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Kirk Frameworks Interviews and Profiles

screen shot from bike rumor interview

Bike Rumor Interview
preview of 2011 NAHBS

NAHBS Proust interview screen shot

Proust Interview
from 2011 NAHBS

Red Kite Prayer screen shot

Red Kite Prayer interview, Part I

Red Kite Prayer screen shot

Red Kite Prayer Interview, Part II

Velocipede Salon screen shot

Smoked Out
questions and answers about Kirk Frameworks,
from the Velocipede Salon

NAHBS 2010 screen shot

Kirk Frameworks profile
from 2010 NAHBS

Framebuilder's Collective screen shot

Kirk Frameworks profile

from the Framebuilders Collective

Selected Interviews

Jump down to Red Kite Preyer Interview, Part I | Red Kite Prayer Interview, Part II | Proust Interview from 2011 NAHBS


Race to NAHBS! ADHD Interview: 11 NAHBS-Related Questions for Kirk Frameworks

From BikeRumor.com Posted by ThomP - February 18, 2011

This is by far the most comprehensive interview in our Race To NAHBS! series. Dave Kirk of Bozeman, Montana’s Kirk Frameworks took more than a couple minutes out of his schedule to compose these thoroughly thought out answers. Like many of the other builders we’ve heard from already, Dave would prefer not to fight Don Walker, a man he describes as “a cleaned up Chewbacca in a skirt.”

11 NAHBS-Related Questions:

BR: Are your plans for NAHBS a secret, or can you tell us a little bit about what you’re showing?

DK: My NAHBS plans are anything but secret. I’ve been sharing the design and build process of the show bikes on my blog and have posted photos of them there as well as at Vsalon. I’ve heard some say that they won’t show their bikes before the show to keep people in suspense and I suppose that might happen in some cases but I fully expect that the public will not just pass by my booth because they saw a photo of my work online.

I’ll be bringing 2 complete bikes and one fillet brazed frameset in the raw (sans paint). The two completes are new models for me. The first is the new JK Special X and it is a full on race bike in the spring classics tradition. It’s built of XL tubing (a mix of 953 and special chain and seat stays made for me by Reynolds) and features my curved Terraplane seat stays. This is my personal bike.

The second complete bike is a JK Special Classic. It too is a race bike and it is built with a special mix of OS tubes chosen and made just for the JKS series. It is also a lugged frame like the original JK Special but unlike the JKS it has a horizontal top tube.

The final bike is being shown as an unpainted frameset. It is a fillet brazed all rounder road bike and if I’m lucky I may win my 3rd NAHBS “Best Fillet” award with it. A 3rd would be fun.

Both the JKS Classic and the fillet frameset show bikes are available to purchase and special show pricing is in effect for these two bikes.

 BR: What about the booth, anything extra-special-crazy in the booth department?

DK: My booth this year is totally new for me and being the pragmatic guy I am I wanted it to be super functional as well as cool looking. It is a 4’x4’x7’ crate that holds the bikes as well as all the other stuff going to the show. When it gets there I open one side of the crate like a door and remove the contents and then open the crate further and it then becomes the backdrop and display for the bikes. It incorporates lighting and photos and signage and and all that stuff that one needs to show off the bikes well under bad convention hall lighting conditions. So nothing crazy for me. I just want a way to display my work that shows it off well and doesn’t require that I disassemble and bubble wraps bikes and stuff them into cardboard boxes at the end of the show. I will not miss the tape, newspaper and bubble wrap routine.

 BR: What do you see as the hot trend at NAHBS this year?

DK: It’s hard to say. I don’t spend much time looking around online at what others are doing and what the current trend is. My gut tells me that there is a move away from silly show bikes that can’t be used or ridden in a real way……….. Or maybe I’m just hoping that is the case. We’ll see in about a week I guess.

 BR: What is the lamest frame building trend ever?

DK: I don’t think anyone, myself included, would consider me as a good judge of trends……….. Or maybe I just can’t get behind any trend at all so I seem to disapprove of them all. That said – I think there was a trend with regards to NAHBS specifically that for some reason made (makes?) builders build silly things that will not stand the test of time and just don’t work well. These bikes made of leather or cork or copper get lots of photos taken of them but I often wonder if the person taking the photo is doing so out of admiration or in a mocking way.

BR: What is the most challenging or horrible thing you’ve had to do as a frame builder?

