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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

Steve’s cross bike.

February 3rd, 2014

I recently got these photos from customer and friend of the Frameworks Steve and they show some cross racing from last season. Steve’s bike has disc brakes and is fillet brazed and painted a deep, wet and inky black.

Thanks for the photos Steve.

Dave

2014 – Looking Ahead.

January 14th, 2014

The year 2013 was more a year of looking back at the previous ten years than it was looking forward to the next ten – while 2014 promises to be much different being solely focused on the future both near and far.

There are a number of things in the works that will be phased in this coming year and while there are a few I’m ready to talk about, the others I’ll keep under my hat for now.

The biggest product news is the introduction of two new models – the final details and model names are still being worked out but I can say that I will be offering a new road model and for the first time a full-on offroad bike.

First the road bike – I’ve always wanted to build a full stainless road frameset and offer it sans paint but have always held back because I didn’t feel the tubes available would give the ride I wanted – and – I guess I didn’t really care how good it looked if it didn’t ride how I feel a road bike should. But things have changed and the good folks at Reynolds have listened to my long time pleas and now offer a full stainless tubeset, including the super important chainstays and fork blades, that I feel will make the bike ride as good as it looks. So with the tubes in the bag it’s a matter of having my proprietary front and rear dropouts cut from stainless as well as getting lugs, crowns, bridges and braze-ons on the way. I should be ready to build the first sample very soon. As for the finish – I can say it won’t have any paint but beyond that I won’t say for now. Pricing has not been finalized yet but will be once the first sample is complete. If you really can’t wait and want to get in the queue sooner rather than later be sure to let me know.

The other new offering will be a first for Kirk Frameworks as a company but far from the first for me as a builder. I’ve had many folks ask about mountain bikes over the years but I’ve always been so busy that I never made the time to make it happen. But my past is calling and I feel the need to make the time and follow the strong urge to build some mountain bikes again.

My mountain bike riding, racing and design go way back and the first custom bike I ever had built for me (a custom fillet brazed Fisher – 1987) was a mountain bike and the first bike I built for myself shortly after starting work at Serotta in 1989 was a mountain bike. I also raced on a nationally sponsored team (Team Ritchey) up until about the time I started working at Serotta in 1989. Being as tall as I am (6’4”), and having strong technical riding skills, meant that as a racer I’d have more success offroad than on and I did pretty well even if I do say so myself. Over the years I really learned what made a mountain bike ride and handle well and while I was at Serotta I was instrumental in designing their mountain bikes – the T-Max, Ti-Max, ATi, and the Ti Softail were all designs I had a large input on and I’m excited to use those skills again. Couple that with the fact that we have more than a little mountain biking here in Montana to test the bikes on and I’m pretty excited. As with the stainless road frameset the details aren’t all finalized yet but I can say the bikes will be available with 29”, 27.5” or 26” wheels depending on the size of the rider and the use of the bike and that they will all be fillet brazed. As soon as the details are finalized I will be announcing pricing – that said if you know you interested please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll work it out.

I’ll be announcing the other company changes as they mature and am excited to out the stuff I have in the works…………..so please stay tuned.

As always – thanks for reading.

Dave

Bob Baldner.

December 27th, 2013

Bob Baldner.

Karin and I moved from Saratoga Springs, NY to Montana in 1999 and come our second winter here I was offered a job as the supervisor of the snowboard school at the Bridger Bowl Ski Area here in Bozeman. Frankly I had no business being the supervisor of a crew of more than 20 snowboard instructors when I’d never even taught a single snowboard lesson in my life. But the head of the snow-sports school believed in me and wanted me to fill the newly formed position.

When I started the job I was introduced to a young man named Bob. Bob was the ski supervisor at the school and he and I would spend pretty much all day, everyday, side by side as we each did our respective jobs.

I was seriously apprehensive about how Bob, a long time veteran of ski instruction, and the others would feel about having a guy who’d never worked at a school supervising the staff and teaching them how to teach paying clients. I got the cold shoulder from plenty of folks at first but not from Bob. I had no idea how to perform the basic daily functions the job required and I was never really told by the big boss but on the second or third day of the job I noticed that Bob was going out of his way to lead by example and show me what needed to be done. Never once did he come out and tell me ‘do this’ but instead made sure I saw him doing what needed to be done ………. then he gave me enough rope to do the job or hang myself. At least that’s what it felt like at the time but in retrospect I can see that he never would have let me drop the ball but would have shown me in his gentle way that something needed to be done and how to do it.

