Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Art of Exuberant Subtlety

JP Weigle Randonneur
Squinting in the harsh mid-day light and holding my breath, I rolled this rare machine I had been entrusted with across the grassy clearing. I leaned it against a tree. I arranged it amidst some flowers. I positioned it this way and that, in the sunshine and in shadow. With the camera to my eye, I crouched, I kneeled, I loomed, I stepped back. And yet, the bicycle refused to draw attention to itself. It was as if in his quest to achieve harmony - a harmony of proportion, colour and form - the builder had gone one step too far. So harmonious was this bicycle, so perfectly at home in these woods on this beautiful spring day, that it was in fact part of the scenery. 

JP Weigle Randonneur
To appreciate a JP Weigle, one must appreciate this level of subtlety. There is no Weigle website. Just some flickr pictures, minimal publicity, word of mouth, and one of the longest wait lists in the business. Because to those in the know, the builder's name is synonymous with randonneuring machines in the classic French tradition, made to the highest standards. Today this style of bike is not as rare - and, by extension, not as striking - as it was just a few years ago. There are fewer heated debates about its low trail geometry and 650B tires. There are also fewer oohs and aahs about its integrated fenders, racks, lighting, handlebar bags and other iconic features. But a Weigle machine is not so much about these things in themselves, as it is about how they are done. They say that Weigle is the master of the thinned lug, of the French-curve fork blade, of the sculptural, minimalist front rack, of the near-invisible internal wiring, of the perfectly installed fenders. Hardly anyone uses the word "beautiful" to describe his work, although it is assumed. The words used are: meticulous, impeccable, flawless. It is by design that no part of a Weigle calls attention to itself. 

JP Weigle Workshop
In his rural Connecticut workshop, JP (Peter) Weigle has a presence that is as quietly compelling as one of his creations. Dressed in gray on gray and of serene disposition, he is easy to miss in a room full of colourful jerseys and animated conversation. "But where is Peter?" visitors ask. Eventually he is spotted, in a corner, speaking in a muted yet impassioned tone as he points to some tiny detail on either his own frame or a vintage one in his custody. On my visit I was treated to a Jo Routens, stripped of paint, its brazed joints exposed to be studied. And beside it was the yet-unpainted bike I was trying to photograph now - nearly ready. 

JP Weigle Workshop
The future owner, Elton (second from the left), left the paint colour up to Peter, confident that whatever the builder chose would be right for the bike.

JP Weigle Randonneur
The racing green frame with nickel-plated fork blades and stays is a congruent combination of darks and lights, of matte and reflective surfaces.  

JP Weigle Randonneur
The embellishments - such as the lug cutouts filled with tiny bursts of red and the golden box lining - are noticeable only on close inspection, but are so numerous and discreet that one could spend hours looking over the bike and still miss some.

JP Weigle Randonneur
The lugs are thinned out to such an extent, that they are almost flush with the tubes. It is difficult to get their intricate shorelines to show up on camera. No doubt it is to highlight this aspect of the construction that lug outlining has been omitted. 

JP Weigle Randonneur
In addition to the frame and fork, Peter made the canti-mount front rack

JP Weigle Randonneur
which features a left-side light mount extension 

JP Weigle Randonneur
and sits low and stable on the bike, the platform secured to the front fender.

JP Weigle Randonneur
He also made the rear rack, 

JP Weigle Randonneur
which attaches both at the dropouts and at the canti bosses.

JP Weigle Randonneur
The custom cable hanger and tail light are also his own work, as is the reworked ("Special OH-HEC") pump - poorly pictured here, but lovely.

JP Weigle Randonneur
The internally routed dynamo-powered lighting was set up in collaboration with AT Électricalités - aka "Somervillain," who now moonlights as a bike electrician of renown skill. He explains how he set up the lighting step by step here. Examining the bike in person, the entry and exit points of the wiring are extremely difficult to spot even if you know where they are. 

