Friday, April 20, 2012

Quiros City Bike: a Boston Classic

Quiros City Bike
Co-Habitant's friend Erik recently had a frame made by local builder Armando Quiros. I watched the bike being assembled and had the chance to photograph it upon completion. This bike is interesting to me, in that it epitomises the Boston aesthetic of making transportation bicycles with tight, aggressive geometry, yet upright positioning and accessorised for the city. In fact Armando calls this a "city track commuter." It is also interesting, because increasingly I enjoy looking at fillet-brazed frames and this one is a nice example. 

Quiros City Bike
One of the young new names that have become prominent over the past couple of years, Quiros Custom Frames are based in Natick, MA and offer a variety of lugged and fillet brazed options. 

Lars Anderson Bicycle Show, Trophy Winners
I met Armando a few years back, when Royal H. and Icarus still had their studios in Somerville, and all sorts of interesting bikey people would stop by that part of town. Later I snapped this photo of him receiving a trophy at the Larz Anderson show, where one of his bicycles won an award. Not bad!

Quiros City Bike
Quiros frames can be recognised by the prominent gothic headbadge

Quiros City Bike
and by the "787" painted above the bottom bracket - the area code for Puerto Rico.

Quiros City Bike
Erik's frame is fillet brazed, using Columbus tubing.

Quiros City Bike
What I like about this method is the seamless, almost liquid look to the construction. The brazed sloping fork crown goes nicely with this. 

Quiros City Bike
The British Racing Green paint, silver components, hammered fenders and caramel-brown accessories create a classic, distinguished aesthetic. At the same time, the narrow riser bars and track geometry give the bike a contemporary "fixie" look. It's an interesting and somewhat unexpected combination. Looking at the bike, my mind's eye keeps trying to either replace the cork grips with hot pink rubber ones, or else change the bars to North Roads. But I think the marriage of styles is ultimately what makes this bicycle unique to the owner.

Quiros City Bike
The bicycle is built up with a Phil Wood hub wheelset, an IRD crankset, Tektro brakes, MKS Stream pedals, straight Thomson seatpost, Brooks saddle, and Honjo hammered fenders. Erik rides it as a fixed gear single speed.

Quiros City Bike
The idea behind building a city bike with track geometry is that it is quick handling and responsive in traffic. While personally I cannot handle the tight clearances on a bike like this, I understand the concept and this is certainly a successful execution of it. The bicycle looks very much at home on the streets of Cambridge, and the owner enjoys the ride. Many thanks to Erik and Armando for the opportunity to document this bicycle. More pictures here.

34 comments:

  1. your tidbit about the "Boston aesthetic" reminded me how, a couple of weekends back, I was coming home from another long ride on the ANT, and I had stopped by a restaurant for a late lunch. Parked outside the restaurant was an ancient and well used Fat Chance with a Carradice Camper Longflap that looked like it could have some stories to tell. I left my bike against the wall alongside it, and went in.

    I sat in the restaurant and while waiting for my order, the Fat Chance's owner had gone outside to get something from his bike, saw mine and then came back in to ask me if that was my bike. I nodded, and he said, "you know that my --?"

    "-- your bike is like a grandparent of mine? Same family tree, earlier generation?"

    We wound up spending the next half hour nerding out on bike history, tracing the way various Fat City employees went on to start new companies that had, themselves nurtured another generation of builders.

    I don't know if I totally buy into the idea that Boston's builders have a conscious aesthetic; but it is interesting to trace commonalities and recognize signature bits of everyone's style.

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    1. I love the Boston framebuilders' family tree, and am also used to thinking of bike X as a "grandparent" or "cousin" of Bike Y. Funny!

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  2. Very nice bike! Fillet brazing well executed is very lovely.

    In my mind smooth fenders would better match the smooth lines. As you say, this is owner preference, and the owner has sorted out a very nice ride.

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  3. A bike after my own heart. Simple, clean, minimalist, and elegant. Oh, and love the tight, responsive geometry for commuting.

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  4. That bike looks pretty close to what I want--at least framewise--on my next ride. I want to use the SA two speed kickback hub instead of fixed and add a rack--and possibly flipped North roads--but otherwise pretty close.

    If that bike rides as nice as it looks, and I'm sure it does, I'm rather jealous of Erik.

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  5. MKS Stream and Honjos.

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  6. That's a gorgeous bicycle,indeed! I too love the seemless look of fillet brazed frames,and have owned a couple over the years (not lately enough) :)

    The Disabled Cyclist

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  7. Curious choice in fenders--a long front fender unsupported by either a front rack or a second fender stay usually flaps around. When in aluminum, they have a tendency to crack.

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    1. Don't know about this build, but I have seen some buiders (want to say Signal, maybe it was Curt Goodrich or maybe someone else) attach a flat bar to the fork crown center bolt and then run underneath the fender to support the front end.

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  8. "While personally I cannot handle the tight clearances on a bike like this........"

