Sandy’s tall road bike

Sandy is one of those guys who has trouble just walking into a shop and buying an XL carbon road frame and making it fit. If anyone needed a custom bike, it was him. It makes me feel so good when I’m able to build a frame like this. The frame is fillet brazed with True Temper OX Platinum tubing throughout. It is double oversized to add a bit of stiffness and to be proportional on a bike this tall. The ENVE fork was painted to match and he built it up with Campagnolo Chorus. He’s getting some good miles on it and it is clearly taking him to some beautiful places.

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This Colnago repair came to us from far away for some internal cable routing, shifter bosses, water bottle bosses, frame alignment, dent repair, and dropout straightening. A solid light blue with yellow pantographing and it’s back on the road!

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Nick’s touring bike

This bike is for a guy who can’t sit still, in a good way. He’s originally from Rhode Island but has been traveling all around the world for the past year or so. I’ve been trying to build his bike by covering all the bases via email. It can be a drawn out process when communication is strictly text based with delayed responses. So much more can be accomplished in a phone call. But Nick is an easy going guy and it was still a pleasure working with him. He went with a touring bike that should match his lifestyle pretty well. The paint is a fade but done from a light to dark blue so it’s very subtle. We don’t normally do fades but will take the plunge under certain circumstances.


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I had never seen a Chamberlain (Alaskan framebuilder) in person before and this one came in with a serious case of internal corrosion. The drive side chain stay needed to be replaced. A nice blue paint job with pink details, a healthy dose of Framesaver, and it’s ready to get back on the road/track.

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This black Waterford came in with a lot of rust as well. It’s amazing what the salt from our sweat can do to steel. It’s a wake up call for me to clean my bikes more than once a year. This bike was stripped, repainted, rebuild with a new drivetrain, and is back in action.

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A couple of repaints and a couple of remakes

Every once in a while a customer wants to make a modification to a Circle A but because they are so happy with the way it rides, they don’t want us to completely rebuild the bike. Here are two cases in point. This gold frameset was originally a yellow single speed. Chris wanted to make it compatible with a 3-speed hub and wanted a couple braze-ons added. Also, the stainless fork crown was originally satin and this time around I gave it a high polish shine. The details are a metallic brown to match the Chris King headset to be installed.

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This bright blue frameset was was originally a white and gray single speed. This time around, I removed the cantilever brake posts, drilled the fork, and added a rear brake bridge for medium reach brakes. The horizontal dropouts were removed and replaced with Ritchey vertical ones and the rear end was re-spaced to 130mm. Other changes include STI cable guides on the downtube, rear derailleur cable guides, and the front derailleur boss. The geometry was essentially a single speed road bike to begin with so this full road iteration will not handle differently but will now be able to climb some big hills!

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Craig brought this 1950s(?) mystery frame to us with the bottom portion of one on the fork blades missing. Our job was to replace the blades with an original set of Reynolds 531 imperial oval pencil blades and recreate the original front dropouts (as only one was still attached). A repaint was obviously needed as well. I reinstalled the pump mounts on the downtube, one of which was hacksawed off at some point. I also reinforced with brass and a small piece of steel tubing the seat binder whose stamped shape had been crushed over the years.

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Jamie’s 90s fillet brazed Charles Roberts came in a bit rusty and with a slightly chipped up red paint job. Looking to make a bike that he loved ride like new, he had me paint the frame black with some silver detailing in the pantographing on the bottom bracket. And voila, it’s a new bike!

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Steve has had this Fuji Dynamic 10 all his life. It’s his favorite bike and with the tubing that it’s built with, it’ll definitely last him a lifetime. It was starting to rust in the areas where the paint had chipped and the chrome was almost completely gone on the fork. I blasted off the loose chrome and painted the bike this Porsche Viper green by his request. I also added the downtube water bottle and shifter bosses.

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My wife and I recently took a trip to Ireland for our first big vacation together. It is a beautiful country but with incredibly narrow roads which would’ve made for some adventurous cycling. While driving on our trip, we came across this “Circle A” rental bicycle parked near the Cliffs or Moher. It’s a little different from the ones we make.


A bike for a box

This bike was designed as a 26″ wheeled single speed with the S&S internal style couplers. In order to get the couplers to fit inside the tubes, they needed to be turned down on the lathe (see pic). Since it is a travel bike, Tim wanted to go with a more durable matte black powder coat for paint. But we only do wet paint so the guys over at Geekhouse were happy to oblige with their powder services. It has been built up with all silver and black components for a very monochromatic look. It’s definitely a serious looking bike with a purpose.

See the full slideshow.