In time I got the hang of the basics of the job and not every moment of my working day was punctuated by fear of screwing up. It was at this time that I got to know Bob and the more I got to know him the more I liked him.

At the time Bob was just 32 years old, stood about 6’4” and weighed about 240 pounds. He was built like a big Montana ranch hand and not like the typical high-end skier – but looks were deceiving. He was beautiful on skis and a gifted teacher, He could watch a skier while we glided over them on the lift and within a just a few turns could see what they were doing wrong and how they could fix it. And unlike most ski instructors he could even look at a snowboarder and come up with the same advice. In fact in my 30 years of snowboarding some of the best advice I ever got was from the skier Bob.

We worked side by side for two years and it was a joy and privilege to work along side him. For two years we did everything we could to squeeze as many runs in as possible between work tasks. We would be booted up and ready to roll and as soon as all the lessons were assigned to instructors and then Bob and I raced to the lift to get as many runs as possible in before we needed to come back down and do the same thing all over again with a new group of students. On slow days, or late in the afternoon after all the lessons were over, we’d gather a big group of instructors and head out into the falling powder to ride hard, and laugh even harder, until we nearly wet out pants. For those two years we spent countless hours making the best turns of our lives and then getting on the lift together yet one more time and solving the world’s problems. The job’s pay was low but I’ve never had more fun in my life and it was all made possible by Bob and his company.

After two seasons doing the best job in the world I made the difficult decision to quit the Bridger job and focus on my framebuilding business while Bob stayed on for a few more seasons. I of course would play hooky and go up and make some turns with my old friend whenever I could but it was never enough. Bob started his own business and left Bridger Bowl and I didn’t get to see him that much after that.

Sadly a few weeks ago Bob had a blood clot in one of his lungs. After much testing they diagnosed him as having lung cancer……………and within a few short weeks Bob died. It was of course known that he was sick but he was big and strong and cheerful and no one expected he would die. Surgery was scheduled and the prognosis was good for a real recovery. I don’t know exactly what happened a week ago when Bob took a serious turn for the worse and died……….and I suppose it doesn’t matter much at this point.

I have of course been spending a lot of time thinking of the injustice of it all and how unfair it is to take a young man in the prime of it life………….but I’ve been doing my best to not dwell on those thoughts and feelings and instead I’m trying to remember the countless great days I had with him and all the fun we had. As I said before Bob was a big Montana boy but he was also a little boy at heart and this showed during slow times when he and I would be in the ski school locker room and he would get an evil gleam in his eye and loudly proclaim that it was time for a rousing game of ‘Breaking stuff!’ which really was just taking stuff and throwing it around the room as fast as possible until something broke. So we have two grown men hucking crap around the room for entertainment. We also had two ‘games’ we loved to play on the snow – one was called ‘Shrubbery’ and the other ‘Kill the follower’. The Shrubbery game was really just the two of us daring each other to try to ski through thicker and bigger clumps of shrub undergrowth until one of us got stuck……usually hung upside-down in the undergrowth. Holy crap was that silly fun. ‘Kill the follower’ was just as simple……..it involved one of us leading the other through terrain or trees that were virtually impossible to get through and at alarming rates of speed. The winner was the one that skied a line that the follower couldn’t, or wouldn’t, follow. This is a really good game.

The silliness and play we shared is just the tip of the iceberg and just as often we spent time talking about life and where we fit into it in the big scheme of things. Never before had I felt so understood, tolerated, and appreciated by another man the way I did with Bob. He was the definition of the word ‘friend’.

Playing these games, working on our technique, having serious discussions on the lift, floating in the bottomless powder, and then sitting in the bar after work, sunburned and tired, and having a beer is the way I want to remember my friend Bob…………..snow in his beard, light in his eyes and giggling like a 12 year old girl. I loved him and will miss him for longer than I can imagine.

What I wouldn’t give for just one more lift ride with my friend.