JP Weigle Randonneur
The rest of the build the owner put together himself. It included a Grand Bois stem and decaleur,

JP Weigle Randonneur
modern Rene Herse crankset,

JP Weigle Randonneur
Shimano Dura Ace rear derailleur and cassette,

JP Weigle Randonneur
9-speed Campagnolo ergo shifters,

JP Weigle Randonneur
vintage Mafac brakes

JP Weigle Randonneur
Handbuilt wheels around Pacenti rims, with a Chris King hub in the rear and a Schmidt SON dynamo hub in the front, and of course Grand Bois Hetre (extra leger!) 650Bx42mm tires,

JP Weigle Randonneur
Gilles Berthoud touring saddle,

JP Weigle Randonneur
Berthoud handlebar bag,

JP Weigle Randonneur
and long coverage Honjo fenders, which Peter Weigle installed using his own special method prior to Elton doing the rest of the build.

JP Weigle Randonneur
The elegant Nitto bottle cages are a nice complement to the build,

JP Weigle Randonneur
as are the two-tone Crankbrothers pedals and Wippermann chain.  

JP Weigle Randonneur
Even after such a long description, there are many details I've missed. I need a clearer background and softer lighting to really do justice to it all. The curve of the brake bridge, the hidden lug cutouts, the pump peg, the delicate little braze-ons... this is a bike whose beauty "unfolds" the more closely you look at it. But standing there in a patch of woods, it makes you think about cycling rather than its own self. And Elton surely has plans to do some brevets on this beautiful machine this season. In the meantime he has been commuting on it to work.

JP Weigle Randonneur
Living in New England, I've been lucky enough to encounter a few Weigle bikes "in the wild" (for example, this one), made over the span of several decades. Like a number of other well known American builders, Peter Weigle got his start at Witcomb Cycles in London, UK in the early 1970s. And while today he is best known for his low trail randonneuring machines with 650B wheels, he did not begin working on such designs until 2005-2006. Before then there were Weigle racing bikes, mountain bikes, touring bikes - all showing the fashions of the times, yet also his distinct brand of elaborately subtle detail. I feel fortunate to have seen some of these bicycles and spoken to their owners. 

Peter Weigle's small workshop in the woods is neat and tidy when visitors appear. The builder's friends tease that he never allows anyone to watch him work, his technique being top secret. Whatever the secret is, the results continue to entice bicycle lovers to dream of his machines, whether admiring them from afar or putting their names on the years-long wait list. 

78 comments:

  1. The fork, stays and racks are nickel plated, not chromed. Also, Peter "reworked" the pump.

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    1. Right, I knew that - thanks.

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    2. There was even more customization by Peter: the MAFAC brakes were profiled and polished by Peter, and the rear fender reflector is a new Jitensha studios CNC machine unit also profiled and polished by Peter.

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    3. Peter also worked with SON to create a left-hand side connectorless dropout; I believe Schmidt were only making them for the drive-side, which would have made it impossible for a left-side headlight mount. Yet another unique touch on this bike.

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    4. Peter has an amazing ability to take components and make them his own.

      On my Spectrum I have an otherwise ordinary Stronglight crank which Peter took and fluted the edges in and out then polished. You could pay ten times as much for an NOS Campy Super Record and not have a better looking piece.

      The hubs on the same bike are early 1960s Gran Comps - the Nuevo Cheapos of the day. Peter drilled two holes between the large holes sanded the edges then polished them. Absolutely perfect.

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    5. Speaking of exuberant subtlety - just look what J.P. Weigle has made out of this Motobécane 50s city bike wreck: http://www.flickr.com/photos/49353569@N00/3153550921/in/set-72157605853852871 . For me, his level of refined craftsmanship shows best in the way he carefully restored the beaten-up paint, keeping as much of the original paint as possible.

      This ol' Motobécane seems to be Peters go-around bike, and the one bike he really - well, loves, at least judging from his picture captions, although he has a stable full of seemingly perfect J.P. Weigles ...

      I always come back to J.P. Weigles Flickr fotostream, not only to see the bikes he builds in the making, but also to watch him analyse and restore ancient machinery, finding solutions for problems and - of course - to catch the specific atmosphere of his workshop if only from the distance.

      But to be honest (and I guess Peter would not mind this if he read it), as I am located in Old Europe, my first choice for a high-level randonneuring bike would be an Alex Singer modèle "Américain": http://www.cycles-alex-singer.fr/catalogue/grand-tourisme.html . ;)

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    6. Wonderful!

      Put it this way: I am still recovering from French Fender Day last Fall. Seriously, it was so monumental I don't even know how to write about it yet.

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  2. This is clearly a fetishist's 'review'.

    In all my years reading about his bikes I've yet to run across one clear-eyed, honest take on how they ride.

    Now one more.

