September 7th, 2010

It’s been a crazy summer at many levels, but that doesn’t mean we’re not making bikes, not to mention people! First off is this sleek cyclocross bike for Matt:


We also did a top-tube replacement and repaint on a Hollands; once again Josie did the fantastic lug lining:


And a raft of other paint work: Basso, Zancanato, Icarus:


And I fabricated some arm rests for Bob’s tandem recumbent trike:


But most importantly, my latest collaboration with Sara – please meet Oscar Henry! If you think I’m not already planning his first bike you are so wrong.

I’ll be on paternity leave for a couple of weeks, but then I’ll be back in action, starting with Holly’s touring bike! Watch the skies!

CHARLIE! also, forks!

June 30th, 2010

But first, a Dawson update; last you read, he was on his own (well, he and his Circle A), westward bound – and the exciting news is, he made it to Portland! Oregon, that is! I hope to get him to write down some of his experiences, watch this space!

Meanwhile, I built a cyclocross bike for our friend Charlie at Bikes Not Bombs; here it is:

It features a mix of Dedacciai Zero, True Temper OX Platinum, and Columbus Zona tubing; Richard Sachs lugs; and a full complement of rack & fender mounts:


The red has a nice subtle metallic that you can really see in this last one:



I also built a fork for Joe; he wanted a nice tight-radius bend, and mounts for Paul Racer M brakes, as well as a Nitto rack. He sent me the rack so that I could get the mounts positioned perfectly; also I had to machine down standard canti posts for the Pauls. The last shot is right after clearing, with tape still on the posts & steerer:


Next: Matt’s cross bike! More forks!


June 11th, 2010

First, for your riding pleasure, is Rachel’s 26″ touring bike. The main concern here was toe/tire clearance; on a strict touring bike that can be less of an issue, but this bike will also do duty pulling young Virginia in her trailer around western Massachusetts, so we wanted to make sure she could negotiate crosswalks and sidewalks with ease, as well as style. Also, personally I like the proportions of smaller wheels on smaller bikes.

It’s a lugged frame, Dedacciai Zerouno tubing and Mini 6 lugs that give her a 6 degree sloping top tube. The fork features a Pacenti PBP crown, and it’s built up with a 105 Triple drivetrain on Deore MTB hubs.




Matt was looking for a bike that could serve primarily as a fixed gear, but have the option of running a rear derailleur. To this end I used Paragon track dropouts with a derailleur hanger (and bottle opener!), and put a water bottle boss under the down tube that he can screw a cable stop into when he wants to be multi-speed. I also did internal cable routing for the rear brake so it will look nice and clean when he’s running it as a fixie. In a bizarre coincidence, he chose the same green as Rachel.



I also did a couple of frame repairs and modifications: a new chainstay and track dropouts on Sean’s Bianchi mountain bike, and new Paragon sliding dropouts and new down tube on Patrick’s Soma. Just goes to show, steel bikes never die, they just get fixed! And finally, Josie doing some lug lining on a Royal H – check it out in the sun!



Next: Charlie’s cross bike!


May 20th, 2010

Before I go any further, please turn immediately to Matthew and Dawson’s blog. There’s a spoiler at the top, so if you can, go straight to the bottom of the blog, i.e. start from the beginning. I built Dawson a bike and he promptly took off on a cross-country trip, which is currently in progress! Here’s Dawson… well, not exactly riding his Circle A:

This is why we use Frame Saver in our frames, and why there’s a hole drilled in the bottom bracket! So I built Dawson a welded frame; regular readers will know that this is a bit of a rarity, folks just love those lugs… but I think you’ll agree that this is a welded frame with some nice retro flourishes:


And here it is with some paint:



And here’s the complete bike, built up with a Campy triple drivetrain:



Best of luck on your travels, Dawson! Next: Rachel! Matt! & Charlie! also, Paint!


April 22nd, 2010

First off, if you’re in the area, or even if you’re not, please stop by on Saturday May 1 from 1-4pm for our annual Open Haus Extrordinaire. You will there meet a fine selection of our friends and bikes, and there will be food and drink and general carousing. Don’t miss it! Afterwards a bike contingent will be rolling down to the May Day rally at the Statehouse.

