Monday, February 20, 2012

A JP Weigle Classic

JP Weigle Touring Bike
A week or so ago, I came across a picture of a beautiful J.P. Weigle bicycle that got my attention because of its small size - "small enough for me to try!" was of course my immediate thought. And that is when I noticed something else: The location of the photo looked familiar... Could it be? Good Lord, this bike was in Boston! Turns out the owner (Mark) was not only local, but "wicked local" - his woodworking studio is 10 minutes away from my art studio. A visit was swiftly arranged and soon I was swooning over this bike in person.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
Connectictut-based J.P. Weigle is a legendary framebuilder best known today for his exquisite randonneuring bicycles.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
With a multiple year waiting list and prices to match the builder's status, Weigle bikes don't exactly grow on trees. I was extremely excited to see this one.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
Based on the aesthetics I had assumed this was a recently made low trail 650B randonneur. But in fact the frame was built in 1982 as a sports-touring bike with 700C wheels, narrow tires and mid-trail geometry. This bike has an interesting, bitter-sweet history. It was made as a birthday gift for Mark's father - who at that point was in his 70s. Shortly before he passed away, he gave the bicycle to his son. Prior to this Mark had not been especially interested in cycling, but inheriting the bicycle drew him in. The bike was comfortable, fast, beautiful, and served as a tangible reminder of his father. 

JP Weigle Touring Bike
Over time Mark rode the bike more and more, eventually getting the frame repainted and updating the components. The current set-up is comfortable and racy in equal measure - reflecting the owner's enjoyment of spirited cycling, as well as his preference to ride in everyday clothing.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
As I examined the bicycle, it was overwhelming to realise that the frame was 30 years old - a testament to the builder's commitment and consistency.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
The lugwork, the craftsmanship and the overall aesthetic are impressive. 

JP Weigle Touring Bike
There is a crispness, precision and sense of harmony to everything that is just right. 

JP Weigle Touring Bike
And this is carried through in everything from the lugwork to the colour scheme and decals.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
Mark's choice of components enhances the elegance of the frame further still.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
A harmonious, personal, functional and beautiful build.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
Being a custom frame, the proportions were made to suit the original owner - who was of short stature with a long torso. Mark's proportions are similar, though perhaps he is a bit taller. Having quickly measured the frame, the figures I got are 50cm x 54cm, which makes sense given how this bicycle felt to me. With the saddle set back and the handlebars considerably lower than the saddle, I was leaning forward much more than I normally would.

Riding a Peter Weigle Bicycle!
To say that I test rode this bicycle would be to overstate the fact. I rode it up a gentle hill, circled around a pothole-ridden parking lot, then rode it back downhill. Mark's saddle height was just right for me. The brakes were difficult for my hands to squeeze, but doable. The downtube shifters I did not even try, not that I needed them for the duration of this ride. The ride felt great over potholes, very easy uphill, and stable downhill. The tires felt much more cushy than 23mm, which was interesting. The bike did not have toe overlap with the 23mm tires and fenders. Though I would need to make some adjustments before I could confidently take this bicycle on a proper test ride, I can certainly see why the owner enjoys it so much.

JP Weigle Touring Bike
It is not every day that one gets to see, let alone ride a 30-year-old J.P. Weigle that has been passed on from father to son, and once again I feel extremely lucky to live in a region where such a thing is within the realm of possibilities. I enjoyed meeting Mark, the bicycle's owner, who is an interesting person and makes some beautiful chairs I now crave. Some day I hope to meet Mr. Weigle and talk to him about his work, which I have great respect for. More pictures of this bike here!

41 comments:

  1. JPW is a true master. He has a level of craftsmanship that really is a cut above. I enjoy seeing the pictures of his process that he regularly uploads to flickr. That is a builder who really does put in 110%. You see some of the teeny little details that he'll spend days working on, that most people wouldn't even notice.

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  2. Sweet and beautiful bike. The color and looks reminds me of my Miyata, especially with the downtube shifters. Excuse my ignorance, but I was wondering what the round shiny thing is in the second photo at top. I appears to be a mirror but that can't possibly be correct because of its location. Thank you for sharing this lovely machine.

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    1. It's a bell. There's a better picture of it in her Flickr stream.

      Absolutely love this bike!

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    2. Ha yes it is a bell, attached to the stem with a bracket. The bike's owner bought it from VO.

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  3. Beautiful color on that bike! VERY, VERY lovely chairs (I say this as the child of a once very famous woodworker, now retired). Likes me those chairs.

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  4. Love those chairs as well, is that arts & crafts style?

    Barb

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  5. Beautiful bike - so well made. Kudos for the colour choice too, it's perfect.

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  6. 1982! I've heard of Peter Weigle, but did not know he's been making frames for that long. Marks' bike is gorgeous. And thank you for sharing its very personal history.

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    1. It surprised me to learn this frame's year of manufacture as well. I knew that he's been making frames for a long time, but for some reason I thought the earlier ones were racing bikes only - or at least did not look so similar to his current bikes.

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  7. I'd like to point out that as soon as you add the English suffix "-ing" to the French "randonneur", the word becomes and English word and is no longer deserving of italics. We use the word "randonneur" in a specific sense and I think it's time for velophilic anglophones to take ownership of the word. Your modification of the word to "randonneuring" is proof that it is no more French or less English than "café", "entrepreneur" or "association".

    Word geekery aside, I love that bike. Beautiful colour.

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    1. Fixed. Though if you are a stickler for languages, isn't "I'd like to point out..." considered a faux pas of some sort? I mean, you're actually pointing it out, not just expressing interest in pointing it out. I remember my writing professor ranting about this.

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    2. Could be worse, Ben. She could have written "audaxing" or something equally linguistically, um, audaxacious.