In other repairs and repaints, this Independent Fabrications frame came to us to have the canti posts removed and get set up for a disc brake. I put on the guides, brace, and disc mount and then gave it an understated blackish blue paint job with light cream panels. Looks great, Vince!


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…

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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…

Joseph’s satin cross frame and Ricardo’s rides

Joseph went to RISD here in Providence and then moved back to China for work and family. While he was here in Providence he helped out here at the shop for a bit. When he wanted us to build him a cyclocross frame, I was so excited. This one also has the flexibility of being a light tourer and have fenders put on it. We went back and forth a couple times to get the paint details straight and I’m very pleased with the satin finish that he chose. The seat cluster has a very non-steel look. Almost molded. Defying the standard steel look wasn’t my goal but was very satisfying.

See the full slideshow.

And our friend Ricardo has had us do some paint and repair work for him over the years. He took some time out of his busy schedule to bring by some of the completed projects. A very nice stable of bikes indeed!





Next up are the final couple of cross bikes for the year!

Mid-summer projects wrapping up

The summer of 2011 has proven to be hot and busy. That combination usually gets me stressed out but we’re survivors here at Circle A. The projects keep coming in and we have to keep them moving. These are the latest projects that I’ve recently completed. First up, this Richard Sachs came to us after Richard replaced the downtube. I built a new fork for it and painted the frameset this dark green with a slightly tinted yellow clearcoat to give the panels a creamy look.


This Mondonico came from the same owner as the Richard Sachs. It was in a parking garage vs. roof rack accident and needed both the top and downtubes replaced. The head lugs and head tube were saved and ground out. This bike also needed a new fork so I built one with the original crown minus the pantographing. A black paint job with gold details made this frameset good as new.


Our friend Francine came back to us to have her bright blue Waterford touring bike toned down a bit. She did the difficult task of picking the color and I did the complete breakdown and refinish. The result is this Daytona Blue beauty ready to roam the countryside.


I built a road frame for the owner of this Ira Ryan back in November of last year. He sent me this cross frame to have a couple modifications done as well as a full repaint. The final result is this stunning sparkling purple beauty ready to get covered in mud again!


This Harry Quinn has a lot of history as old bikes often do. I personally acquired this bike back in 1998. It was my daily commuter for a while, then my retro-direct experiment, and then it was passed on to my friend Mitch who has been riding it hard on the streets of New York, Boston, and Providence. It came back to the shop looking beat to hell but now it has been rejuvenated and is ready for many more years of service. Be good to her, Mitch.


And Mike’s bike that was completed last month has been fully built and ridden. Here’s a shot of the complete bike. The steerer tube has since been cut down, of course.

There was also a pretty rare flatland contest here in New England last month. Even rarer was the fact that there were four Circle A BMX frames in attendance! I had to get a shot of them all together still going strong.

Next up is Trevor’s XCr road frameset. It is a looker so check back soon!

Mike’s light tourer

The blog was down for a little over a week and I assumed that no-one would notice but a lot of you did. And no, I’m not going anywhere. I did start building bikes on the side as Chapman Cycles (more on that in another blog post) but I am still a full-time framebuilder/painter here at Circle A. My latest frame for Mike P. is a light tourer built with Columbus Zona tubing and Richard Sachs’ Rene Singer lugs. Dark blue pearl with lighter metallic blue panels round off this classy frameset. Almost all the parts are in so I’ll get some complete bike shots soon.

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This Mercian came in for a whole series of modifications. It was originally designed to be built up with 27″ wheels and now will be good with 700c wheels and cantilever brakes. The derailleur cable routing was moved to underneath the bottom bracket and a rear derailleur hanger from a Campagnolo dropout was brazed on. A new seat binder, rack mounts, fender braze-ons, and a black paint job and Chris is ready to go! Chris is also responsible for the Mercian Register on Flickr. Check it out if you get a chance.

See the full slideshow.

This Rivendell came to us in rough shape. There was a gaping hole in the top tube from corrosion. Needless to say, it had to be replaced. It was built at Waterford so it was silver brazed which is helpful when the lugs are very intricate like these. We gave it back to the customer as is because he wanted to get it powder coated for a nice durable finish. If *you* need any frame repairs done, please check our price sheet and then drop us a line if you want some help.


This paint job was for Alchemy out of Austin. Great people, great bikes, fancy paint. Getting those stripes to line up is trickier than you think!


Our friends, and amazing husband and wife team have been helping us out a bit here at Circle A. First, Josie, accomplished painter and designer, has been making us look amazing with her lug lining skills. This is all done with a brush and a steady hand, people. Truly a craft that she is a master at. Every frame that she does blows my mind. Including this cream Icarus which I painted and she lined.