Among the bikes you hopefully will see is Benno’s fabulous randonneur sportif. This has been one of most labor intensive and rewarding bikes I’ve ever built. Sometimes we have customers who give use their measurements, maybe a general direction, and let us have at it. Benno is not that customer. He essentially designed the bike himself, providing me with a BikeCad drawing, and was involved in all the details, including the design of a new fork-blade bending fixture!

Well the frame is done and mostly built up, and Brian will be making a custom front rack… here it is before parts:

Details to note: box lining by Josie Morway, a rear brake cable stop design stolen shamelessly from Peter Weigle, grommets for the coming internally-routed lighting, posts for the Mafac brakes, spoke ends for the electrical routing… and of course the gorgeous and super-light G.P. Wilson dropouts. More on those in a sec.






And here are some more pictures of the bike in process. Note the custom plugs I machined that allow me to silver braze the G.P. Wilson stainless dropouts.



I used an internal plug for the chainstays, as I did on the fork tips, but a stepped internal/external for the very skinny biconical seat stays, similar to what I did for Eric’s belt drive bike. Those are Dedacciai seatstays, as are the chainstays; the main frame is Reynolds 853.


Old spokes are super handy. Here I’m using one to hold in place the front fender boss. Also to note: matching the Mafac posts to the width on the original.


I also did a restoration on John’s Nishiki. Here’s a picture of it as it came in (with an old downtube shifter boss repair we did a while back still in primer gray), followed by pics of the finished product. I also removed the old cable guides for the rear brake and added slotted stops:



Next: Dawson! Rachel! And Mike’s single speed/multi speed lugged beauty!


March 2nd, 2010

At long last, I’ve begun work on Benno’s randonneur sportif. Often a bike starts with a drawing, but it doesn’t always look like this:

Benno had designed us a new fork blade bender. He’s been reading Bicycle Quarterly and wanted a super tight radius bend at the end of the blade. And who could blame him? In theory, it’s strong, as you’re concentrating the bend on the thickest part of the blade, but also provides a plusher ride, because a tighter bend means a longer lever for a given rake. And it looks totally hot.

So we want to make a new jig, and Benno has provided us with a plan. Where are we going to get a custom-cut hardwood block to his exact specs? Fortunately, we know a guy, or in this case, we know Mark and Liane at Kingsland. They are some of our best and favorite customers, in addition to which they do custom millwork with all sorts of badass cnc wood working equipment – they cut with water, fire, ice, they cut with their MINDS. It’s awesome.

So I gave them a call and said, we’re looking for something like this, say in maple, and they said send the design over & we’ll take a look. So I sent them Benno’s design, above – didn’t hear back for a couple days – was about to call to see what they thought, if this was something they could do, and before I can pick up the phone there’s a package containing a perfect maple block, needless to say precisely to spec. These are the kinds of friends you want to have.

Brian actually put the bender together, so I’ll let him describe that saga, but here’s a picture of him, the proud father:

Benno also wanted to use very thin-wall blades (.9/.6mm), and he wants the curve to go all the way to the dropouts – no straight bit at the end. AND he’s going for 60mm of rake for super short trail. All of this means I need to rake these very thin blades to the equivalent of about 80mm so that I can cut off the tip before brazing in the dropouts. This is dangerous stuff. So I packed the blades with sand and gave it a go:


Success! Now, complicating things is that I’m using these very expensive and very light GP Wilson dropouts. These things are like bird bones. And what’s more, they’re stainless steel, which means I can’t, or shouldn’t, use brass, the normal technique for installing a plate-style dropout. So I needed to machine some plugs so that I create a fine enough gap between dropout and plug, and plug and fork blade or stay, so that I can use silver. That looks a little something like this:

More on that continuing saga later; I also replaced a down tube on Patrick’s Soma. It had cracked at the head tube weld after taking a serious drop, so I cut out the old DT, and threw it on the alignment table to get it back in shape:


Then I mitered a new True Temper tube, and welded it in:


Next, he gets sliding Paragon dropouts! Also, I’ve been painting a lot for folks preparing for NAHBS; here’s a carbon wheel I painted with Red Pearl for Ian at Icarus:

Next: building Benno’s! and then: Matt’s fixed/multi speed lugged road machine!


