We always kid ourselves that we will have time/the energy to sit and blog at the same time each week, but then our daughter seems to know what we are thinking. Therefore she throws some bedtime resistance our way. Oh well, here we are again to bring you our trademark mix of workshop updates and good old fashioned ranting. Let's start with the bits and bobs that have kept us fed this week.
It's been all hands to the pump in terms of wheels this week. On average, we have been building 8 sets a day, for a combination of new, existing and trade customers. Guys. We can't thank you enough but also, bloody hell. The Morizumi has been smoking from all the spoke cutting and Mrs A can hear rim tape applications in her sleep now. The Islandix truing tech we were gifted by Ryan over at Spoke Service has been invaluable as well.
Wheels are heading out throughout the UK, including to the Isle of Man, where a lot of my family are from and still live, so they were extra special. One of the other sets is a birthday present for someone, complete with tyres and quick releases, ready to ride. Can we have a friend like you please Andrew? What a gift!
Fantastic customer and new dad Will popped over with a frame that needed some TLC. It wasn't one of his many Augusts, but we were happy to sort a couple of cracks and some other issues too, ahead of a ride to Brighton. This is exactly why we love steel bikes. Reasonably speaking, you will have it for life and damage, changes of heart and retrofits are no problem. The old bullshit about "being able to buy a car for that" might be initially monetarily true (although we might be doing it wrong because our frames will probably only get you an above average mileage '10 plate Golf, on Gumtree), but you won't have that gas guzzler forever. Every ride you enjoy and every year that you own a steel bike, it pays for itself. There's something rather romantic about that.
Ooooh. Talking about romance, I was in the good books with Mrs A this week. We decided to get a few of our own bikes sorted for solo rides. While we love our Bullitts, it only takes one bimble on a solo to realise just what hard work they can be. For me, that meant dragging my beloved Geekhouse (we love and miss you Mar Mar) fixed out of retirement, adding a front brake (safety first guys, plus it's the law and I have a daughter to think about. Don't be douchbags!) and getting out and about on it again. We have fond memories of this bike, not only for getting me in the best shape of my life, but also allowing me to start dating a certain girl who lived in a village outside the city, when I didn't have a car.
For Mrs A, we gave her Yellow Peril commuter a spruce and her favourite bike ever, her grey and pink whip. This was the first bike I ever built, before August was August. It is a lot of firsts, with the first stem and the first rack I created too. We were both surprised, as we thought it would be old yellow that Amy wanted to ride around on the most but actually, grey proved to be the friend she didn't know she missed. She says that as soon as she went up and down the street on it, it felt like no time had passed and she fell a little more in love with me all over again. Awwwwww. We've taken off the mudguards to make it a little more simple, but then we added something we never expected to when it was first built: a baby seat. From best-boyfriend-ever present to full-on-mummy-wagon. The eagle-eyed among you will see an old Brooks saddle that will be replaced. Just goes to show how long it's been since this has been ridden, as we've been vegan for a good long time now!
Now, this isn't to say that yellow isn't still a fun ride, it is, but for some reason, it just didn't hit the same as grey. That being said, we are still proud of it and like that it's our first unfiled fillet bike. It's always good to have a reminder of how your skills have developed over time and looking at the frame again, I've got no complaints.
We've been doing some soul searching too this week. You know how it is, when you sit down at the end of a long day and just have a bit of a reminisce and sometimes a moan? Well, we got to thinking about how lucky we are that most of our customers become good friends. People we text, ride with when we can and just generally like hanging out with. Then we had a good giggle at the couple of near misses. Those bikes that would have been totally at odds with our branding and ridden by the kind of people we wouldn't want as our ambassadors. Which lead us to remember something really troubling and at odds with how we work.
We've spoken with plenty of builders who say that they literally build anything but if they hate the end result or think the paint is grim, they just don't showcase the bike. No website gallery, definitely no social media. They just brush it under the rug and take the money. We get it; bills need to be paid, exposure is important etc but it's not for us. We can't imagine bullshitting someone that we love their vision for their special, perfect bike, only to pretend we didn't build it and we imagine it makes the customer feel like absolute shite too. Maybe that's why we prefer to work with good people rather than to a strict price list. It's definitely why we pick and choose a few projects to take on each year. We aren't trying to be elusive or exclusive, we just think that if we have a genuine connection to you and your idea, you'll get the best bike possible and we'll love building it. Little extra touches that we know you'll like, we'll add in, just because it's fun for us and good for you. You know we mean it too, because although those Vulpine bikes (his and hers) turned out to be a little contentious, the bikes themselves we are still very proud of and showcase in our gallery. We just wish they had been built for other people! The only reason a bike won't appear on our site is if it's gone before we had a chance to snap it.
Right, breakfast calls, so we'll leave you all to your days now. Have a good one and remember: if you've been moaning about the heat and now complain about the refreshing rain...you're a div!
Rad Peeps of the Week:
The ladies at forest school who have opened our eyes to a whole new world of fun and bubba enjoyment.
Everyone that bought us a coffee this week. The generosity is mind-blowing!
Everyone who has been reposting our stem rack and balance bike this week.
Jon and Linda (just Linda really!) for the most delicious vegan cake ever!
Greta Thunberg for speaking up and highlighting the hypocrisy of serving beef and lobster at the G7. We can only hope our little one has an iota of the same understanding and passion for world change.
See you next time!