The Handbuilt Perspective

Mosaic Cycles: a handcrafted bicycle manufacturer located in Boulder, CO. This blog represents our outlook on all things bicycle- perspective articles, community events, product reviews, and the many other aspects of this community.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Behold: The Mosaic Custom Ti Coupler Tagalong

We made two Titanium Coupler Tagalong bikes for an adventurous family through Salvagetti in Denver. More info and hopefully a video to come...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bike Polo, Anyone?

Geekhouse is featuring a custom polo bike this spring.  This beautifully coupled ride is ready for a traveling team, has an integrated one sided double cable brake lever to control with your left hand, disc rotor guard and spoke protected front wheel, fat tires and custom velcro to hold your mallet while riding to a scrimmage.  I am so thrilled to see my favorite sport represented so well. 

Polo season is upon us!  Stay tuned and join us for some fun! 

Keri, 32 - (nature enthusiast) rides, lives and works in Boulder CO

Monday, March 14, 2011

Is Riding My Custom Bike Cheating?

When people I race against get caught for doping, it ticks me off.  Mostly because I was left out of the loop-I feel cheated because I didn’t know what was going on.  We all want to be as fast or as good at cycling as we can be.  But we also want to achieve our goals legitimately.  So what qualifies as cheating?

Is riding a custom fit bicycle cheating?  If I show up to a local race or group ride and all of a sudden I don’t get tired like I used to, people get suspicious.  There are several developments that can attribute to my higher level of performance.  One obvious improvement is my new Mosaic (a track bike for my love of the Madison!), but it could be my diet (eat massive quantities of spinach?) or that I am well rested.  Are any of these cheating?  Most people would say no.  Both eating, resting, and owning a bicycle are necessary conditions of training.  Doping is at the far end of the performance enhancement spectrum.  Doping can be made legitimate as well, if it is no longer cheating.

We can embrace doping as a technology (just as we do frame materials or aerodynamics), IF and only if we have these three stipulations:  The first and most important is a take-off of the Hippocratic Oath- first, do no harm.  If the level of doping (remember the “dosage makes the poison”) causes short or long term detriment to the athlete’s health, it is not acceptable.  This will be the hard to prove, but once it is, the practice will be transferable to the general public for profit.  Second- the process/protocol for doping must be easily repeatable.  This means the details of each step are publicly available for anyone to use and doesn’t leave me or anyone else out of the loop.  From there, doping techniques can be experimented with like a science fair project just the way we experiment with diet and supplements.  Finally, a financial limit to how much can be spent per year on each professional athlete (it is normal for the UCI to regulate restrictions on other things such as bicycle weight) should be in place, lest we create a gap between riders from richer and poorer organizations.

So, riding my custom bicycle is not be cheating (whew!), because the creation and implementation of my bicycle follows these three guidelines.  It does not cause harm-rather, it makes you ride more-generally considered a healthy activity.  Second, the materials, building techniques, and fitting process are not a secret.  Any other company or individual can attempt to replicate the final product (the difference here would be the actual skill at implementing the whole process).  Finally, the the bicycle is available to anyone- it has a price, but compared to other racing bicycles, it does not create an economic limit to who can use the technology.

-Derek Loudermilk, category 1 cyclist with the Horizon Organic/Panache elite cycling team, endurance coach, and cardiac researcher.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

48 Hrs in Austin: Ready, Set, GO!

Already two days in the hole on sleep, I departed Boulder, CO on Friday afternoon to board the now akin-to-Greyhound Southwest flight to Austin, Texas--yeehaw! I left Boulder on a snowy 15 degree day and got off the plane in Austin, a balmy 60 degrees!