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    1. This is absolutely not a review, just a show and tell of a rare and interesting bike.

      I too would like to read an actual review of a Weigle.

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    2. BQ tested one of them: 2005 J. P. Weigle Randonneur (Vol. 4, No. 2). This was before my time so I don't know how it did. Probably well.

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    3. Unless the reviewer is very close to the same height and weight of the intended users and has similar riding preferences not sure where a clear-eyed honest (whatever that is supposed to mean) review of a high level custom is supposed to come from.

      No doubt Peter put as much thought and care in selecting the tubes, cutting the lengths, and placing the user interface points as he did with the brazing, lug work and painting. I do not know how close V and Elton are in height and body proportions, but from the photos he appears to be a good sized man, no doubt significantly heavier than V.

      An honest review of this bike from her would thus read along the lines: 'I really wanted to like this bike, but it appeared overly built and everything was out of reach.'

      As mentioned below, BQ did review a Weigle. As I recall Jan and the other rider who conducted the review were about the same size and weight as the owner. The review is thorough and very positive. Track it down.

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    4. This bike is too big for me to even mount, so a review was never in the cards.

      I do think it is possible to review high end custom bikes, though challenging.

      The BQ Weigle review from some years back cited here (and by Jan below) was informative. But I'd like to read one just as thorough from another source and of a more recent build.

      I am looking forward to J Ferguson getting his Weigle; I think that's our best bet for an unflinching review from an actual owner, who has experience with other high end customs as well - both in the same and in a different style.

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    5. Vs. a carbon bike too, like a Parlee.

      But I know how this movie ends.

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  3. Somewhere around '79 or '80 a guy stayed with us for a month or so while he was cycling across the country. He had an odd green bike, handmade in the UK, with funny hammered chrome fenders, leather saddle, Mavic cantilever brakes, and something called 650B wheels. Like the Weigle it was quite understated, just like the owner. It cool to ride but extremely low gearing and one got the feeling it was for someone spending long hours in the saddle as opposed to a quick sprint to work and back. Could have been a Jack Taylor but now I wonder.

    Anyway, this bike looks beautiful--like all his bikes--but years of waiting? Oh boy, that would be tough!

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    1. 650B wheels and made in the UK in the late 70s? Very curious!

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    2. No, not a Raleigh.

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    3. In looking up Jack Taylor, I'm thinking this was the maker b/c this green looks correct as do the decals but I don't recall chromed stays or fork ends but it was a long time ago....

      http://classicrendezvous.com/British_isles/Taylor_Jack/4646.htm

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    4. 650B - 584 was known in the UK as 26 x 1-1/2. Not common but definitely a known and recognized size.

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    5. The Raleigh Portage was made for only a couple of years in the mid-80s I think?

      That's a great JT link.

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    6. JT was a Frenchy bike in a lot of ways. The JT Rough Stuff was designed for 650B, many tandems were 650B.The big JT page and JT Registry is on Joel Metz's Blackbirds page. Then meauxtown and Bob Freeman at Elliot Bay Cycles have massive amounts of JT stuff on their flickr sites.

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  4. Indeed! I'm trying to rack my brains as to whether it had the trademark pin striping one often sees on old Jack Taylors. I just remember the uniform green and the fact that it didn't call attention to itself....Ah, but I now also recall Phil Wood hubs and TA cranks but up to that point I'd never heard of 650B wheels. Of course lots of 3speeds had 26x1.75 wheels and racing bikes came with 700c wheels but this was new to me.

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  5. How much did it cost? Or is it too precious to ask?

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    1. Rats, then I'll never know.

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    2. You know the saying, "If you need to ask, you can't afford it".

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    3. Yes that is a famous saying, but of course it's not always true.

      Some people who can afford a lot of things like to ask what things cost, some of them got rich that way.

      Does anyone else find it annoying how in an Apple store they don't list the price of the items on display? I can afford them, but I don't want to be put in the situation where I have to ask.

      One more question: can a bike be too perfect? I mean if it has the best frame, and all the best available components, it seems to have reached a state of perfection that is kind of...singular. Like someone tried too hard. Every other bike has one or more faults, but almost all of them work perfectly well.


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    4. I don't like that saying to be honest. You should always be able to ask.

