Richard Sachs Is…The Bike Whisperer

Richard Sachs“What drew me in was the combination of a beautiful sport with beautiful bikes. They spoke to me, and they were used for racing.” These are the words of the immortal Richard Sachs, one of the 29 bicycle artisans featured in the new book The Elite Bicycle. 

When the name “Richard Sachs” is uttered, a number of images are called to mind. Perhaps one of those is of a crotchety Dickens’ character with a particular distaste for the holidays. But, believe it or not, there’s more to this bicycle builder than meets the eye.

Let The Elite Bicycle paint a different picture of Richard Sachs for you. Once upon a time, a teenage boy destined for a career in writing and journalism, constantly found himself in the treasure trove that was Kopp’s Cycles near Princeton. Trip after trip to this bicycle haven, young Richard Sachs eyed the two-wheeled machines like a kid in a candy store. Having been smitten with bike racing for some time, a hankering grew for the sleek machine, the goblin-silver components, the wheels, so frail in look, but so strong in use.

Richard Sachs CyclesUnable to deny his feelings for the bicycles, he made his way to Manhattan, searching for a position with a bicycle mechanic. But his search led him much farther away than The Big Apple. It led him across the ocean to Britain to labor without pay in return for training.

Sachs landed at Witcomb Lightweight Cycles in Deptford, by the Thames, where the diarist John Evelyn grew lettuce all year round, near the shipyard where Peter the Great of Russia learned to build vessels for his navy, and where Ferranti lit The Light (the power system) with his new system of electricity. And it was here that the 18-year-old Sachs devoted his life to bicycle building.

The Witcomb environment taught Sachs a lot of things. He developed an undeniably profound bond with bikes that perhaps only a few will ever understand. According to him, “If you can’t feel, discern, use intuition, or listen to the material, all the quality checks and dial indications in the world will add misery to the process.”

Richard Sachs CyclesFor Sachs, that process now takes place in a spotless, white-painted workshop, amply lit by natural light.  It’s situated not far from the Connecticut River, in a Thoreau-esque, New England, backwoods retreat. He functions best in silence and solitude. Silence carries “the sound of my own thoughts,” he says, “I can hear my own voice clearly  without interruption. When I work alone, it’s me, the metal, and the heat, and we work out this little passion play between us.”

In this contemplative place dedicated to the practice of excellence, with only one power tool, metal whispers to this passionate frame builder, and sometimes, he whispers back.

This brief portrait of Richard Sachs Cycles was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, nownow available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers:

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble – The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear – The Elite Bicycle

Road Bike Review on The Elite Bicycle: “Fantastic”

“What makes The Elite Bicycle so fantastic is not so much what is said about the people and companies themselves, but the insightful, lesser-known tidbits that provide a greater depth of understanding…It’s little gems that are peppered throughout the already rich descriptions of people and place that make the profiles spring to life.” — RoadBikeReview.com

Road Bike Review The Elite Bicycle

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble – The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear – The Elite Bicycle

Bicycling Magazine Chooses The Elite Bicycle

“While the only way to truly experience the quality and craftsmanship of these components is to ride them, the book gives an effective introduction to many of the brands we often hear about without ever fully appreciating why. After spending a few hours with The Elite Bicycle, you’ll no longer be a just a name-dropper.” — Bicycling magazine

Read the rest of Bicycling’s review of The Elite Bicycle on this Gear of the Day review.

The Elite Bicycle

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble – The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear – The Elite Bicycle

Brooklyn Bike Snob ‘Prolly is Not Probably’ Digs The Elite Bicycle

Prolly is Not Probably is an urban bike culture blog that began its cultural commentary in 2006. John Watson, the site’s editor, feels that The Elite Bicycle is rather swell.

The Elite Bicycle Prolly is Not Probably

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble – The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear – The Elite Bicycle

DiNucci: The Portland Pioneer of Frame Builders

West of the Blue Mountains, the last formidable obstacle which the American pioneers tackled on the Oregon Trail (the historic route linking the Missouri River to the Oregon valleys and the Pacific coast) sits a large house on a hill, in the middle of nowhere. The house is surrounded by pine trees, which play home to the only neighbors around: birds and squirrels.

At the end of a rugged road facing Mount Washington, the house is so remote, it might be at one of the imagined “corners” of the round earth. The man who lives there prefers it that way. It provides him with the right kind of atmosphere to do what he does best: build bicycle frames. In this forested oasis, Mark DiNucci produces award-winning, hand-crafted bicycles; his work is  just one example of the 29 bicycle builders featured in the new book The Elite Bicycle. 

One could call DiNucci the Portland Pioneer of bicycle frame-builders. The first modern bike frame built in Portland was built by him, but not in his secluded mountain home. This was back in 1971, around the time when he was a young bike racer. In his first ever race, a rider forced him off a bend in the road, leaving him with a broken collar bone. DiNucci used his time off the bike to evaluate why his machine didn’t take the corners as well as others. The rest, they say, is history.