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    3. I'd like to take this opportunity to express an interest in cursing my hyper-passive Canadian English, if it's okay with you.

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  8. I'd like to point out that some randonneuring cyclists insist on referring to the bicycles they use for randonnées as "randoneusses" and I disagree with that feminine usage. Their argument is that the French word for bicycle is "bicyclette," but that's baby-talk. Adults ride a "velo," which is a masculine word, and thus a bike for randonneuring is a randonneur, however a female cyclist who is randonneuring is a randonneuse riding a randonneur.

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    1. I'd like to note that I agree with your reasoning.

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    2. The French also refer to a bike as "la petite reine "...Couldn't be any more feminine than that !

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  9. Peter Weigle is an extremely nice guy with absolutely zero attitude. He's the antithesis of the increasingly all too common frame builder snobs. I couldn't say enough nice things about him, and his bikes.

    I went a bit crazy photographing his bikes (and Peter, including while cycling) at the Cirque du Cyclisme in 2004 and 2005. Here are links to my slideshows:

    http://www.adventurecorps.com/chronicles/2005/2005cirque1/index.html

    and

    http://www.adventurecorps.com/chronicles/2004/2004cirque01/index.htm

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    1. Great pictures. Would love to go to Cirque du Cyclisme!

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  10. OMG!!!!

    Beware the vintage bike!

    Beware the down tube shift levers!

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    1. True they have been known to be contagious, but I am sure V took all the necessary precautions and kept her own bike at a safe distance.

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  11. I loved this post. That is a very nice bicycle. For thirty years old it is holding up well, I did notice a few bits of rust in the paint here and there. hard to stop with a steel frame. But a compliment to the crisp photography!

    Down tube shifters are a treat. In my day racing that's all we had. It was hard to go for the line or try to take a hill with a jump because you had to reach down to shift.



    Nowadays its a flick of the wrist and gone.

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    1. With DT shifters I think it is a matter of taste. I know those who love them, and I know those who hated them even in the '70s and couldn't switch to integrated shifters fast enough. Whatever floats your boat.

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    2. I have down-tube shifters on most of my bikes, even on my fixed-gear 3-speed (technically that's a fixed wheel). I have bar-ends on a few bikes, too. Will never have "brifters." I love the simple action, and minimalist appearance of D/T shifters. (Keeps stuff off my handlebars, too! ;-)

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    3. Another fan of down tube shifters....Simple, elegant, and functional. I don't know what I'd do if I had to repair a brifter while on the road.

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  12. Peter fluted and polished the Stronglight crankset and drilled and polished the Campy hub shells on my Kellogg / Spectrum 30th Anniversary.

    Both times I just happened to be looking at his Flickr about 10 minutes after he posted them for sale.

    Just being able to get something from the master to put on my Kellogg (and Tom is no slouch when it comes to building bikes either) was amazing. But Peter sent me a nice Campy sticker gratis with the hubs and remembered me a few months later when I bought the crank.

    There are a lot of good people in the bike business. Peter is one of the best.

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  13. I'm loving this bike. I'm sure that the builder and especially the owner are very proud of it. I've admired JPW's frames ever since I saw the IceCycle on MOMBAT's site. http://mombat.org/MOMBAT/Bikes/1983_Weigle_IceCycle.html If you have the time and inclination, you can see at least one other more traditional (lugged!) JPW mtb on the site.

    I've been using JPW FrameSaver since before I knew who he was or what he does. A "must" for anyone with a steel frame. I"m glad this guy is still building, even if I'll likely never be able to afford one of his frames.
    Thanks for sharing.
    -rob

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  14. Too many things are called "classic". But a JPW frame deserves that honor. The best things about great bikes, though, is the great stories that go with them. And you experienced both. Nice post!

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  15. I'd like to point out that JPW builds fine bicycles. Someday I'd love for him to build a randonneuse for me. Yes, that's right...a randonneuse:

    http://parisbrestparis2007.actifforum.com/t306-velo-randonneur-ou-randonneuse

    -t

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  16. Lovely bike, I am especially impressed that the paint-job has held up so well.

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  17. What seatpost is installed on this bike? I like the way it tapers. Actually, all the component choices on this bike are nicely done.

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    1. It is a Campagnolo seatpost, but I do not remember the model or year. Will ask Mark.

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    2. Shape is similar to the Campagnolo Athena - maybe from the '90s?

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  18. Beautiful; I'd like to thank you for sharing.

    ... In fact, I will! Thank you!

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  19. V-Since you're quite the professional photog and take such lovely photos of bicycles and the folks that ride them, have you considered producing a book ?

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    1. Thanks. Trouble is these projects are very time consuming and I already have too much going on. But maybe in a few years, especially as my collection of interesting bike photos grows.

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  20. I had the pleasure of meeting Peter Weigle this past fall at his shop open house. I agree with the above comments of those who've met him: very warm and friendly, without any of the attitude that would be expected of someone of his stature in the field.

    While I was there, I took some photos, you can see them all in this set (which includes some Alex Singers and Rene Herses!):

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7516215@N03/sets/72157627830542989/

    When I asked Peter how long his wait list is, he replied "too long".

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    1. I heard the waiting list was something absurd, like 7 years, but that can't possibly be right.

      "Framebuilders with Attitude" sounds like a name of a future reality show...

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    2. I don't doubt that number-- I met someone on the "inside track" who still has a couple of years' wait to endure.

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  21. Just as interesting as this beautiful bike was its original owner, Mark’s father, John. John had a lifelong passion with cycling and made strong contributions in helping many others to acquire the same. I feel so privileged to have been good friends. Nice to see that through his J. P. Weigle bicycle the passion still rolls on.

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