SILCA: Let's talk about your way for a minute. What is your design process and inspiration for your frames?
RS: I’ve never drawn a frame. Or plotted points and intersections on paper to see where things go, or might end up. No CAD here. No formulas. My work, all of it going back to before I started my brand in 1975, has been done by feel. That’s not to say I haven’t a clue. Only to suggest that the answers are in me. As long as the right questions are asked, I can do this. I know what goes where from doing the work. And doing more of it. Mostly though, it’s from being around the sport. Or as I’m fond of saying, being of the sport. It’s where myths, and bullshit, come to die. If bicycle making is music, my corner is jazz. It’s improvisation. It’s about producing a sound that isn’t scored, it just comes.
SILCA: As the creator, I bet you notice each and every little detail on a frame by the time you're done with it. Is this true? How many hours would you say you spend with each frame?
RS: I notice everything. EVERYTHING. The ideal is the concept. The order. The design. Your (my) intentions. The material sitting nicely on a surface in front of you. It's the one chance you get to do it right. To redeem yourself for that last one, and all those before it, that went sideways. You want emotion? Feelings? Anxiety? Try fulfilling dreams. And expectations.
On one hand, these are just bicycles and within reason, it takes a mother lode of fucking up to produce something that won't work. On the other hand, frame builders answer to a higher calling. Our shit has to be dialed. People pay us the big bucks and also wait unreasonably long times for delivery just because, unlike the Orbeas, and the Stevens, and the Canyons of the world, we're supposed to have these impossibly high standards that we also meet because we ARE frame builders.
And then you walk to the bench, grab these materials, and try to imbue your DNA in them, that aforementioned design, and all the skills you can possibly muster, and try to tame the beast. Not. Gonna. Happen. A good maker. A true maker. A maker who gets it, and listens - this is the cat who realizes that the best one can hope for is a collaboration between the concept and what the material wants to be. It tells you. You don't tell it. Make peace with what you get. Because that's the only way to do this and NOT develop a substance abuse habit.
Oh. On a good day, I have a hair less than 3 working days in each commission