DiNucci CyclesWith no formal training, DiNucci operated on instinct. It took time to get things right, of course, but with desire and native intelligence, he has built some very special machines indeed.

It’s about the feel of the bike, DiNucci says. And while this technique may not impress techno geeks, it’s certainly worked for him. In the 2010 North American Handmade Bicycle Show, he took the prize for Best Lugged Frame: a cherry-red lip-gloss glistening steel frame, olive green mudguards, stitched leather-bound handlebars with matching brake hood, large flange hubs, and a single speed for fast coursing.

In 2011, DiNucci’s building intuition paid off again at NAHBS with his Best of Show townie. For just a one-man operation, where every lug is shaped, brazed, and filed by him, where dropouts and fork crowns are cast by his own two hands, the recognition he has received for his craft is rather impressive, and it is a testament to this man’s calling: bicycle building.

This brief portrait of DiNucci Cycles was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble – The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear – The Elite Bicycle

 
 

Brooks England Finds Itself Pleased with The Elite Bicycle

“With such a roll-call of names, the authors were certainly off to a good start…and they have managed a hugely rewarding and useful guide for any bike enthusiast. One which not only covers some of the technical aspects of production in engaging depth, but also gives great insights into both the personalities and, dare we say it, philosophies behind the storied names we see etched, stickered and pressed onto the various pieces of our machines each time we throw a leg over the bar.” — Brooks England Blog

Brooks England Blog The Elite Bicycle

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle
Barnes & Noble – The Elite Bicycle
Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle
IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle
VeloGear – The Elite Bicycle

Tony Pereira: Inspiring the Next Generation

Tony Pereira CyclesFrame building is often described as an art, but it is also a craft. Perhaps most importantly, though, frame building is an engineering discipline. Tony Pereira not only understands this, but he also embraces it in his building endeavors. He’s one of the Portland, Oregon-based frame builders featured in the new book The Elite Bicycle. 

Pereira and his fellow frame-building friend, Ira Ryan, have similar philosophies when it comes to bikes and riding. They both love to build practical bikes, useful machinery to be ridden daily to and from work whatever the weather, and Portland has plenty of weather. Many of Pereira’s bikes feature racks and fenders and a sensible place to stow a U-lock. He also offers neat accessories such as machined aluminum fender mounted taillights.

The symbiosis between Pereira and Ryan has led to the creation of Breadwinner Cycles in 2013, a joint venture offering a range of TIG welded custom steel bikes built by hand in Portland with the best US-made components. Both of the signature builders will continue to build under their own names however, but Breadwinner will offer something a little less expensive, produced a little more quickly (in eight weeks to be exact). Their five-year plan includes establishing a factory, hiring welders, and making 1,000 bikes per year.

Tony Pereira United Bicycle InstituteBut Pereira’s passion for the craft and for the engineering is perhaps most visible in a classroom. He’s a popular lecturer at the world-famous United Bicycle Institute also located in Portland. Founded more than 30 years ago, with the aim of making learning about bicycles fun, students come to soak up valuable two-wheeled knowledge, either to further their careers within the industry or simply to gain a better understanding of what they’re riding. Many graduates have gone on to become successful bicycle builders, mechanics, and bike shop owners.

Pereira lectures in the frame-building department on the theory and practice of brazing steel. He wants to pass his experience on to fellow lovers of the sport, the craft, and of the bicycling industry as a whole.

Tony Pereira United Bicycle InstituteSince no prior knowledge or experience is needed to take the class, Pereira starts with the basics such as the correct use of a saw, which can make a huge difference to the way that tubes fit together before they are assembled, by keeping gaps to a minimum. He then gives them advice on cutting the metal to size, using a file (the right file), and insists that only when you’re completely happy with the dry joint should you light up a torch.

Once he’s finished his demonstration like that of fixing a dropout into a piece of chainstay, he takes questions and lets the students get to work at their own benches. With Pereira’s teaching skills and building expertise, his students, with practice, are on their way to producing their own high-quality road or mountain bike frames as promised to them in the course syllabus.

This brief portrait of Pereira Cycles was adapted from its full chapter in the new book The Elite Bicycle.

The Elite Bicycle by Gerard Brown and Graeme Fife

The Elite Bicycle brings together intimate portraits of the world’s greatest bicycle artisans, examining the philosophies, the meticulous workmanship, and the eccentric personalities behind cycling’s most prestigious brands. Their materials and methods could not be more disparate, yet their pursuit is the same: the perfect bicycle.

Enjoy beautiful photographs and profiles from inside the workshops of the world’s leading bicycle builders in The Elite Bicycle, now now available from your local bookstore or bike shop and from these online retailers.

Amazon – The Elite Bicycle

Barnes & Noble – The Elite Bicycle

Chapters/Indigo – The Elite Bicycle

IndieBound – The Elite Bicycle

VeloGear – The Elite Bicycle