Kirk Frameworks Blog...
September 26th, 2013
It’s been about two weeks since the 20-10 Gathering and we’ve culled the photos taken by ourselves and others and created a gallery that we hope give those who couldn’t join us a feel for what it was like……….and for those that were there some shots that will remind them of a fun weekend in Montana.
We couldn’t be more pleased with the event and it has us thinking about doing something again in the future. I don’t think we will want to wait another 10 years so we’ll have to come up with some kind of excuse.
Thanks to everyone who came to the gathering, to Carl and Loretta Strong and of course to Karin for making it happen. Without the hard work of these folks and others it would have never been more than idea over beers with Carl a long time ago. So thank you all very much.
You can find a link to the 20-10 Gallery on the home page or you can follow this –
September 12th, 2013
This is a JK Special X that I built for a well known industry guy and I’m excited for him to get it built up and on the road. He wanted to pay some homage to the days when I built the team bikes for the Coors Light team back in the early 1990′s at Serotta. It was fun for me to get it back from JB and see just how loud those colors are……….were……….are. maybe this bike will start a new trend of early 90′s colors. It would certainly help with visibility on the road.
It being JKS X the owner is going to have some real fun on the bad back roads in Utah and have his own little Belgian spring classics rides. Should be fun.
September 9th, 2013
For some reason framebuilders often ride the most beat up stuff that looks like hell. Well this bike was that way until just days ago when Joe Bell took my paint scheme and made it come true in real life – thanks JB!
September 4th, 2013
I’ve been very busy these past weeks making the donuts as I like to say…………in other words I’m chained to the bench making bikes. In this case i’m not really showing off the bikes because they are a surprise to a certain degree being the ten 10th Anniversary bikes. The bikes are coming along very well and I’m having a great time fussing over them. The photo below is of the brake bridge used in the 10th A bikes – 10 dots for 10 years – I feel so clever!
Karin and I (mostly Karin to be honest) have also been working hard on preparations for the 20-10 Gathering we are hosting with Strong Frames in only about 10 days now. most of the big stuff is done and now it’s time to focus on the details. if you are thinking of coming and not RSVP’d please do so ASAP so we can make sure we are set for the dinner.
Back to the bench for me – more soon.
August 28th, 2013
One of my favorite local rides is up and over Jackson Creek Road. Up until about 7 or 8 years ago this road was dirt and when it was paved there were a lot of happy cyclists in the Bozeman valley. Jackson Creek Road takes the rider up from Bridger Canyon Road and over a low pass that then spills down into the rolling land between the Bridgers and the Beartooths and the views of both a stunning.
The event is coming up soon so please join us for some good rides and food and some wonderful company.
See you soon.
August 15th, 2013
I’m doing my best to resist using the term ‘Ka- Pow!’ (you need to be of a certain age to have this make sense – ask your dad if necessary) but what can you do when you have a race bike for Batman.
The owner of this bike is in Switzerland and most likely didn’t have Batman in mind when he chose the paint but that’s what come to my mind when I see it. Cool ride any way you cut it.
Tomorrow it goes into a box and heads to Europe. Safe travels.
August 13th, 2013
A good while back Karin and I decided to change the layout of our photo galleries to make them easier to navigate and less cluttered. So some changes were made and we thought all was fine.
But all wasn’t as fine as we’d hoped and the reorganization just made it more difficult to look at the body of work from the last 10 years. This prompted a recent change to the galleries that have the most current bikes at the top along with some featured bikes and then some archive galleries lower on the page grouped by year.
In looking through them I think you’ll see that if nothing else I got a better camera and started to learn how to properly use it. I think you’ll also see a subtle shift in the way the bikes are made over time as well as the colors and paint schemes used to clothe them.
I just wanted to be sure everyone got a look at the updated gallery set up and to let you all know that we will be adding more years to the archives soon as time allows. So click on the ‘Photo Galleries’ link on the left and take a look.
Thanks so much for looking.
August 9th, 2013
Closing out the week with this deep, deep, black JKS. Next week it gets a Super Record kit and then it’s off to Switzerland. Have a great weekend!
August 1st, 2013
I owe the company, brand and man Serotta more than I can say. I grew up wanting to be a framebuilder and with a bit of luck and timing I landed at Serotta in 1989 and for the next ten years I was given a huge amount of latitude by the company and the man Ben Serotta to learn and experiment and grow as a framebuilder and a person. Don’t get me wrong………I worked long and hard but without the opportunity given to me I would never have made it out of the sandblasting cabinet.
With this as a background I was saddened yesterday to learn that after 41 years the company would be closing its doors soon. For those that haven’t heard what was going on you can get a good summary here –
The reasons that the company faltered and in time appears to have failed will be debated for a long time to come by both those in the know and know-nothings alike and I won’t get into that here but I will pay homage to Ben Serotta and the Serotta company ‘family’.