    I,too, have a bike that is so quick in it's handling I no longer can ride it. Used to be a ton of fun when I was younger and had the reflexes of a gunfighter but not today. :^( Today I have the reflexes of a turtle! :^()

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    1. It's not the handling that would be challenging for me, but literally the tight clearances. A lot of toe overlap in the front, and very short chainstays (would make carrying panniers difficult).

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  9. Love this bike! The reason I love it, my own bike is like this, an '86 Miyata 710, which is a tight, stiff 50cm, with an upright setup, North Road bars, single-speed freewheel.

    Recently my wife & I spent the day on the Galveston seawall, a wide promenade from the early 1900's. She likes to walk, and I like to ride, I rode slowly beside at her pace. With tons of other walkers, joggers, & riders, the tight geometry allowed me to almost "track stand" beside her, and avoid problems with the other traffic.

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  10. I love that head badge. But is that a dynohub, what't it powering?

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    1. Nope, regular hub. Phil Wood.

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    2. Things must be nice on your street if a Phil Wood is a 'regular hub'!

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    3. My fault. Still, a gorgeous badge for a beautiful bike.

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  11. He did a really nice job with the fork crown, often a weak spot in the design of lugless frames.

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    1. Yes! That is my favourite part. I understand the fork crown is something like this one. Love love love.

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    2. Agreed. Here is a Cinelli crown on my Kellogg:

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/57976152@N07/5462717709/in/photostream

      The Quiros is definite Cinelli style and definitely lovely.

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  12. My eyes are drawn to what looks like some serious toe overlap.

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  13. I agree with others in that it seems this isn't an aesthetic particular to Boston. It's everywhere in the west as well -- Ira Ryan comes to mind. East or west, this is a beauty and looks like a fun ride. And oh, that lovely craftsmanship!

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  14. Maybe it's the colour that makes the whole thing look extra Bostonian to me. There are lots of vintage green 3-speeds here and it's kind of characteristic of the area. This bike evokes that and also has the fixie/track bike thing going on.

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    1. It coud also easily be a London bike

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    2. I don't know... To me there is something distinctly local about it. But I probably can't be objective at this point!

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    3. In its general outlines it looks like a bike that one could find in many American cities, but the way the elements are arranged seems particular to Boston. One would not find that color frame with those bars, those grips, and those fenders on a bike in New York, San Francisco, LA, Portland, or Seattle, for example. It definitely has a vibe that is not characteristic of those places, at least as I have experienced them. Basically, it looks like an Irish redhead, of which I imagine there are many in Boston. And the honey colors resonate with all of Boston's brick and the frame with its greenery. It is a Boston bike, no doubt. Velouria knows what she is talking about.

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    4. British Racing Green is a common color these days, especially popular amongst certain urban types. Seen it a variety of cities as I travel about and gander at bikes locked up outside all sorts of places. I do love the Irish redhead analogy, though, maybe that explains it :)

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  15. Interesting ride. I'd like to get some closer looks at the brazing. One quibble: those bars are risers, not "straight".

    Keep up the good work.
    -rob aka screech

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  16. North Roads would kill this bike :) Those bars are perfect.

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  17. I'm happy to see something like this coming directly from the builder. It answers a question you've asked before, namely, does a practical bike have to be heavy and/or ponderous? The answer is "no". There's a demand for exactly this style of bike, as this thread from Bikeforums shows:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/286515-Showoff-Your-Townies

    This also goes to something else you've asked about, namely, why do people spend money to put Brooks saddles and so forth onto inexpensive bikes? At least where bikes like the Kilo TT and similar models available on BikesDirect are concerned, the answer is, they're going for something exactly like the Quiros - something with the clean and classic look of a vintage Raleigh or Schwinn, but with less weight.

    Mind you, racy three speeds of this kind have reared their heads as well:

    http://www.traitorcycles.com/Bikes_Luggernaut3spd.cfm?Token={ts_2012-04-20_19:26:44}-38818677

    and reviewed here:

    http://www.thewashingmachinepost.net/traitor/review.html

    This had been done before, in spectacular fashion, by Schwinn. Note the rack, and the location of the S-A trigger shift:

    http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php/689449-1959-Schwinn-Paramount-3-speed

    And, in riser bar form, Cooper has this:

    http://www.cooperbikes.com/bikes/2/Zandvoort

    I think Armando's tapped into something significant, and I hope he sells a ton of bikes. Have any of his customers mounted an S-A 3-speed yet?

    Sorry for the length of this post! I really enjoy reading your blog. Now I'll go back to contemplating the conversion of my Windsor Timeline to a townie/roadster.

    Rudy

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  18. I recently sold a bunch of nice tooling to Armando and he should now be able to deliver some quality work in a timely manor (should someone want to place an order now ;)

    antbikemike

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  19. I ride a Charge Mixer that has a tight geometry, but possibly not as tight as that lovely Qiuros, and manage with my big size 12 (UK) feet and Carradice rear panniers. If you set your rear rack and panniers as far back as possible it's fine. And toe overlap is just a matter of practice and the occasional "Boing!" when you catch the front mudguard/fender. Give it a go Velouria?!

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