John S’s single speed, complete bikes, and more!

John’s single speed left the shop late last week and was on the road by the weekend. It was aching to get dirty on these dry, dusty Rhode Island roads. He put 75 miles on it in one day which blows my mind for a single speed (more like a two speed with the White Industries double freewheel). This sharp bike is primarily white with gray panels and blue accents for the logos and cutouts in the Richard Sachs lugs and fork crown. He went with Paul Components cantilever brakes which will give him more than adequate stopping power as he contends with some of the worst drivers in the country.

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I also built a fork and quill stem for our friend Ricardo. This was sort of a collaboration as he did the polishing of the stainless and created the stencils for the fleurs de lis. It’s was a long time in the making but it’s finally done.


We always have tons of pictures of frames, forks, racks, stems, and whatever else we make or paint here. While we’re doing all of that, we want to make sure that the bike and components come to fruition as a whole. Maybe it’s a Brooks saddle or sweet Campagnolo Super Record gruppo that is the glue that brings the whole thing together. Here are a couple of shots of some of our most recent builds in their complete form. I’ll try to get more together for future blogs so you can get ideas on what is best for your Circle A.


And finally, tandems take time. Lots and lots of time. I’m in the middle of fillet brazing my first for our friends Jay and Josie who are getting married later this month. Deadlines! Here are a couple of shots of the build in progress. I managed to modify our current tube mitering setup to easily do the complex cuts on the top and lateral tandem tubes. More updates to come soon. Back to work now.


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.

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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.

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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.


Stainless steel frames, complex front racks, and the big day.

I’ve finally finished the second Reynolds 953 frame this year for our friend Nathan. I don’t anticipate doing a lot of these frames based on the availability of the tubing but it’s a nice change of pace once in a while. The advantages of using stainless is not super light weight if it’s going to be lugged (which is how I do it) but rather the option of leaving the frame raw. Nathan chose to leave a significant portion of the frame exposed. I have to say that I never thought I would have ever painted flames but I’m very happy with how this came out. It’s all oversize thin wall tubing which is conducive to distortion when brazing. This is mostly crucial when brazing the seat cluster together so little to no seat tube reaming will have to happen. All went well and Nathan should have the rest of his Edge components this week to complete the build. I’ll make sure I get some complete bike shots when all is said and done.

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Speaking of completed stainless bikes, Mark stopped by the shop the other week to show us the amazing components he used to complement his orange 953 frame. What a head turner!

One of the other projects I was working on recently was a rack designed by our friend Benno who Chris built a bike for earlier this year. This rack is designed to go with the fork that Chris created. It’s made for light touring with a handlebar bag and small Ortlieb front panniers. It’s a unique design and after I was done complaining about all the complex angles, was really stoked on it. I plan on building a light touring/commuter bike for myself later this year and am now contemplating this rack design (with Benno’s permission). The stability of the fender is amazing! There are three contact points not including the struts. This one has yet to be plated because he’s doing some field testing with it first.


And finally, I will be married by the end of this week! Rings and cupcake stands are being brazed up and all the loose ends are coming together. I’d like to thank all my customers who have been patient and understanding during this busy time. Come July, I’ll be working at full steam once again. In the meantime, here’s a shot of me and Chris playing around at my bachelor party ride. Good times and great adventures to come!

Noriyuki’s 1×10

This frameset will be making its way over to Japan very soon! Things to note about this frameset are the subtle “dark white” main color with white seat tube and head tube, polished stainless lugs/fork crown, and a custom stainless cutout of his son’s name on the top tube. What a tribute! It’s made from Columbus Spirit for lugs tubing, Richard Sachs lugs, Henry James bottom bracket shell, and Henry James front and rear stainless dropouts. Another way it’s unique is in the way it’s going to be a 10 speed in the literal sense. No front derailleur braze-on and a shifter boss on the drive-side only. Classy!

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And we had our annual open house this past weekend with summer-like weather! Lots of people showed up and checked out the shop even though we gave them next to no notice. Sorry. We’ll try to be more on the ball next year.


Masi Gran Commuter

Our friend Ricardo brought this Masi Gran Criterium in a little while ago and it had a thrashed seat lug and seat tube. He wanted to convert it into a commuter and I was very willing to help. Having already replaced the seat tube on this frame and built a new fork for it, I didn’t see it as being sacrilege to do this conversion. Ricardo is going to be getting groceries and running errands on this bike with great style. The silvery metallic purple has an almost micro-suede look to it that just makes you want to reach out and touch it. And the super thin clearcoat really shows the definition of the lug lines and file marks from its original builder.

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In other news, we’ve been painting…A LOT. I will resume with the frame building very soon as we don’t want our wait list for frames to get out of hand. Here are some shots of a recently completed Royal H mixte — a very lovely bicycle. More paint work to follow suit.