Here’s to Bob.

Hiking the Ridge.

Bob.

Exotic Places.

November 14th, 2013

I’ve been told a few times that it must be great to ride in Montana and that it’s ‘exotic’. I suppose to some it is and I really do like it. But when I got some photos from my customer Gary riding in Israel and the Sinai Desert I started thinking that where I live and ride is hum drum and and average.

Thanks for the photos Gary.

If anyone out there has a Kirk and would like to share photos of where they love to ride, exotic or not, I’d love to publish them here for all to see.

dave

Start your Seven – Take II.

November 12th, 2013

In looking through some of the older blog posts i find that some of my favorites have little or even nothing to do with cycling and this post from May of 2010 is certainly that way.

When I first wrote this piece I owned a 1999 Birkin S3 which is a very faithful modern interpretation of the classic Lotus Seven. The Lotus Seven is as small and light as a car can really be I suppose and the designer, Colin Chapman, really thought of it as a 4 wheeled motorcycle……..and at 1250 pounds I think he was right.

I owned and raced the car for a number of years and it rewrote the laws of physics with how hard it would pull, corner and slow and i really do miss that feeling at times. Nothing compares to it on a perfect day on a very curvy road.

The downsides of owning a Seven are many and certainly getting in and out of it can be a royal pain in the ass. it can not be done quickly by anyone. Way back when there was a British TV show called “The Prisoner” and the hero in the show drove a Seven. They would show him running to the car so he jump speed off and they would show him running toward the car, then switch cameras to the bad guy driving away, and then back again to the hero being in the Seven and speeding after the bad guy. They just never showed him using a shoehorn to get his butt in the seat. It’s not like a regular car where you open the door, plunk you butt in the seat, swing your feet into the car and drive away. Far from it.

This fact was driven home in a big way when I took my Seven out one spring only to get a good ways from home and have the battery die. Push starting a car is no big deal most of the time even on your own. But when it takes so long to get into the car and to get your feet WAY down into the super narrow footwell pushing starting your own car can be a challenge.

The post explains how to best push start your own Seven should you ever need to.

I still miss that silly car.

Dave

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Start your Seven

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

As anyone who stops by here often will know the only thing that I like as much as bikes are Lotus cars and I’m lucky enough to own one. Before I got my current Louts Elise I owned a Lotus Seven clone made by Birkin in South Africa. It was a fantastic little car that warped the fabric of space-time and broke the laws of physics.

I had many adventures in the car as you might imagine driving something like this in Montana – home of the Ford Super Duty F350. I thought you might get a kick out of reading something I wrote a few years ago and posted on my SCCA club’s forum. Without further fanfare – Start your Seven.

Start your Seven.

So let’s say you have a Seven type car and it’s in storage for the winter. You of course want to take it out a few times to get everything loosened up when the weather is good. Folks will look at you like you are from Mars but how’s that different from any other time.

So you go to your storage room and try to start the car. Battery almost dead and it won’t start. No problem you are a smart lad and you brought jumper cables along. It starts right up and all is right with the world. So it’s now time to drive. Where do you go? How bout the Honda dealer to see with they have a Fit on the lot?

So you drive across town to the Honda dealer and pull in and instinctively turn the car off. You wonder right after shutting it off if that was a good move or not. Ahh….it’ll be fine.

You then walk around and look at the shiny cars (the Civic coupe looks very nice for $17K).

OK…….. so now it’s time to head back to the storage locker. Get yourself in the Lil’ car and drive it home right? No problem. But you turn the key and it turns over 1/2 turn and that’s it. Hmmmm. Try again and the same thing. It’s at this point that I developed the “how to” push start your own Seven by yourself -

1) push the car back and forth a bunch of times to get it lined up as best possible so that when you are pushing the car it won’t run into a row of new Hondas.

2) remove door and steering wheel so you can get in the car quickly.

3) double check aim of car as you are about push it down a gentle slope with rows of new cars on each side sans steering wheel.

4) turn on ignition.

5) put car in neutral.

6) think about your order of events very carefully so that when you are running along side your own car without a steering wheel that you can jump in and get it all done in the right order. This is a very important step.