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  6. Your opening statement kinda expresses my feelings--I would be too afraid to ride this bike! It's more the kind of thing I would enjoy looking at rather putting it through my daily, sloppy, pedestrian kind of riding:)

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  7. Beautiful! Weigle's bicycles are gorgeous, would like to have one of his mixtes(I've got the parts for it), but I guess I'd have to contact him directly if I ever had the money. His racks are gorgeous, wonder if he makes them by order, some other custom builders will not make racks on demand. I love his flickr page, and like that he does bicycle restorations as well.
    Somervillain has such nice bikes!
    Raleigh made a 650b bike in the 70's and 80's, probably the portage, Jack Talyor bicycles were influenced by french bikes, so there would have been other uk builders making constricteur rando bikes at the time.

    Did the populaire go ahead?

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    1. Have you seen this mixte? Alas it was sold before I had a chance to test ride it.

      Yeah, I do not think he makes racks unless they are bundled with his own frames.

      The Populaire was postponed for next Saturday.

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    2. The populaire was postponed basically because if they were still on the manhunt by Saturday morning, we didn't want to get in trouble for loitering around Hanscom during a major security activity like that and then not be able to use it as a starting location anymore.
      The ride has been rescheduled for next week, same time same station. The rest of the schedule for the season remains unchanged. More details at www.nerandonneurs.org

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    3. A bunch of people, myself and some friends included, ended up doing the populaire route anyway, since not everyone can work the postponed "official" ride into their schedules. We ended up meeting some others along the way who were also doing the route. I hope I can apply my paid registration fee toward any future NER ride.

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    4. I saw the somervillian heading out of town in a very light rain, with lights on. The Shogun looks nice as did the Rawland(?) his companion rode.

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    5. NEB, if you saw me with just one other person, that was N, on his red Masi (cross bike or touring bike, not sure). Nicely fendered.

      If you saw me with a group later on, it included J with his light blue Rawland.

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    6. Somerville in - you were on Holland on your way out, with one other person so it wasn't the Rawland. I would have introduced myself but you were chatting and I had two boys eager for pancakes at Renee's.

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  8. Wow, I absolutely love that beautiful bike including the color! If only it were a 52cm frame...

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  9. At Bicycle Quarterly, we did a full test of Peter Weigle's very first low-trail randonneur bike, then still made with 700C tires. The bike can be seen here

    http://www.bikequarterly.com/images/Weiglefull.jpg

    and it rode as well as it looked. I've ridden some 650B Weigles for short distances since then, and the newer bikes ride (and look) even better.

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  10. Kind of a general question here, but what are your thoughts on choosing between a Boulder Bikes Rene Herse and a Weigle?

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    1. Bearing in mind that I have never even seen a modern Herse bike and have never test ridden either (well, I've ridden an older Weigle, but only briefly), a couple of things come to mind:

      . I believe the turnaround for a Rene Herse is considerably faster
      . With a Weigle, you would be dealing with the builder directly

      Otherwise, no idea. There is a cyclist in upstate NY who owns a Herse and is also expecting a Weigle, could be a good source for firsthand insight.

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  11. Peter Weigle repainted my brevet bike, which is a 1974 Raleigh Pro. He did a very nice job and even though I've scratched up the paint a bit since, it still looks nice and I get lots of compliments... (and more than a few people who would never have guessed it wasn't original!)
    When I dropped it off I visited his shop, which was great fun. He's an interesting guy, and his bikes are really gorgeous.

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  12. Peter is partly responsible for my coveting another Raleigh Competition. The original one I bought in High School is long gone (and wrecked in a cat 4 Criterium/Demolition Derby by the next guy anyway) but every time I see the photos of the ones on his site I get all covetous and irrational. I picked up another DL1 today from a guy in Richmond who also has an almost perfect 79 Competition G.S. that he was originally going to sell me but changed his mind about. To be in the garage with it was SO frustrating. Such a lovely old thing, so nice to ride and before he changed his mind I had already taken it for my own in my heart. As people like Emily can tell you, the charm of those bikes isn't all nostalgia, even without a Weigle paintjob.

    The flicker pics of the one Somervillain restored a couple of years ago were torture to look at and the Weigle conversions of them are just about unbearable.

    Spindizzy

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    1. Hey Spindizzy,


      it's worse than you think...:


      At The Lighthouse

      I can't imagine what a 650b conversion of this bike would be like. I'll have to get another if I want to find out- this one is far too much of a thoroughbred as it is.