Lastly, the weather in many parts of the country has been crappy and cold this winter. It has been taking its toll on my morale and my commuting bike. Salty roads and metal don’t work so well together (see pic of my Phil Wood bottom bracket). Just a quick reminder to take care of your bikes in this season. We don’t want you to get any seized seatposts or stuck bottom brackets. Take ’em apart when you can to make sure everything is all right in there. Grease your posts and BB threads. Spray some frame saver in there as well if you can get the whole bike apart. Your bike will thank you many years from now by not rusting away.


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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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!

Finished frames in good hands

These two bikes are the only bikes that I’ve built and had other people paint. The first one is a cross bike for my friend Jay Nutini. He’s an amazing auto restoration artist who wanted to polish the stainless lugs and paint his frame/fork/stem/seatpost on his own. He put a lot of time into finishing this frame and got a big hand with the downtube design and lug lining from his girlfriend Josie. I think we made a pretty good team. He currently has it set up for road use and tested it by riding 150 miles last weekend!

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The other frame was a cross bike as well for our good friend and painter Nathan Trombly. Nathan has an amazing amount of skill in the booth. He used to work at Independent Fabrications a couple of years back and at Circle A before he went to nursing school. Well, he’s back at the shop but we’re not sure for how long because he just passed his RN exam! Congratulations! He did his own design for the Circle A logo as well. It has internal cable routing, no polished headbadge, and he’s rockin’ the seatmast. I’ll make sure I get a picture of the complete bike up here soon as it looks pretty mean built up.

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We also got some new additions to the shop. Our landlady handed me a bag with a kitten in it about a week ago. This little girl is Burger Time, Jr. Or possibly BT, Time Bandit, or maybe just Kitty. She’s cute though and is guarding the office so beware. We also acquired another Bridgeport milling machine via our friend Jim Frain. We now have two monsters of metal at the shop. Can’t wait to cut some tubes on it!

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Dave Wofford’s bike is just about done so check back early next week for his new frame and fork!

Ralph’s stainless Reynolds 953 frame

The latest frame completed here at the shop is a stainless bike for Ralph. It’s a lugged single speed built with Reynolds 953…mostly. I say mostly because the head tube, fork blades, seat stay bridge, and rear dropouts are not stainless (hence the paint). The painted parts are black with a red pearl so it’s pretty fancy in the sunlight. The bike has a satin finish as opposed to the polishing I’ve done on stainless bits in the past. I’m a big fan of this finish not only because polishing stainless is a painful process but because of it’s raw feel. Ralph has chosen some pretty classic Campy parts to complement the frame. This one will be on display at the Maker’s Market in NYC from the 26th through the 28th of June. Stop by and say hi if you’re in the area and have a minute. In the meantime, check out the pics.

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I also painted a lugged Nitto stem to match.

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The open house we had two weeks ago was a great time. Lots of people came by to hang out in the “new” backyard complete with grass, eat some food, drink some drink, and mingle. This is the second one we’ve had in the spring and will probably have it every year around this time. So if you missed it, mark your calendar for next year!

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There’s always another bike coming up and this one is a lugged road bike for Dave in North Carolina. The lug carving has already begun and I should have something to show next week.

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Matt’s bike is complete and the Circle A open house is this weekend!

So Matt’s single speed is polished, painted, and ready to be built up! This bike is probably one of the more over-the-top ones that I’ve ever done. It has the stainless logos on the downtube, stainless headbadge, stainless dropout faces, and polished stainless fork crown and lugs. Many hours went into getting the bike to this level. The stripes on the seat tube were inspired by some vintage bicycle painting styles to give the bike a little bit of a classic feel.

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I also built several fillet brazed stems recently and painted them to match the bikes they’re going on (including one for Matt’s blue bike). One quill and two threadless and all with recessed binder bolts. Check ’em out in all their silky smooth glory.

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And finally, this Sunday, May 31st is our annual open house eat ‘n’ drink shindig! We’ll have some stuff but please BYO whatever you want. Bring your bike! Invite your friends, and let us know if you have any questions. We also have a fresh stock of t-shirts for sale and finally are making prints of Alec’s famous Circle A poster, courtesy of IO Labs! If you’ve never been here and need directions, check out the map.

So simple yet so beautiful

The latest frame to go out the door here at Circle A is a single speed commuter for Steven in Pennsylvania. The pastel palette he chose is going to make for a beautiful complete bike. It’s a classic cream color with faded sea foam panels, head tube, fork blades, and details. This will definitely be a head turner.

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And I’ve still been doing tons of paint work. I guess I just can’t get enough of the fumes. I did a couple frames for Royal H (off white with orange lug lining) and Icarus (red and white with pearl).

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I also did a repaint of a Klein Q Pro XX for Clyde in North Carolina. You will definitely know what kind of bike this is when he comes flying past you.

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And I went to Indianapolis recently to check out the handmade bike show. Thanks to Marty from Geekhouse for being accommodating and letting me sleep on his hotel room floor. I met a lot of great people there and can’t wait to display next year. Word on the street is that it’s going to be on the east coast. We’re keeping our fingers crossed!

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