Frankly things didn’t go that well my first week on the job in October of 1989 and for a few days I thought I’d made a big mistake. But in short order I made friends with the people there and some of them have become lifetime friends that I can’t imagine ever losing track of. The skill of the young men who toiled day in and day out in the old school building was over the top and the free way they shared their experience made for a wonderful learning environment. Over time the company had hard times………very hard times to be frank……..but through it all the one true constant was the desire to make each and every bike the best it could be. There were times in the mid 1990’s when we all wondered if the doors would be padlocked the next morning when we came into work. Most of us took home anything we owned of value for fear that the place would be closed up with a banker at the door and we’d have to prove that it was personal property to be able to take it out of the building. Yet even with that hanging over the heads of the shop floor guys there was never a ‘fuck it!” attitude and each bike had to be as good as it gets. It was part of the groupthink and DNA of the place and those that spent their days there. This is, in my experience, not the norm in life let alone the bike industry and it made me very proud to be there and to be a member of the Serotta family.
I think the most exciting time of my work life was when Ben Serotta was buying back the company and the brand from the investor/owner that had control of the purse strings from the time I started there. There were a lot of kitchen table late night meetings in which a group of the key employees sat and talked for hours about what the company could and should be and what its mission should be. I think it speaks very well of all involved when it was stated that there were two core things that would drive the company – the bikes should be the best that could be built and that the employees should be treated with respect and paid well enough to realize the American dream of being able to own a home and raise a family. This ‘high tide raises all boats” philosophy is by no means the norm in any business let alone the bike biz. It made us all very proud to be associated with the brand. When Ben took control of the company back and we implemented the long thought about plans and they actually worked ……..well that was a very exciting time indeed. Nothing is more fun that making a plan, executing it and then having it work and without the dedication of all those involved the place would have died right there and then.
I left the company in 1999 to live in the snowy mountains of Montana and I left behind a family of folks I will never forget…………some I got along with very well and some that weren’t on my Christmas card list but good people all. Over time many people moved on to different things or places but some of those same people are still there today. I feel for them as they wrap up 10, 15, 20 years of memories and belongings as they prepare to walk out those doors for the last time.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Ben Serotta and thank him personally. To be honest Ben and I did not hit it off from day one – I was brash and rejected authority and he was the young boss who needed to assert just that and these things didn’t mesh that well. One thing we really had in common was the desire to make a better bike. It was on this common ground that we became work friends and in time personal friends. Life isn’t always easy and sometimes the shit really hits the fan and when this happened to me Ben was there to listen and understand and to buy me a beer ……. and listen some more. While he certainly was my boss he became much more and he showed his real quality as a person and a friend. I can only hope that I was the equal to him and that I held up my side of the friendship.
At the risk of this sounding more like an obituary and less like and homage I need to say that Ben Serotta isn’t dead – no far from it. Forty one years is a hell of a long run and something to be proud of. I hope he realizes his dream to build once again and that if he thinks I can in any way help that he’ll lean on me. Thank you for everything my friend. All the best to you.
July 26th, 2013
I realized recently that I’ve not been my overly chatty self lately and while some of you might be well relieved I have a bit of time this morning to break the silence.
It’s been a busy time for me and the business with a lot of sticks in the fire………..I’m working on a series of 10th Anniversary bikes and while waiting for the new c-stays to arrive in I’ve been cutting lugs and brazing/finishing front triangles. It’s been many years since I’ve worked in quantity like this and there is something fun about it………you do lots of prep work and nothing feels like it’s getting done and then once you actually start putting it al together it goes so fast it makes your head spin. I must say even after all this time watching something go from a bunch of castings and raw tubes to a useable machine in short order is really pretty damn fun.
This time of year is also very busy with my solo auto racing with events every other weekend to prep for and lots of courses to design for my local SCCA club. I really like the challenge of course design and there is much more than meets the eye once you get into it. I’ve attached a course map of a course design I just finished for our club’s largest event of the season this coming weekend in Helena Montana. Should be fun.
The weather lately has been typical Bozeman weather for this time of year – warm and super dry. Take a look at the temperature, humidity and dew points for the other day as shown on our home weather station. A bit hot by Bozeman standards and seriously dry by any standard – time for some lip balm. Riding this time of year can be tough – I like to ride in the afternoon if I can after work but 5:00 is typically the hottest time of day and getting on the bike when it’s 90° after a full day at the bench can be tough. I should ride in the morning and do when I can but it can be hard to carve out the time to make this happen and not feel like I should be at the bench. First world problems I know. Luckily this type of weather lasts for only a few weeks and then it gets a bit cooler and a little less dry and riding after work is just perfect. When it’s hot and sunny our cat Inga finds a place to sleep away the day in the shade. Smart girl she is.
Th plans for the 20-10 gathering are getting firmed up and the RSVP’s are starting to come in. Please let us know if you have any questions and of course get your RSVP’s in. It’s going to be a fun and relaxed time with some pretty rides and good food and company.
Time to run – I need to finish up a few things before heading north to set the course pictured below and enjoy a full weekend of solo racing. Wish me luck!