I found the Mosaic Cycles crew at their Super 8 motel. We piled in the Mosaic van and headed for the SoCo (South Congress) neighborhood. Out the back of the van I could see the crowds of fellow bike nerds in town for NAHBS. We found our friends at the Continental Club. The bouncer had an amazing Texan accent- I could not help but comment on it. Cheap or free music poured out of almost every bar we walked by. We got pizza and beers, ran into friends, then piled back into the van and arrived at Don's Depot (a honky tonk piano bar full to the brim with cotton heads in what I'll call "Texas goin' out clothes").  Many of the 60 and 70 year old women wore cheetah print boots or dresses--some with fringe. My favorite from the guys were outfits of leather pants, a button-up shirts, cowboy hats and of course, mustaches. After a couple drinks there we stopped at Austin Bikes where the party was winding down. I worked on some tricks on their little fixed gear on the shop floor while Aaron and others talked bikes and NAHBS.

At 12am I went to meet up with some of the Rapha crew at the Mellow Jonny's party (a bike store owned by the one and only Lance). On the way to meet them I found a metal bar called Head Hunters, which, of course, had free live music. A death metal band called Cerebral Desecration was about to start their set--bad ass! After listening for a while I found my friends at a gay bar called Kiss and Fly. Inside the bar we hung out with some locals, danced and drank. By 2:30am we made our way to the street, ate slices of pizza and laughed our asses off by smelling each other's armpits--a day of humidity, traveling and bike riding will do it. When the guys realized they were leading the gentleman's ride at 6:30am (in 3ish hours) we had to split.

In bed by 4am, I slept until 7:30, got up showered, ate and went the NAHBS where I deliriously "volunteered" for 4 hours. I did actually work for about two hours but then the distractions of visiting friend's booths began. By 1pm my head was in a cloud and I walked around and absorbed as much of the show as I could. After a nap, I went for a bike ride and tried to get lost. Austin was 70F by then and I was LOVING it! Back at NAHBS with more energy, I had a chance to take more time at the booths. I'm a sucker for trendy, clever aesthetics so I couldn't help but drift to Vanilla Cycles. I spent some time talking to those guys and drooling over details. Things that caught my eye: Cysco Cycles' twisted downtub, Dario Pegoretti's frames, Gaulzetti Cicli, Richard Sachs, Sheila Moon Apparel, Six Eleven Bicycles, Sylvan Cycles, and Bishop Bikes. I wish I had the chance to stay one more day and chat with more of the builders, particularly Richard Sachs. As the clock struck 6pm, the show ended for the day and my evening festivities were in the works.

A few of us with the Mosaic crew hit up the NAHBS BBQ at Bicycle Sport Shop.  I rode around the city and actually did get a little lost before making my way back to the hotel room, unclear of how humidity works. I was ready to hit the pool only to find that it closed at 10pm. After a second shower and a change of clothes, it was time for another night out with the Rapha crew. This time we headed away from the city center to a cafe/bar called the Spider House. After two rounds of drinks, it was time to hit the dance floor. Our group of ten had the bar to ourselves and a couple of guys played some old school funk. We finished the night out dancing our asses off as we drank. At 6am I departed for the airport wishing I had the balls to miss my flight and spend more time at the show and ride around the city. NAHBS brings together just the right kind of people and Austin is a gem.

--Stephanie, 27, rides, climbs, hunts, and tries not to work in Boulder, CO.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Show: Highlights

Digestible Matter: The Head Tube Badge

There is so much to take in at the show that it's hard to focus on everything. One entity that continues to stand out is the badge mounted on the head tube of each bicycle. I have an appreciation for companies who have attention to detail from end to end. 

The custom cut alloy badges that many companies display showcase creativity, personality and serious aesthetic detail that I can digest.

-Liz, 25- Middle School Teacher, lives and plays in Boulder, CO

*Badges from Naked Bikes, Black Sheep Bikes, Watson Cycles, Vanilla Cycles and Signal Cycles bicycles.

Speed Hound- What's Old Meets New:

Fabricating your own drop outs is an obvious way of keeping one's brand current and topical in the handmade cycling market.  It takes lots of experience and time to develop new ideas.  Speedhound satisfied one of my muses as a cyclist riding since the late seventies by combining their newest custom drop outs design with a restored 1950s vintage rear derailleur by the French manufacturer Huret.

