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Jay Adams.

August 19th, 2014

As a kid growing up in Central New York State in the mid 1970’s you either played ball sports or you watched TV. So many of the sports we take for granted now didn’t even exist at that point and I just never strong enough, quick enough, or aggressive enough to play any ball sports well – and I just never was a ‘join a team’ kind of kid. At some point I ended up with my first skateboard. It was a roller skate cut in half nailed to a 2×4 as I recall…….it had steel wheels.

I rode that metal-wheeled board around the driveway most of one summer before I stumbled on some used clay wheeled roller skates at a second hand store. I ‘barrowed’ money from my Pops to buy them and they were so much better than the metal wheels. A few of the kids in the neighborhood skated in my driveway with me a bit here and there but for the most part I skated alone. At some point a kid I knew was headed to Florida where he said you could buy plastic (urethane) skateboard wheels and I gave him $12 and waited all summer for him to come back to New York.

He brought me back a set of clear amber Cadillac wheels with cone and cup bearings and they were unbelievable. I skated in the morning before school and came home and told my mom I didn’t have any homework and skated until dinner and then after dinner until it was time for bed. I was obsessed with skateboarding but for the most part I was alone. I don’t think I minded skating alone – that’s just how it was.

Skating for me at the time was going back and forth in the driveway making turns around chalk marks I put on the driveway – just turning and carving and feeling the G loads build and release. I didn’t do any tricks to speak of and I didn’t even know one could do more than I was doing. I was the best skater in the neighborhood and proud of that.

One year for my birthday my Aunt Nancy came over and gave me a copy of ‘Skateboarder’ magazine and my world was changed forever. On the cover of that issue of December 1976 issue of Skateboarder was Jay Adams. He was flying through the air, set low on the board with his two hands hold the deck to his feet. I couldn’t believe it – he was off the fucking ground while skating. All of a sudden my driveway and my hometown of Rome, NY seemed incredibly small.

The magazine was full of photos of skaters in far away places in skateparks (I didn’t know there was such a thing) and riding on vertical swimming pool walls like they were surfing…….but it was even better than surfing to me. I went to Carl’s drug store everyday for the next month or more with money in hand to buy the next issue. I was 14 years old.

Of all the skaters shown in Skateboarder none resonated with me more than Jay Adams. One could see even in still photos that he skated with aggression, maybe even anger, and it was a free form, never do the same thing twice kind of self expression. He expressed his feelings through skating with slashing frontside grinds, hand plant Berts on vertical pool walls and by looking straight into the camera and flipping it off – all while right on the coping of the pool 10’ off the hard concrete bottom of the pool.

My skating instantly changed from being something akin to figure skating to being a means of expressing myself and my anger, frustration, aggression, joy, beauty….etc. Skating suddenly gave me a voice and that was a very powerful thing for this boy in his mid-teens.

I subscribed to Skateboarder and read each copy cover to cover countless times. I studied the photos with an intensity I’ve never before applied to anything and while the beauty of Stacy Peralta’s skating floored me, and Tony Alva’s cool aggression always got my attention it was Jay Adams’ skating that made the biggest impression on me. During the long NY winters I skated in the basement in a narrow hallway that was concrete and I stared at Skateboarder magazine and waited for spring.

It was Jay’s skating that brought me out of my shell and gave me an identity and Skateboarder Magazine let me know that while I was physically alone in my driveway, on the small wooden ramp I built with scrap plywood and lumber, I was part of something bigger. I had a tribe and the leader of my tribe was Jay Adams.

As time went on I skated more (if that was possible) and traveled a good bit to skate at parks all around the east coast. The desire to skate got this sheltered kid to get in his truck with a paper map in the seat and drive to strange places and skate until I was so tired I could hardly stand, sleep in the truck and then to do it again the next day.

At some point cycling crept into my life and I raced BMX, and did freestyle BMX and always in the back of my mind was that one could express themselves with movement……every movement. In time I got older and more focused on cycling and skating took a back seat and then finally the board sat unused for a year, and then two while I immersed myself in cycling.