      Looking at Weigle's Flickr sets is like entering a dream state.
      The box lining on the featured bike is beautifully proportioned. There's a local Herse Mixte that is not as well done.

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    2. Spin,

      The later Competition GS model is an entirely different beast from the early Competition. 74 parallel geo, high trail and tight clearances, it's pure racing bike. The older Comps have geometries that make it more amenable to 650B "rando-ization".

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    3. I am curious whether Peter re-rakes the Raleigh forks on his conversions.

      I got my hands on an old Competition and did an ad-hoc Weigle style 650b conversion. It rode well without load but did not like much weight in the front.

      Gave it to my nephew who uses it as his commuter wearing a back pack.

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    4. Somervillain, I knew the G.S.s weren't quite the same as the earlier Comps but for some reason I thought they were sort of midway between that and the Raleigh Professional as far as the geometry and clearances. My old Raleigh G.S. just had room for fenders and 28s where as my slightly later Raleigh Carlton Race frame(not a Professional)was too tight for fenders at all. I do know it was the BEST bike in the WHOLE world and that I never broke a sweat on it and RODE LIKE THE WIND!!!

      If I hadn't seen the one in Richmond I would have just assumed I was remembering it through a rose colored brain but HAVING seen it in it's resplendent glory I want it, I want it, I want it. I won't break into his house to get it but I will also never forgive him for changing his mind.

      So, uh,Corey, you wouldn't wanna sell tha.....

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  13. Seriously. If I wanted to get one how much should I expect to pay? Please. I would like to know how much a bike like the one above would cost.

    Thanks.

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    1. Yeah but does that include all the special work, like the wiring? I mean this bike looks to have the best wiring of any bike ever made. In fact the average person couldn't even buy this bike if they wanted, so I guess it is priceless.

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    2. There are plenty of builders out there who take orders and get the job done who build at Weigle's level and do it at a price you can afford if you can even think about a Weigle.
      Fetishizing the work of a small handful of overly publicized builders creates all sorts of silly distortions.

      Off the top of my head try Jack Trumbull at Franklin Frames. Builds anything, dean of American builders IMO.

      If thinned lugs is what you want Chris Kvale. Don't know if he takes on randos, you could ask.

      For final ultimate perfection Columbine Cycles. Basically you're buying jeweler's art and the price is realistic.

      I think Winter Bicycles has a waiting list now but they do take orders.

      I could go on. Then there are all the constructeur bikes that die on ebay, selling for a small fraction of their value because they are Rene Andre instead of Rene Herse. If you are patient you will find never ridden frames or bikes in your size with all the features you're looking for and you can buy them for peanuts. If you are looking for the work of one and only one builder and everyone else wants that builder too you could wait a long time for a bike.

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    3. Jim's estimate sounds plausible for a rando frameset (+maybe racks) from a maker like Weigle. I will ask the builder for a quote on Monday, and will follow up here.

      But what makes this bike unattainable is not just the price, but also the wait. I forget how long it is at this point exactly, but almost certainly over 5 years. Possibly 7, maybe even 10.

      Given the price and wait together, even in the world of custom handmade bicycles a Weigle is an anomaly. Few of us would seriously consider purchasing such a bike, which is why I did not bother discussing price. If someone seriously wants a Weigle, chances are that neither the price nor the wait matter.

      Anon 4:45pm names some wonderful builders. For those who want to go custom and also receive that custom to ride it while they're still young, it certainly makes sense to go with one of them. For a 650B low trail yadda yadda build, Winter seems to be an especially good candidate.

      Which is not to say that JP Weigle's work is not worth studying and admiring for what it is.

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    4. "does that include all the special work, like the wiring? I mean this bike looks to have the best wiring of any bike ever made"

      FWIW Somervillain has done that wiring on a number of bikes, including some of his personal vintage refurbs. You do not need to buy a Weigle to get the special AT Électricalités treatment. Those seriously interested can get in touch with him and ask for details.

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    5. I think any custom bike these days one should expect to spend at least five grand. If your list of options or extras or fetishes is greater than average, start putting those pennies in the piggy bank! I speak from experience and I totally adore the bike I'm now riding which, btw, I had to wait a year for but was worth it.....Ten years?? No.

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    6. One might reconsider the wait if one had always wanted a Mariposa and didn't pull the trigger.

