Experiments in Speed is a mini documentary about going very, very fast. Tom Donhou, the frame builder behind Donhou Bicycles in Hackney, London, was inspired by the old land speed record attempts at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The film chronicles Donhou’s fascination with speed, the bike’s build, and his attempts at pushing the machine to its limits. It is beautifully shot and exciting to watch and a reminder that bicycles are amazing feats of engineering. A simple frame design and one gear enable a human to ride 100 miles per hour. That’s incredible.
I’ve been a fan of Ezra Caldwell’s work for about five years. The bikes he builds as Fast Boy Cycles are beautiful and always meticulously documented with well made photographs. When he was diagnosed with cancer in 2008, Ezra turned outward and used his blog to share his wide-ranging experiences with treatment, his continued work as a bike builder and more. The latest short documentary from the Made by Hand series is about Ezra. In it he talks about his origins as a builder and his struggles with cancer with the same sincerity and openness that make his writing so powerful. It is beautifully shot and produced and well worth a watch.
Made by Hand / No 5 The Bike Maker from Made by Hand on Vimeo.
Jim couldn’t find any photos of his first frame, so here’s a recent frankencross build.
My First Bike explores the life and work of professional frame builders by going back to the start and looking at the first bike they ever built. Today’s My First Bike features Jim Kish of Kish Fabrication.
Give me the short rundown of your first frame: when was it built, where, materials, any special details about it, etc.
I moved from Vermont to Talent, Oregon in 1991 in order to be close to United Bicycle Institute. I was looking for an alternative to my current career being a tour leader and mechanic and I had heard that UBI had recently started teaching frame building in addition to mechanics. I was sold. I signed up for every class I could afford and one of those was a brazed and lugged steel frame class.
I chose to rip off a bike design I loved at the time, from the Ibis Mt Trials, which was a great trail bike with a 24″ rear wheel and 26″ front. It was not the most lug-friendly design, lots of weird angles, but I managed to make it happen with the help and patience of Ron Sutphin and the rest of the UBI staff.
I couldn’t tell you what tubing was used–that was a long time ago–I’d guess True Temper AVR given the vintage. I rode the trails around Ashland, OR nearly every day then and that bike served me well for a couple years until I replaced it with a titanium version I built.
Last week, I rode up to the Hampsten Cycles workshop in north Seattle to interview Max Kullaway, owner of 333Fabrications and one of two Hampsten frame builders. The shop is built in a detached two-car garage at Steve Hampsten’s home. The space is relatively small and packed tight with all the machines, torches, and tools needed to weld and braze, but it’s far from claustrophobic. I wouldn’t call myself a photographer, but I brought a camera with me and took some photos to show the Hampsten work space.
Lots more photos after the jump.
Max in the Hampsten workshop. Photo from Cycling Inquisition.
Max Kullaway might not have the same celebrity as some in the industry, but his roots in frame building run deep. He got his start production welding at Merlin. He later joined Seven Cycles as the company got off the ground. Now, with over two decades of experience under his belt, he’s building for Hampsten bikes, welds titanium frames for Davidson, and runs his own company 333 Fabrications (pronounced triple three). I sat down with him in the workshop he shares with Steve Hampsten at Hampsten’s house in North Seattle to talk about his background in metal fabrication, his early days in the New England frame building world, his move to Seattle and reentry into bike building, getting 333 off the ground, and more.