DK: A number of years ago I had a customer go through what turned out to be a complete mental breakdown while I was building his bike. I found out later that he suffers from mental illness and had gone off his meds and he just unraveled. Being the kind of guy who values customer service I wanted him to be happy and to enjoy the bike and he was so upset with everything and everyone there was no way that could happen. It was very difficult to deal with not knowing his health situation. I hope he is doing much better now. As hard as he made my life I’m sure his role was the harder one to play.

BR: What is your favorite type of bike to build?

DK: Finally an easy question. I like racing anything that can be raced (for me – bikes, skis, skateboards, snowboards and cars) and I might be a bit too competitive for my own good. So I tend to favor race bikes. I raced (pro BMX and MTB and amateur road) for a very long time and issues with my spine keep me from doing so still but I love the feeling of a good, simple, clean and properly balanced race bike. They are the most rewarding for me to use and the most rewarding to build. I like building road and cross race bikes the most followed by all-rounders that can be used most anywhere and used hard.

BR: As a frame builder is there anything you absolutely will not to? Like a not-without-a-gun-to-my-head type thing?

DK: Slider dropouts, eccentric BB’s and carbon monostays. There are lots of guys who are happy to build with this stuff but I’m not one of them.

BR:  Sum up your entire bicycle building philosophy in one word or less. Kidding. How about three words?

DK: Functional, simple, thoughtful.

BR: If you weren’t building bikes, what would you be doing?

DK: If I had to give it up today I’m move immediately into sports car suspension design. Have I mentioned that I like driving nearly as much as I like riding? Well, I do.

BR: Who is your bike-building idol? Who do you look up to?

DK: There are two and for different reasons. The first is JP Weigle. He has the ‘simplicity is beautiful’ thing down cold. Nothing fancy or extraneous but instead, functional beauty. If good design can be defined as ‘nothing left to be taken away’ then JPW has it nailed. The second is Sir Alex Moulton. His bikes are not beautiful in the conventional or popular sense but they are so functionally right that they end up being so. I don’t own bikes by any other builders but I hope to own a Moulton space-frame one day soon.

BR: This one is important. Of the people showing at NAHBS, who is the last frame builder you would ever want to fight? Like physically.

DK: I assume you have met Don Walker? The man is like a cleaned up Chewbacca in a skirt. What dumbass is going to pick a fight with that guy?

Thanks for asking me to play along. See you at the show.


Red Kite Prayer Builder Interview: Dave Kirk, Part I

RKP: Where are you based?

DK: I work from my home shop in Bozeman Montana. Bozeman is a small university and ski town of about 30,000 people located in southwest Montana about 90 miles north of Yellowstone Park. Bozeman is in a valley surrounded by mountains on every side and it’s the ‘big city’ in the area. When you leave town you have really left town and you can ride for miles and see no one at all. I like my solitude and I love Bozeman.

RKP: Is that where you grew up?

DK: No. I grew up in a wonderful small town in central New York State – Rome NY. The riding in the area is world class and for the most part no one knows about it. Every other road is called “farm to market’ road and they are all 1½ lanes wide and just meander through the countryside and farmland up and over 20% super steep climbs……… It’s like Belgium but with out cobbles and I speak the language. I lived in Rome until a few days after high school graduation and then a good friend and I took a road trip to Florida to meet girls. I ended up moving to Florida and went to school half-heartedly but raced BMX with gusto. The southeast was the place to be in the early 80’s for BMX.

RKP: What’s the riding like there (where you live now)?

DK: The riding around Bozeman is much different from Rome where I grew up. Instead of short uber-steep climbs Bozeman has very long alpine type climbs that go up to about 8000’. It’s easy to find climbs of 10 miles or more and it takes a much different mindset. You certainly don’t just stand up and hammer over them. Many of the roads here leave town and get narrow and rough and then turn to dirt. These are my favorite roads to ride. I like the feeling of being way out there and away from everything and slogging over the rough loose surface. I could do that all day. I ride alone most of the time. No wonder why I guess.

RKP: How long have you been building?

DK: I started working as a full time professional framebuilder in 1989 at Serotta in Saratoga Springs, NY. With the exception of one summer working as a water well driller and a few winters working as a snowboard school supervisor it’s all I’ve done since 1989.

RKP: How did you get your start?