7) with #6 more or less clear in your mind push the car like a mad man down between the row of cars and jump in and accidentally hit your foot hard on the brake pedal making the car come to an instant halt while throwing your unbelted body into the dash. These things should have a steering wheel to hold on to!

8 Turn off ignition to save what little battery is left and push the car back up the grade.

9) repeat…….. push car down grade jump in, push in clutch, put in gear, let out clutch and blip throttle and nothing. You forgot to turn ignition back on.

10) push the car back up the grade. It’s not a problem that it’s cold out anymore as you are now plenty warm. Rejoice in the warmth.

11) TURN ON THE IGNITION! Push the car down the slope being careful to not run over your own foot (it’s pretty close). Jump into the car, push in the clutch, place in gear, let out the clutch and blip the throttle until it catches and push the clutch back in so it doesn’t stall. Too late, it stalled.

12) Turn off ignition, push the car back up the grade and rejoice in the warmth.

13) Turn on ignition, push like a mad man, clutch, gear, clutch, blip, clutch and it’s running. Rejoice in the running.

14) Now with the car running you can relax. Put on your belt and drive it back to the storage locker.

15) Pull out of the Honda lot noticing that it’s very windy and cold. Note that you left the door in the Honda lot and return for it.

16) Pull car up to the door and DO NOT TURN CAR OFF. Reach out of running car and pick up door and install.

17) Drive back in comfort and remove battery when you get back so you can buy a new one.

There that was simple wasn’t it? How to push start your own Seven. I hope you learned a lesson here.

Dave

Thanks Again Joe.

November 4th, 2013

This is my second in an irregular series of re-runs of blog posts I made in the past. This one is from August 2011 and for some reason I’d been thinking about my BMX racing days and how they formed and cemented my future in the bicycle business.

When I was 17 and moved out of the house and 1500 miles away to Florida it for some reason didn’t feel like a very big deal to me. Now, looking back on it, it seems a bit nuts and I’m surprised my parents let me just pick up and take off and go so far away with such a weak ‘plan’. But they did and I ended up in Niceville, Florida. I found the local BMX track and with it an entire community and southern family. The southern good ol’ boys took me in as one of their own despite my being a Yankee. It was at this time that I met the man who would become my coach and dad away from home. He looked after me and gave me a firm talking to when I screwed up and even though he had no ‘right’ to do this it felt right and I learned so much from the man. The man just commanded respect. We all called him ‘Hardman’ for a reason.

After I posted this story Joe’s now adult children got in touch with me and I was a bit worried that my words about their dad would be misunderstood. It was a very emotional time for me hearing from them and more stories about their dad and of course to hear of his passing away. This past summer Joe’s son Joey came to our 20-10 Gathering and spent a few days turning over the pedals with us. At one point during one of the rides Joey and I were pedaling along side by side and it seemed like no time had passed let alone 25 years. Joey said something like – “ who would have ever thought 25 years ago that you and I would be riding road bikes together in Montana of all places – Pops is no doubt looking down and smiling”. I know I was smiling.

Thanks again Hardman.

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Here’s a link to the original post if you’d like to read it in context – http://www.kirkframeworks.com/blog/2011/08/09/thanks-joe/

_____________________________________________________

Thanks Joe.

Over the years, between racing and framebuilding, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with some wonderful people. As some of you might know I started in this business by racing BMX as a young man. At the age of 17 I left home and moved from Central New York State to the Panhandle of Florida and right into a hotbed of BMX racing. I lived in the very small military town of Niceville (I couldn’t make up a better name) and raced my BMX bike all over the Florida Panhandle. At some point I met a good ol’ Southern boy named Joe who had a kid that was also racing. Joe was a 45ish year old (but very high mileage) little bearded man who had muscular dystrophy and I later came to find out was also an alcoholic. His southern accent was so thick I couldn’t tell what he what he was saying a good part of the time. He walked with a big limp and could barely even ride a bike but he had a real eye for good riding and knew how to motivate a young man like myself to work harder and ride smarter. There were times when he knew I was having trouble making ends meet and he would tell me to come out to his place for some sprints and training on his back yard track and then to stay for dinner. It was really just his way of getting me to stay for dinner and have a real meal. In time he became my coach and I traveled with he and his family to events all over the southeast chasing fame and glory and really tall trophies.