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    7. I bought some parts from Mariposa at the end and was really struck by the missed opportunity.

      Along with Eric Estlund (Winter) for excellent Rando lug work and racks Johnny Coast is certainly worth considering. Peter has painted at least one Coast.

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  14. Magnificent bicycle!

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  15. Modern superstardom in any field--music, art, bicycle building--is a curious thing, often dependent on many factors coming together other than just raw talent.

    Curious that Mr. Weigle would have an ad in Bicycle Quarterly if he has a 10-year waiting period. I guess it could be partly in support of the magazine and partly to keep brand awareness.

    I'm expecting a bike built by a master builder to arrive in June. I like his somewhat under the radar reputation, and his prices are beyond reasonable. But even with all that, and the fact that I ride a lot, it does seem a bit decadent, this custom thing. Fetish is a good word at this end of the scale.

    A beautiful machine by a master craftsman.

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    1. It might not be quite as long as 10 years. I'll get an actual quote. About the same deal as a Richard Sachs wait though.

      But in addition to fully custom frames, Peter modifies vintage bikes and sells them ready made; he also sells prototypes and various experimental bikes. So it's possible to get a Weigle or a Weigle-mod without a wait if you follow Peter's flickr and keep an eye on what he is working on, it just won't be a custom bike built to your specs.

      The decadence thing... My problem with that line of thinking is its exclusion of the framebuilder from the equation. It's like we have this double standard, praising framebuilders and talking about how they deserve to make a decent living, while being critical of those who support them. Strikes me as incongruous.

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    2. It seems the decadence often isn't with the making of the frame so much as the extra touches or components added onto the bike. The costs increase quickly, often doubling the cost of the frame. Getting something to fit and work for your intended use is is not decadent, it's smart. As for incongruous....well, thank you for pointing out our flaws :)

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    3. I wouldn't blink at a $5K asking price for an internationally known painter or photographer's work (assuming I had the money to buy that sort of thing.) With a craftsperson's work however, we somehow imbue it with decadence because it is possible to purchase a functional if lower quality replacement at much lower cost.

      This discussion does reinforce for me how much we all have become divorced from any routine dealings with craftspeople. The notion of a handmade item, designed for one specific person has generally become so uniquely the purview of the very rich that I think many of us mere mortals feel guilt when we pay a bit more for something crafted rather than manufactured. Why is a $5K Trek Madone simply expensive, while a $5K custom bike decadent?

      (Not to harp on M's comment or phrasing, it's an attitude I catch in myself as well.)

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    4. Flaws?

      Incongruity is that charming human trait that makes us so darn fascinating : )

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    5. My reference to decadence is two-fold: having an item created specifically tailored to my wants, when I have perfectly serviceable vintage machines, and our general societal preoccupation with ownership of non-essential objects that infer a status of one sort or another on the owner.

      Any guilt I feel about getting a custom mostly results from the first reason above. (Realistically, almost everybody can find, maybe with some modifications, a relatively inexpensive bicycle that they can enjoy.) I would also feel decadent spending many thousands on a state of the art production carbon frame. This is the decadence of living in an empire with 5% of the world population using 25% of the world's resources.

      V wrote: "The decadence thing... My problem with that line of thinking is its exclusion of the framebuilder from the equation."

      The idea of how we ascribe values to things, craft vs. art, etc. is a whole other subject. But if you compare a framebuilder to, say, a farrier blacksmith back in the day, no reasonable person would wait 10 years to have their horse shod, nor would they expect to pay much more than what the blacksmith in the next village charges. Until craft gets back to that level (and I believe it will at some point--see James Kunstler and A World Made By Hand ), it will remain "artisanal" in the modern sense, with vague overtones of requiring a certain income level to imbibe.


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    6. My main bike now is 50 years old. The builder was a legend. The bike works perfectly. I can keep up riding this bike. A hundred world champions rode the marque. I take my bike out where I see the gang on Parlees and Sevens play and my bike is sneered at.

      Not long ago this was a workingclass sport. Now it's a country club sport. If you look like you might ever set foot on a public golf course you're not welcome. Riders used to mostly just have one good bike. That one good bike you bought from the builder or from the shopowner. Those two knew you'd worked hard for the money and they would never do otherwise than steer you straight.

      If you'd been around a while you might have two or three bikes. More than that you were a pack rat. Or some of them didn't work. Or you were only hanging on to them until you gave them away to someone new or young. A lot of bikes were just given away.