This entire newly fabricated Speedhound frame is outfitted with c vintage components including the 50's vintage companion down tube mounted lever actuated front derailleur as well. all together it gives me the sweet remembrance of my early bikes and equipment some of which I have maintained and adapted to frames I still covet and ride regularly. 

-Rick, 60- Designer, works, paints, creates and lives in St. Louis, MO


Making International Friends:

The sun shines down on the bus's windshield as a young, well dressed Japanese man boards the city bus from the airport.  Wielding a $5.00 bill, our future friend is growing quiet as the language barrier heeds the monetary transaction of paying fare. He looks to me and asks if I can make change for him.

"I can't, but here is a dollar."  The idea that someone would willingly pay another fare was foreign to our new friend.

In very broken verbage we learn it's his first time to America, he's only been practicing English for 9 months and is headed to NAHBS.  He wants to attend UBI to become a frame builder and begin his own business.

Shinya Hattori, a true inspiration for taking big steps, away from comfort.

Go see the world, we're all passionate.

-Big Al, 24- Ast. Dir. of Field Marketing for a national sport nutrition company, lives and works in Boulder, CO. (with his rad dog named Stewart)

 YiPsan Town Bike:

As a frame builder, I appreciate the time it takes to craft a fully custom steel bicycle.  The attention to detail on the YiPsan town bike shows just that. Yipsan shows his craft on this fillet brazed bike with custom racks and all.  my favorite part; the detail work on the sliding dropouts and the seat tube/ top tube cluster.  Mmmm.

-Aaron, 27- Mosaic Owner, Frame Builder and Welder, lives and
works in Boulder, CO

Vendetta Cycles' Track Bike:

I have a great appreciation for bare ti and carbon frames, and there are plenty examples of amazing bikes at this show.  But what really catches my eye is color!

This eye-popping lime green track bike glows from twenty feet away.  And it has been beautifully pin striped by hand by a seventy-two year old man by the name of Carmickle who has been pin striping since the age of fifteen. His signature, visible in the picture, is so small it could just about fit on your thumbnail. It it wonderful to see a hand-built bike that is also so masterfully hand-painted, not just covered in decals.

-Grace, 22- Seismology Researcher Assistant, lives and plays in St. Louis, MO.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Show

Austin, TX: The North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

The Austin Convention Center is abuzz with bikes (and bicycle lovers).  We've been here almost two full days and still have so much to see.  The basic gist of this show is the same- we've convened to appreciate the craft of handmade frames and niche accessory companies. However, there's something special about Austin. This city is extremely friendly; a little southern charm goes a long way, especially for those of us who have traveled from all over the country to collectively drool at some of the most beautiful bikes out there.

There's so much to take in, both here at NAHBS and in this amazing city. We will feature both in the next blog updates. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

'Tis the Season

October, November and December are rough for me as a builder. The warmth from summer riding fades with the sunlight and my creative edge dulls with every waning day.

Then, January hits. And with it the realization that I have less than two months before the North American Handmade Bicycle Show- by far the most important event of my year.

This invigorates me. For the first two months of the year,  I devote almost all of my time thinking, building, and welding for this show. I give up exercise, lazy weekends, time with my friends and sleep to make this deadline. I work into the night polishing lugs and cutting tubes, ordering parts and making reservations, designing logos and redesigning my work space. 

This is what I love to do. 

The excitement I have felt about building over the last few months became palpable last weekend at Mosaic's Winter Open House.  Through word of mouth and the brilliance of facebook, we had a proud showing of local friends, family and bike enthusiasts. The fact that so many genuine people shared their support and enthusiasm for what I do makes me proud.

Seeing people come out to appreciate handcrafted bikes makes me think that we're doing something right. And it motivates me to keep going. 

Tomorrow morning I'm heading to Austin with a van full of bikes, hope to keep this momentum alive for the long haul.