I wanted to be one of the big names like Greg Hill or Stu Thompson but in retrospect I didn’t have what it took to do that. But Joe believed in me and put a huge amount of time and energy into my training and racing. Many long nights at the track (racing was done at night, under the lights, when it was cooler) with Joe having me do starts over and over and over again until they looked just right to him. He had a very good eye and knew when it was being done right. We started having some bigger successes and traveling farther to events and attracting attention from teams that wanted me to race for them. This was what might have been the golden age of BMX racing, before freestyle became so big, and the big bike companies put a huge amount of resources into racing. Lots of money was changing hands. I dreamt of being on the receiving end of that money and Joe was doing his best to coach his son and I to that end. The only real way to get there was to win enough to get the attention of a major factory team that would pick up the expenses for racing and travel. Racing 3-4 times a week and traveling 6-8 hours each way on weekends becomes very expensive, very quickly, but was needed to reach that top tier.

Joe and I met with some smaller regional team managers at some of the big races and while their offers were better than nothing they wouldn’t pay as much as we needed to make a go of it so we held out for something bigger. Then Joe got us a meeting with Gary Turner. Gary Turner was the ‘GT’ of GT Bicycles and they were the 800 pound gorilla at the time. If anyone could afford to send us around the country racing it was going to be Mr. Turner and his company GT. I was very nervous and was scheduled to race my preliminary motos that morning before our meeting and knew I’d better kick some butt so I could tell Mr. Turner that I was doing well and had a good chance of winning that weekend. It’s hard to ask for money when you stunk it up just an hour earlier. My morning races went well and soon it was time to meet with Mr. Turner. Joe got me cleaned up and told me to come with him. It was obvious to anyone that knew me that I was very I was nervous. It was certainly obvious to Joe and he told me to relax. Joe knew better than I that winning races was only part of what Turner was looking for and that I needed to look confident and relaxed so that I could give good interviews and represent GT well. But I was not confident and relaxed – I was gripped. The time came for us to meet and Joe and I started walking across a big grassy area outside the track – I think it was in Memphis – to meet Mr. Turner. I could see Turner from a long way away and we waved a hello and Joe slowly limped his way across the clearing. Joe then stopped and turned to me and looked me right in the eye. I couldn’t help but think, ‘what the hell are you doing? – let’s not keep the man waiting’. Joe looked me in the eye and with the thickest southern drawl one can imagine asked me a question. “ Dave, do you know what a ‘buddy’ is?” He then answered his own question with “a buddy is a wart on the dick of a dawg” and had the biggest shit-eating grin on his face.

What the hell was that about? I’m so confused at this point and we start walking toward Mr. Turner again. We get close and there are smiles all around and Joe reaches out his hand to Turner and greets him with “Hey Buddy, howz it going?” I started laughing out loud. In fact I could not keep a straight face at this point. All my nervousness was gone and suddenly it seemed so much less important. The meeting was fine but in the end went nowhere but I will never forget Joe and how he took care of me and taught me how life worked. In that one short ‘Buddy’ moment he taught me that some things are not as important as they might seem.

In time I moved away from the area but went back and visited a number of years later and Joe wasn’t doing that well to be honest. His kid was off at college and without the focus of racing he’d fallen off the wagon and was drinking again. Not good. That was nearly 25 years ago now and I suspect that Joe might no longer be with us at this point. He’d lived a hard life and had some very bad luck……….but he taught many of us so much. Thanks Joe. I think of you often.

Dave

Competitive Cyclist.

October 24th, 2013

Some of you may recall that I built a JKS X for the main man at Competitive Cyclist awhile back. Well Brendan has been riding the bike for about a month or so and is having a great time riding it on the back mountain roads around Salt Lake City.

The company has a staff photographer (Ben Kuhns) and they allowed me to use the shots they took of the assembled bike. I think Ben might be just a bit better than I am with a camera!

Here’s the bike in all its early 1990′s color glory –

Dave

A Fall Day.

October 23rd, 2013

Just a few shots from a ride Karin and I enjoyed with our good friend and Kirk owner Megan. A stunning day to be sure.

Dave