed some stainless plates on them and then polished them up. The lace design was her idea and came out very classy. We actually went to the fabric store to find a nice lace pattern, scanned it in, and made an EPS file out of it to cut the vinyl mask out. Our old Roland vinyl cutter is somewhat of a relic so it wasn”t too happy with the intricacies of the lace. There’s an extensive slideshow of the build here.

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And finally, cross season ended over a month ago and I haven’t even mentioned that it totally changed my life. I need to personally thank everyone who made my first season so much fun including Jack, Hannah, Dan, Adam, Scotty, Scott G., and NBX. I never knew beer and bikes went so well together. So as a result, my plan for 2008 is to start off riding mostly flatland, move onto the road bike mid-summer, and then ride cross for the fall and winter. Year-round on a bike sounds like fun, right? Here are some choice shots from this season for your entertainment.

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Brian Fu’s trick track frame, a halloween alleycat, and more.

This week was dedicated to building a track frame that will be traveling halfway around the world to Hong Kong when it’s done. I was unaware of the fixed gear bike culture in Hong Kong but was made aware by Brian Fu who will be the proud owner of this Circle A. There was one non-standard request for this frame which was that he wants the bars to be able to spin 360°. This requires super long top tube, steep seat tube and head tube angles, and little to no rake on the fork. Exciting stuff but the challenge lies in the restrictions of it being a lugged frame. Lots of grinding and shaping to get the right angles. It’s made using Henry James’ lugs, Paul Components’ dropouts with integrated tensioners, and Columbus’ new Spirit for Lugs tubeset. Here are some pics of the progress so far.

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So I should’ve mentioned this here BEFORE it happened but today was the big Nightmare Before Christmas Halloween Alleycat here in Providence, RI. I’m sorry I spaced. There was a great turnout nonetheless. Mike Bike won it and chose a Circle A repaint as his prize. Hannah was first for women. Congratulations! I brought out the cross bike and rode almost the whole race with Marty from Geekhouse. It was such a good time. Bobby runs a tight ship. Keep up the great work!

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Emily wanted to see some pics of my built up cross bike on here so here they are. It’s only been raced once so far (unless you count the alleycat) but that will be changing very soon. Clearly built up with lots of Ritchey stuff and a Campy Centaur drivetrain.

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Hannah’s is done. Cross racing begins.

Hannah’s paint is finished and I’ll add pictures to the gallery soon enough. But for now, here’s a sneak peak at the finished product.

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The seat cluster The frame

Last September I had built a frame for Dan Langlois but never had the chance to take pictures of it. After a season of cross and doing a bunch of traveling, the well-used frame returned to the shop. so here’s a shot of Dan getting it back together. I painted a stem to match it as well. The cross season technically starts on Sunday for Dan with a race up in Agawam, MA. Good luck, man.

Dan’s cross frame The stem

Speaking of bikes returning to the shop, this red star fade bike has been making the rounds. It’s temporary home is for now at the shop. The original owner bent the seat stay and he sold it to a friend who had us replace the stay and repaint it. I should say right now that I will never do a paint job like this again.

Star fade

Two more cross bikes to do this week including one for Jack at the Hub and one for ME! Yes, me. I will be thoroughly testing one of my fillet brazed cross frames this year. Can’t wait. More pics to come soon.