DK: I was living in Rome NY and working at a bike shop in the area called “Dick Sonne’s Ski, Hike and Bike” when I got a call from a guy at Serotta. They knew of me through my racing and wrenching and needed more warm bodies in the building. I went and interviewed and Serotta at that time was in a barn with the paint booth being in the chicken coop. It wasn’t very impressive but I really wanted to work there. They offered me a job as a mechanic and I took it. About a week before I was to start I got a call from the same guy and he told me there was going to be a delay and could I start in two weeks. Sure, no problem. Two weeks turned into 6, which turned into 12, and I finally gave up. I started working at a small bike shop close to my home called Schuss Ski and Bike and about 2 years after that first call from Serotta I got another call. This time it was Ben Serotta himself and he told me he had just found out how I was treated first time around and apologized. He then told me they were looking for help in the frame shop and asked if I wanted to interview. The night before the interview I was out riding in the woods and stumbled on a bee’s nest and my hands were badly stung. They got so huge that I could barely drive. I went to the interview and kept my hands out of sight and it was all going well. I was then asked to go into the shop and use a few tools to they could judge my hand skills. I flopped my hands onto the desk and told them I didn’t think I could do that today. Everyone moved back a steep when they saw my freakish hands. They ended up offering me the job anyway and I started work as a framebuilder on October 2nd, 1989.

RKP: Is building your day job? If not, what else do you do?

DK: I am a full time professional framebuilder and it is all I do.

RKP: Have you held other positions in the industry?

DK: I started working as a kid in bike retail and as a mechanic. I’ve raced professional BMX and mountain bike and some road. I worked at Serotta for 10 years and ended up being the one man R&D department and was responsible for all new products, the tooling to produce them, as well and personally building the bulk of the bikes to be used by the professional teams Serotta sponsored at the time. I then moved to Montana and worked with Carl Strong as general shop help and he and I eventually formed a production company to produce Strong Frames as well and all the steel Ibis’. I then struck out on my own and formed Kirk Frameworks in June of 2003.

RKP: Do you ever work in a material other than steel?

DK: Over the past 21 years I’ve worked with most every popular frame material (and a few not so popular) but I now work exclusively in steel. I like working with and riding steel better than any other material. It speaks to me in everyway.

RKP: Who makes the tubing and lugs you like to use?

DK: I work with mostly Reynolds tubes but also use a bit of True Temper. The good folks at Reynolds make proprietary tubes just for me and they are vital to my getting the ride just the way I think it should be. For lugs I like Sachs and Llewellyn. I’m just introducing some dropouts of my own design and have plans in the works to expand my offerings. My job at Serotta was product design intensive and I missed the challenge. That combined with being unsatisfied by the parts available to the professional builder I decided I needed to design and make my own.

RKP: Tell us about the jig you use.

DK: I use Anvil frame and fork jigs. All my other tooling (bending, braze-ons, lug holders, etc.) I’ve designed and made myself. I love designing and making tools. It’s a lost art.

RKP: What sort of cutting and shaping of lugs do you like to perform? Does it vary from bike to bike or are there stylistic elements people can find running through all your bikes?

DK: I favor simple, purposeful and straightforward designs. While I like and admire frilly and baroque designs they aren’t what I like to do. My bikes are all a bit different but there is a common theme to the look. While I offer lugged bikes I also offer and love building fillet brazed bikes. I think the beauty of a properly proportioned fillet joint has few rivals.

RKP: When fitting a customer for a bike, how do you usually work? How often is it in person?

DK: Being in the middle of nowhere I get only about 3 people a year visiting for fittings. I welcome all to visit but understand that isn’t very often possible. I design the bike based on the customer’s body dimensions, and how the bike is to be used. I double check the design by getting the contact points of their current bikes as well as feedback on how they feel these bikes fit, ride and handle. I will sometimes ask for photos of the rider on the bike just to see how they tend to hold themselves. All of this info, along with the answers to an extensive questionnaire I send out, gives me a very full image of the rider and their needs.

RKP: Let’s talk about geometry: Would you say your all your bikes have a consistent ride that is your signature, or do you vary your geometry based on the customer’s preferences and needs?

DK: Some of both. I think all of my bikes ride like a ‘Kirk’ regardless of what the intended end use is. They all have that same Kirk DNA. I feel the most important thing is to be sure that the bike will fit and handle well considering how and where it is to be used. From there the numbers are picked to give a certain ride in those conditions. I like my bikes to have enough stability to give confidence and at the same time have a lot of ‘snap’ and jump’ to give the bike spring and life. This is done by not only getting the geometry right but also picking the proper tubes for the rider.