February 1st, 2010

There’s been a lot of painting going on as I prepare for Benno’s Randonneur; first off was this Falcon restoration for our friend John. Looks better than new:

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I also repainted Scott’s IF, adding a brace for the disc brake mount, and an ISCG mount:

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And tons of paint for Hollands and Gaulzetti – more soon, including new fork blade bender! Also, at long last I added photos of the finished trailer class trailers – check those out here.


December 3rd, 2009

It’s been – how to put it? – an interesting couple of months for me. Most of the stress, drama, intrigue, hassle and tears have had to do with my restoring an old house, not an old bike; but that’s a story for another day, and in among the horsehair plaster and knob and tube wiring I saw some lovely beaten down bikes as well.

But first – Ron B and his singing 8 speed! This has been a long time coming, and it’s great to see it on the road. Just one shifter and one derailleur, 8 speeds, no waiting! Richard Sachs lugs, canti brakes – but the paint. Let’s talk about the paint. Ron went crazy old school with his designs, hand cutting the stencils, which he then applied after I did the black, and then I shot the bronze. Totally unique, very labor intensive, very cool I think you’ll agree:


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I also did several frame repairs that are good examples of how we can do a touch-up on the paint job, instead of doing a full repaint. Keep your bike on the road without breaking the bank.

Below are shots of re-brazing a broken seat tube/BB joint, a dropout replacement, and re-brazing a cracked seat stay joint. The BB is interesting as you can see how silver flowed along the shore line of the lug but didn’t penetrate the joint. It looked good but was very weak – but despite that still gave years of service before cracking.

In the dropout and BB case, I painted black over the affected area, with vinyl bands to protect the edge of the new paint and create a panel. On the Gemini with the seat stay issue, I did a hard line above the seat tube decal, and faded the black on the top tube and seat stays to match the other fades on the bike.

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I also painted a ton of bikes, both brand new and well worn: two from John Hollands of Baltimore, a Mustowy, an old St. Etienne, and 3, count ’em, Icarus… Icaruses… Icari… from our friend Ian:

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Pay particular attention to these two Icarususes… these two from Icarus. The first is a purple with standard pearl over it; the second a pale celeste green with red pearl. The flake on the pearl really highlights lug shores and fillet joints. And the last shot is one Brian took of me applying the lug lining with a Paasche Flow Pencil. One of the more stressful things we get to do…
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Next: Benno’s Randy! What? Chris K gets a-polishing! And probably some other stuff!


October 13th, 2009

It’s been a while, so much has been happening that I haven’t had a hot second to stop and write about it, but here goes! First off is KC’s coupled single-speed that shipped to Singapore last week! Take that, trade deficit!


You’ll also note the Paul’s dropouts with built-in chain tensioners, and the stainless steel down tube protector.

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I also added couplers to Terry’s Centurion, and painted a raft of forks for Team Geekhouse:

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We were also pleased to have a birthday ride with ANT’s Mike Flanigan, and saddened to say goodbye to Nathan, who’s off to work in an ICU in upstate NY; and psyched for a visit from Katharine, who had her Circle A retrofitted with a rear brake and basket:

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And that’s not the half of it, but it’ll have to do for now…


August 17th, 2009

So two bikes went out last week after waiting on some parts: Mo’s road bike, built with Columbus Spirit For Lugs tubing, with Richard Sachs lugs, fork crown and BB shell; and Jascha’s single speed disc-brake commuter, complete with stainless steel fenders and sliding dropouts. Let’s look at Mo’s first.

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Here are some shots of Mo’s in progress, including the internal cable routing. We use a brass tube to run the housing through, which insures that no water will make it into the top tube.

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And here’s Jascha’s burgundy and gunmetal commuter; he’ll be completing the assembly himself, and promises to send photos of the complete bike; I wanted to make sure the fenders fit properly around the tires. He’s using 28c tires right now, but the frame was built to handle up to a 35c.

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I also did a dropout replacement for a Rivendell that Harris Cyclery sent down to us. The customer didn’t want a full repaint, so I just painted cream up the stays to cover the affected area:

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Coming up: S&S couplers on a Centurion! More paint! Another 29er!

Circle A Cycles   |   523 Charles Street   |   Providence, RI   |   401.831.5221
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