Every once in a while I’d see a skate rag and leaf through it and the tricks had gotten so hard, so complex, that I couldn’t relate to them. They were incredible for sure but the focus was on the trick and the number of spins and not really the simple invisible line drawn by the skater as he arced up the wall. I read somewhere that Jay had gotten in trouble and was in jail in Hawaii. I guess it didn’t come as a surprise really as I didn’t get the impression that he was able to live a life inside the lines.

Years later I’m back skating some at the local park in Bozeman where I now live and I hook up with some old skater friends on FaceBook and through that I see that Jay is out of jail, covered with tattoos, a few pounds heavier but back skating. He didn’t do McTwists or 540’s…………….he did slashbacks and Berts and he painted the walls with his lines fast and hard. He was Jay Adams again, still, and he ripped. I smiled every time I saw his photo with kids 1/3 his age smacking their trucks on the coping as he ripped by on the vertical. It was beautiful.

Jay Adams died this past week at the age of 53. I read it was a heart attack – not that it matters much I guess. But Jay, his skating, and his wide influence has been in most of my waking thoughts over the past few days. I never met Jay, I never saw him skate in person, I didn’t know him……….but loved what he and his skating did for me and no doubt countless others stuck in their little hometowns skating the plywood ramps in their driveways. Jay Adams was, and will always be, in my mind skateboarding in its purest and most beautiful form. Jay gave us all a voice and the courage to use it.

Thank you Jay Adams – rest in peace.

Dave

A New Backdrop.

July 31st, 2014

As many of you might know I work from home using 1/2 of my garage for bike work while the other 1/2 gets used to store the sports car I use for SCCA Solo events. Since I share a good number of photos of bikes in process the car tends to act as a backdrop and it generates its own share of comments. Until last winter the car that was my back drop was a 2005 Lotus Elise and while I liked the car very much I kept feeling the urge to have something more simple, lighter, and with a higher power/weight ratio for autocross events.

So last fall I sold the Elise and ordered a 2014 Westfield S2000. The car can be purchased in two different forms – as a completed and built ‘roller’ sans engine and transmission or as a kit. I’d always wanted to assemble my own car from the ground up so I ordered the kit and then waited. The plan was for the kit to arrive during the long dark and cold Montana winter and that I’d take my time putting it together after work and on weekends but the plan didn’t work out as intended – the kit arrived not in February but late April.

“It is what it is” as they say and I got to work. Frankly it was challenging, fun, and at times very frustrating, building my new backdrop but I put time in on it most every day and in time it started to look like a car………or as much like a ‘normal’ car as an homage to a Lotus Seven ever looks. The build starts with riveting aluminum panels (hundreds of rivets!) to the tubular space frame and the progresses to adding suspension and wiring and bodywork. Finally the engine and transmission get bolted in place. About two and a half weeks ago, with my friend Joe’s help, I fired the engine up for the first time. First turn of the key not much happened…………second turn and it fired right up and idled smooth and quiet. Fluids did not come pouring out, there was no smoke and the fire extinguisher and hose I had at the ready sat unused. We drove it slowly around the neighborhood a few times with almost no bodywork on it and it shifted and braked and for the most part worked. After a few hundred hours of work the crate of parts was a car.

Over the past few weeks it’s been registered, insured, and generally sorted and it’s starting to work very well……….and I must say it’s very quick. Certainly the quickest thing I’ve ever driven. The Honda S2000 engine puts out 247 hp and the car weighs 1400 pounds so it gets out of the way in a hurry. My first Solo race with it is coming up on the 9th of August and there is still much to do to make sure it’s as ready as can be but it’s now a car……..a car I built with my own two hands just like the bikes that come out of the other half of the garage. At the risk of sounding all too pleased with myself I’m proud of the car and the hard work I put in to make it happen. I don’t know that I’ll want to do it again any time soon but I can say i’ve done it. I find myself coming home from rides and leaning my bike against the bench and sitting and looking at my orange bike and orange car in the same view. That feels good.

So there you have it – the short story of how and why you’ll see a new backdrop in the shop photos for some years to come.

Time to get to work.

Dave

Mountain Flyer Magazine.

July 15th, 2014

One of my favorite magazines of any genre is Mountain Flyer Magazine and I’m honored to be the featured framebuilder in the latest issue – #37. I’m told it’s on the newsstand now in most markets and if you subscribe you should already have it on your nightstand.