I feel very strongly about forks and every Kirk frame goes out the door with it’s made to match Kirk fork. I do not offer off the shelf forks. Each one is designed and built to match the frame’s geometry and the desired ride qualities. It’s next to impossible to get the handling and alignment just right when ½ of the design was done by someone else who knows nothing about the needs to the rider. The frame and fork need to be designed together to work properly together and to give the proper handling and ride.

RKP: Who does your paint?

DK: The one and only Joe Bell paints everything I build.

RKP: How long is the wait for new customers?

DK: As of January 2010 my wait is about 11 months from receipt of deposit to delivery.

RKP: What’s your pricing like?

DK: I offer two different levels of build. My standard lugged frameset sells for $2900 and a fillet brazed frameset is $3000. I also offer the JK Series names after my father John Kirk. They differ from my standard frames in that they use a bespoke blend of lightweight tubes (953, S3 and special tubes Reynolds makes for the JK series). I offer the JK Special road frameset for $3600 and the JK Cross frameset for $3700. All these prices include a single color Joe Bell Signature paint job. If the client wants more elaborate paint that is done at an upcharge.

RKP: What keeps the work fresh for you, gets you up in the morning (or out in the evening) and excited to build?

DK: I work a pretty standard work schedule and I do my best to never work too late or start too early and I never ever work weekends. I do my best work when I am fresh and rested and wanting more. This is hard to do sometimes because I really like the work itself. I love going over the tube bin and selecting the tubes to be used in a given bike and laying them all out for inspection and letting the process happen. It’s this process that keeps me excited and motivated. I’ve built thousands of bikes over the past 21 years and it’s always been the process that motivates me.

RKP: You’re part of the Framebuilder’s Collective. What was the motivation to get involved in an association devoted to what can be a pretty solitary craft?

DK: Can you say “herding cats?” I am one of the eight founding members of TFC and I originally became interested in forming a group after spending so many hours in the shop talking with Carl Strong. We were frustrated by the lack of resources for the new builder and by seeing so many talented and skilled builders hang their shingle, build some very nice bikes and then go out of business because they didn’t know how the whole business thing worked. And at the same time we saw plenty of other hobby builders hang their shingle when they were not at all ready to build bikes for paying customers. There is just no professional standard for building or business practices in this industry and each bad business transaction a customer has, and every poorly constructed handbuilt frame out there reflects poorly on the whole group of us professional builders. We want to do what we can to promote professional building and business practices and to further promote the image of the handbuilt frame.

RKP: What’s your life away from building like? Are you racing or do you have outside interests?

DK: I love to be outside and moving quickly. I ride my bike as much as possible in the mountains surrounding Bozeman, I snowboard and cross country ski and I race autocross. The autocross (also known as SCCA Solo) gives me that competitive rush I seem to need in a big way. I’m proud to say that I‘m two time state champion racing a Birkin S3 in the modified class and this year I’ll be moving into a 2005 Lotus Elise and trying to up my game. I like the process of learning to set up and drive the car at it’s limits. It’s always the process. I also love spending time with my wife Karin hanging out in the greenhouse or the garden, watching the plants grow. There’s not much better in life than getting back from a dirt road ride, cracking open a good dark beer and hanging out in the garden watching our four cats play and chase each other around. A good thing in every way.

Red Kite Prayer Builder Interview: Dave Kirk, Part II

There are lots of designs out there that claim to offer compliance. You’ve done some research on the subject, haven’t you? Do any of those swept seatstay designs really offer any sort of suspension effect?

I may be one of the only people on the planet that feels this way but I think road bike suspension is the Holy Grail of road bike design. I’ve done years of work on this and was awarded a patent for the Serotta DKS design. It’s patent number 6,109,637 and was awarded on August 29, 2000. It’s fun to look up and you can easily Google it.

Road bicycles are the only high-speed device raced in the world that I can think of that doesn’t employ some sort of device to improve traction. Everything from skis to cars to skateboards all employ suspension to great effect. Please note that I didn’t list comfort as being the primary reason for suspension even though one could make a very good argument for how added comfort will reduce rider fatigue and make them more competitive in longer events. I see road bike suspension as being a means to keep the rear tire pressed against the road with the most constant force possible, full stop. I think the rear wheel travel need be no more than 10mm max and that as little as 5mm can be extremely effective.