And her husband Jay is a veteran high end auto finishing master whose skill set transferred very nicely to bicycles. He did the paint on this red Icarus.


And when you get them working together, they can make beautiful things look more beautiful like this Johnny Coast.


Next up is a lugged Columbus XCr stainless frameset and more repairs and repaints!

Brian K.’s single speed and the painting marathon continues

So much is going on at the shop right now! I think I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again—busy is good. Too busy, though—not as good. I think I’m riding that line these days. The sun is shining, the weather is hot and I’m holding a torch instead of cruising down a winding road in the woods. Oh well. But THIS is what I have to show for it. The latest bike is a single speed for Brian K (his second Circle A!). He went with the Paul Components rear dropouts with the adjusters and the monostay. This bike is clean, folks. Elegant fillet brazed construction with the understated gloss black. You have to look closely to appreciate the details on this one.

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My brother’s birthday was a while back and I had given him my old Circle A flatland BMX frame (one of only 6!). Unfortunately, he rides with back brakes (not that common in the flatland world nowadays) so I had to braze on some u-brake mounts and cable stops. I gave it a new paint job and it’s almost like he has a new bike. Old men on little bikes—Hooray!

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This Lemond Maillot Jaune came into the shop with some serious rust pitting on the Reynolds 853 steel portion. It wasn’t too deep, so after a light sandblasting and heavy primer/wet sand/primer, it was looking pretty good. The paint is a dark blue pearl with a silver base underneath. Painted on logos, bands, and panels and he’s ready to get back on the road.


Other paint work coming through the shop include this Zanconato brought in by the one and only Mike Zanconato. One of the nicest framebuilders in New England (no joke). Light blue with gray panels and white detailing. Those seat tube and down tube logos are painted on as well.


And this Riordon built by Ben Riordon out of Newburyport, MA. Chartreuse with classic seat tube stripes and a bold red panel on the downtube made for a very striking and unique paint scheme.


Another fork I made in the past month or two was for a Surly Cross Check owned by our friend Benno. The bike was being re-purposed as a porteur style bike so to get the geometry to what he desired, he needed a new fork with 70mm(!) of rake. I brazed spoke heads on the inside of the fork leg as a wire guide from the dynamo hub.


This fork off of an Abel Borne was sent to us because the crown race was milled too far and the front dropouts were chewed up beyond repair. The original dropouts were gas welded in so the ends needed to be cut off and the blades re-slotted. A set of Ritchey dropouts were chosen as a replacement and then heavily carved to mimic the original shape. I then built up the crown race with silver brazing alloy and re-machined it.

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I built this tiny rack and a fork for our friend Ryan who had acquired this tan Tournesol. He had a specific design for the rack in mind and I tried to get it to what he was envisioning. The Tournesol fork was designed to be a very shallow 41mm of rake and I did this on our bender which applies most of the rake at the fork end. The rack and fork were painted to match the frame and the rest is history.


And finally, some pictures of completed bikes. This is a Raleigh that I had repainted a bit ago, Bobby Earle’s IF that was re-re-painted, and Steve’s single speed that I built last month hanging out at the beach. I’m so jealous!


Training Day

It has been some time since I’ve built a single speed so Steve’s bike was a fun project for me. This one is going to a former Rhode Islander now residing in southern California. It went there as a complete bike and I’ll have those pictures next posting. It’s built out of Dedacciai Zero Uno tubing with a white/celeste green paint scheme. The quote on the top tube is pretty awesome. Clearly Steve means business.

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Steve’s (another Steve) 1973 Raleigh Record Ace came into the shop with the Raleigh Racing USA paint scheme. Originally this bike would have been a white main frame with a yellow head tube and stripes on the seat tube. Someone in Iowa had already done some modifications and had it repainted and repaired. The original Record Ace fork was replaced with another Raleigh fork. The original Stronglight components had been replaced with Campagnolo as well. The frame was definitely worth keeping on the road so Steve had me paint it in the color scheme that he got it with but with a black head tube. The Reynolds 531 and Carlton decals that came on the 1973 RRA are on there for accurate ID but the other decals are very much Raleigh USA style. Complete bike pics to follow.

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I’ve become very familiar with Bobby Earle’s IF MTB frame. Originally I modified it to run 650B wheels and cantilever brakes. This time around I put on a disc brake mount, added a brace between the stays, and removed the canti posts. The bike got a straight white paint job and it being built up with some of the nicest components out there!


And it’s hard to stay out of the paint booth in these parts. Here are a couple of Bowen’s that I finished up a bit ago. One full paint job and one touch up.


Coming up next is Brian’s (not me) single speed with monostay, more restorations, more paint, more repairs, and hopefully more riding for me.