The main man at Mountain Flyer is Brian Riepe and he does a kick ass job and working with him on the profile was very smooth and fun. I was also excited to work with Bozeman writer Walt Burns and local photography legend Bob Allen. Both Walt and Bob have a slightly left-of-center view on things and this jives very well with my outlook and take on things and it made the whole process easy and rewarding.

So take a trip to the bookstore and pick up a copy of Mountain Flyer and check it out. I’ll be surprised if you don’t want to subscribe to it for the photos alone but the writing is the real deal.

Thanks so much for looking –

dave

http://www.mountainflyermagazine.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MountainFlyer

MRB – Montana Road Bike.

July 11th, 2014

About 10 years ago I started making bikes for riders that I called MRB’s……….Montana Road Bikes. Here in Montana when the roads leave town many of them turn to dirt yet that is where some of the best riding is. So bikes were built to deal with dirt roads and wider tires and the geometry and handling were optimized toward riding on mixed surfaces. Over the years I’ve built a lot of this style of bike. It’s interesting to see that the rest of the country has embraced this time of riding and that it’s been given the name ‘gravel grinder’. I suppose everything needs a name or it doesn’t actually exist and that’s fine……I’m just glad that so many are discovering the joy of riding on real backroads and not turning around when the pavement ends.

This frame has been this week’s work………it’s an MRB version of the JK Special with Terraplane seat stays, hydro disc brakes and Di2. I look forward to getting the fork for this one wrapped up and off to paint so that I can get it back and build it up. Should be cool.

Have a great weekend.

dave

Dirty Kanza 200.

July 1st, 2014

Just the other day friend of the business and customer Steve sent me a photo of him competing in this years Dirty Kanza 200 and I like it so much I asked if I could use the photo. Steve said it was cool to post it and then gave me some of the results and stats.

The Dirty Kanza 200 is a 200 mile Gravel Grinder race that saw over 800 riders start this year with only 469 finishers. Steve, riding his fillet brazed Kirk dirt road/cross bike equipped with disc brakes finished in 181st place in a time of 14.5 hours. Steve told me he was very happy to be in before the sun set………and with good reason. Steve is a hardman to be sure.

Nice work Steve.

Dave

Kirk Mountain bikes?

May 27th, 2014

It’s hard to say why it’s been so long since I made myself a new mountain bike. There was a time when I raced at a high level for Ritchey East (long time ago but feels like yesterday) and I traveled on and raced the NORBA pro circuit in the north east……….I designed and built countless offroad bikes during my Serotta days and of course Carl Strong and I tag teamed about 1000 Ibis mountain bikes from here in Bozeman. The riding around Bozeman is high alpine epic and I rode my old bike and enjoyed it but never wanted to take time away from my queue to build myself something new and more advanced. Like the cobbler’s kids I guess…….

But the time came this past winter to get ready for the snow in the high mountains to melt by making myself the first new mountain bike in more than 15 years.

I chose to go with a fillet brazed hardtail built for 29′s and of course wet disc brakes. I got it back from JB awhile back (signal green!) and finally took the time to indulge and hang the kit on it. I want to tweak a few things still (like getting a more burly stem and post – had these in stock) but I have the fit and set up dialed now and it’s a really wonderful ride even if i do say so myself. The frame is plenty stiff with XL sized tubes and the Rockshox fork with its through axle and handlebar lock out and it gives the whole package a very precise and accurate feeling on single track and wonderful high speed tracking on double track……….the big wheels really do roll wonderfully over the rough stuff and maintain momentum very well on climbs. Great stuff.

In the past I’ve not been known for making mountain bikes and people tend to think of me as a road guy………fair enough………that said I’d love to build some more of these and welcome orders. All bikes will be fillet brazed and of course be made to measure with the main option being a rigid or suspension fork. If you are interested please be in touch and we can go over the pricing and options and get you in the queue. Please consider the order book open for MTB sales………………..

Thanks as always for looking and have a great ride today.

Dave

Available now.

April 30th, 2014

Thanks so much for the interest – the frame has been sold.