      If you liked to ride bike and you pushed the pedals with a will you were a rider and that was that. Now you need a bike with some mysterious cachet certified in the blogosphere. Guys who otherwise collect Porsches and yachts of course can buy all the bikes they want. Bikes are cheap if you've kept thoroughbred horses. Guys buy ten bikes a year and the industry treats them like gods. Porsche money coming to bikes. Can't argue with that.

      Waited to post this 'cause JPW is a great builder. The client seems like a nice enough character. But decadent? Yeah the whole game is become decadent.

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  16. I simply enjoy looking at bikes and thinking of their owners, don't you? This morning there were four parked outside the coffee shop. I guarantee that three of the four were in the category of inexpensive and the other was clearly on the high side of expensive. But those three bikes are there everyday. Their riders rely on them and personal touches made them quite lovely. Isn't that the point?

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  17. Beautiful work. I am unable to stop looking at old French stuff on eBay. I found the handlebar bag / decaleur I have been seeking. My mish mash (ad hoc sounds nicer) Peugeot PX-50 is finished.
    As far as custom builders, here is some eye candy from Johnny Coast from Brooklyn:
    http://www.hetchins.org/coast.htm

    Love the posts, very dangerous for tomorrow's productivity to start reading so late!!

    vsk

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    1. > http://www.hetchins.org/coast.htm

      Those are... interesting choices. I'd be interested to know how much that bike weighs.

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    2. I could not say for sure. I saw it up close at the Kissena Park Velodrome when our Brooklyn Velodrome Vintage Wheelmen had a little field trip. He has a TA triple on it now. Funny to spin the Edelux hub while free and watch it "pulse" past the resistance points. I did not pick it up to see how light it feels.

      By the way I ordered these bulbs from Practical Cycles UK. They are LEDs that screw into vintage bases. I haven't had a chance to take my Luxors on the road with them yet but cool blue/white glow up front and red for the rear. Just a little bump up for the vintage hardware.
      vsk

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    3. I'm guessing about as much as any other typical steel randonneuse. I don't think the use of vintage parts for that build adds much weight compared with modern parts. Velouria, you and I have met the owner, I can put you in touch with him if you like, if you don't already know him.

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    4. I ride with the guy who owns that bike, so it gets used as intended. I believe it weighs ~25 lbs without the handlebar bag, maybe a little lighter.

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    5. Not familiar with the headlight apparatus so cannot say for sure, but new lights designed for LED include extra aluminum (copper works better but costs more) to abate heat.

      Most of the other components are generally as light - in the case of the cranks lighter - than similar modern parts. If the brake cable is vintage it is pretty heavy. Freewheels weigh more than cassettes straight up - not sure how a 5 speed compares to a modern 11.

      Oh and yes, as I said above, especially for East Coast buyers Johnny Coast is a good choice to build this type of bike.

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    6. Tis a small world indeed!
      These machines are gorgeous. I hope one day to be able to be known by the bike I ride ... in a good way!

      vsk

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  18. It appears to me that the spring supported lever type of bells such as the one on this bicycle are very popular with cyclists.
    I like the minimalist appearance and so I gave it a try. sadly I was not able to keep the bell from ringing when riding over anything but smooth road. I tried and tried to bend it away just so to avoid the nuisance until the spring finally broke off. I have since returned to the large spring lever crane I have on all bikes, and a quiet ride.
    am I the only one?

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    1. balaenoptera, this is a common problem if the striker is too close to the bell body. The spring definitely reverberates over bumps. You can fix this by putting one or two small washers between the striker spring and the bell body before threading to whatever mount you're using. I have this style bell on most of my bikes and none give me "false" ringing.

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  19. Me LOVE the Cranes! Brass all the way, announce yourself! Especially useful are the two stage "jing-jing" ones. On one of my commuters I have it mounted under the handlebar to be a little hidden... of course when it rains it fills with water!! hahaha.

    vsk

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  20. Simply a beautiful bike, a collector's piece, something to buy as bicycle art and put it on your wall. Looking at it I want to do just that. It does not inspire me to want to ride it as I would hate to subject it to wear and tear.

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  21. Ah, Witcomb. I live in Deptford, south London, such a shame the shop isn't there any more. I will own a second hand Witcomb one day. I have to. Nice to know their legacy continues.

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