Fortunately this doesn’t happen very often but it means I have a bike ready to purchase with no waiting – this bike was ordered and about ½ way through build the customer notified me that he had no choice but to step back from the order. Since the design and half the build was done I chose to finish it and offer it for sale with the new owner getting to make the decision on how they wanted it painted.

The main tubes are Reynolds 725, the chain and seat stays are Kirk by Reynolds, and the fork blades are Reynolds 853. The lugs are simple long points, the crown is Cinelli and the rear drops are Kirk Triple F’s. The seat stays are of course the curved Terraplane design.

The frameset is designed to work with a modern standard road brake and there is plenty of room to fit a 28mm tire. The geometry is straight up euro stage race and meant for long fast rides on a variety of paved and smoothish dirt roads.

If this is of interest to you take a look at the BikeCad image to see the basic fit numbers. The design as shown considers a -6° stem with 20 mm of spacers under it. If these numbers look close to yours and you’d like more info or to talk price please contact me directly at info@kirkframeworks.com and we can go over all the details.

As always thanks for looking.

Dave

Fixed Gear, Disc brake, JKS.

April 25th, 2014

This one is a bit toward the end of the bell curve. It’s a JKS built with Rocker dropouts so it can be run as a fixed gear while using disc brakes. The fork is designed and built to be used with discs too and there is room from and rear for fenders.

The owner likes to do some ‘easy’ 400K rides on the weekend and to make it challenging he does it on a fixed gear. Very cool.

Thanks PUDU for having me build this for you and to JB for the stunning paint. Very cool.

dave

That’s a Wrap.

March 19th, 2014

Well – the last of the 10th Anniversary bikes went into a box today and off to its new home and I must say that even thought it’s been a shit load of work I will miss them. I just love the color and the look and it won’t be the same around here without some hanging around.

The design and build of these bikes has been going on for many months now and it’s been a real push of work followed by a lot of waiting and then lather, rinse, repeat…….and I got to the point where I wondered if they would ever be done frankly. I’m much more used to a bike taking a week in process at the most and when I’m doing a batch like this that takes months to build and work out all the details on then it seems to take forever.

I’ve got way too many photos to share them all and we will be culling them down to a select group and making a slide show and a video or two in time but for the moment here are a few dozen that I liked while skimming through the pile.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take the time to thank everyone involved that made this whole thing possible. There is no way the bike would have even been built let alone come out just right without the help of the following –

• Reynolds of England for making me the tubes I need to give the bikes the feeling I really want them to have.
• Dazza of Llewellyn Cycles in Australia for designing the best lugs money can buy.
• Mark Norstad of Paragon Machine for making the special machined parts in the very limited quantities needed for these bikes. Most shops won’t answer the phone for an order of 1000 parts let alone 10 but they stepped up and made it happen.
• Gary Prange of SSSink who took my sketches and photos of mockups and turned them into the artwork that perfectly matched the image in my mind’s eye.
• Jenn Green who took my idea of a thin and simple headbadge and made it come to life in stainless steel.
• Joe Bell, the best painter on the planet. Joe worked with my ideas and added his own until we had a real collaboration. Words can’t express how much I like working with this man. He truly defines the words partner and gentleman.
• My wife Karin for supporting the idea of the business from its inception in 2003 to these very bikes in 2013. She has been there every step of the way and without her I’d not be able to do what I love to do for a living.
• Lastly a huge thanks to all those that signed up for one of these bikes to help celebrate the decade. Without you I’d just be standing at my bench with nothing to do and that would feel pretty silly. And a hearty thank you to everyone that has supported me and this business for all these years. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself everyday without your help. Thank you very much.

That should do it for now……….the last one is out the door and I’m going for a ride now.

Thanks as always for looking and stay tuned for a bunch more photos in the coming weeks.

Dave

10th Anniversary Bikes Shipped.

March 14th, 2014

As of today all but one of the 10th bikes have shipped with the exception of one still waiting on its kit. Here’s a collection of signatures. Once i’m sure the bikes are in the owners hands and that I won’t be spoiling any surprises I’ll post of bunch of photos of them.

Thanks for looking and have a great weekend.

Dave