A traditional road bike has near perfect front suspension in the form of a cantilevered beam. The fork is allowed to flex a lot. Just clamp your front brake on firmly and rock the bike back and forth and watch how much the fork moves. Even super stiff forks move a good bit and this acts as a form of trailing arm suspension. The front wheel encounters a bump and slows as it tries to go over the bump yet the rider’s mass keeps the whole thing moving. The fork flexes rearward (and in the case of a properly designed curved blade fork compresses vertically) and then it rolls over the bump with very little interruption of the rider’s momentum or with the tire’s contact with the road.

The rear wheel is another matter entirely. With a traditional double diamond road frame the rear end of the frame forms a triangle and this triangle cannot move or at least cannot move in any meaningful way. So when the rear wheel encounters the same bump that the front wheel just sailed over it loads up the frame and that in turn loads up the rider and the rider then bounces off the saddle. This little bump redirected the entire mass and momentum of the bike and rider upward for just a moment and that has two effects. The first one is that there is a loss of forward momentum or speed and this obviously slows the rider down. Not a lot but we are constantly hitting small bumps in the road that do this and the cumulative effect is large. The second thing it does is lessen the pressure of the rear tire on the road. In many cases it loses contact altogether. Either way traction is compromised. If you are just rolling straight down the road without a need to turn or brake or accelerate traction is not a real issue. The rider doesn’t need the to use the full limit of the traction of the tire. But if the rider is cornering, braking, or accelerating then it’s a different matter. We’ve all gone around a fast downhill corner and had the bike all loaded up with the force of the turn and then hit a bump mid-turn and had to do some serious correcting to keep it all in line and on the road. Similarly we’ve all been sprinting at our limit for a townline sign at our local Tuesday night World Championships and had the rear wheel skip and bounce causing us to back off and/or correct to hold our line.

Well it takes very little rear wheel suspension travel to minimize or even completely eliminate the issue and I’ve spent more time working on this issue than I care to admit. The amount of time I’ve spent lying on the road with my face pressed against the cold hard ground so that I could see the rear wheel of the racers going by bounce is embarrassing. But that said it’s a real eye opener when you do this. There is daylight under the rear wheel all the time. The front is stuck like glue and the rear spends a surprising amount of time skipping and bouncing along.

Tell us about your involvement in the Serotta DKS suspension system.

Way back in the day when I was the R&D department at Serotta, Ben was very cool and gave me lots of leeway to work on what I wanted to work on. I’d seen some of the bikes like Ritcheys and Litespeeds with a long graceful bend in the seat stays and wondered if it could be a benefit. Ben and I were walking around the Interbike show one year and every other bike had this same curved stay and they all claimed it made the bike more comfortable. I didn’t give a damn about the comfort thing at all but I did care about the traction issue. Standing outside the hotel that night I suddenly had an idea of how to do it better.

So we went back to New York and I was excited to work on the idea. It turns out I was the only one that was excited but Ben let me do my thing as long as other stuff didn’t slide too much. So the first thing I did was to make a frame like everyone else was doing (simple long radius curve from end to end) and put it on my testing table and load it up (like the rider was hitting a bump) to see where and how much it moved. Most of the current designs had no more wheel movement than a traditional straight stayed frame, or less than 1 mm. So I started playing with different radii and duration of bends and while I could do better than what was being offered it still wasn’t worth the trouble in my opinion. I knew something else needed to be done to free up some movement. At the same time I was worried about fatigue issues where the stay attached to the seat tube and the dropouts. It was then that I flashed on the idea of putting a pivot at the bottom of the stay where is attaches to the dropout and then have most of the bend of the stay low so that most of the flex would take place there and not where the stay was welded to the seat tube. This not only took care of the fatigue issue but also allowed the stay to compress more allowing more rear wheel travel.

A this point I built a frame that had bolt on seat stays so I could make any configuration of stay I wanted and lab and road test them. Some stuff worked pretty well and some stuff really sucked. I ended up with the “J” curve design and it worked very well but I was concerned with it having too much travel and with it being bouncy. The stay was now acting as a spring but it had no damper to control its movement.

The next task was to figure out a way to damp the movement. What I originally wanted was rebound damping only and it proved very difficult to do in a simple and super light way. I then realized that if I gave it compression damping that it would have nearly the same effect because it would just interrupt the bouncing cycle. It was at this point that I developed the “strap on” which was a stainless steel strap with some special silicone made by GE to be an ‘ultra damper’, bonded to it. It was then bolted to the stay and acted as both a travel limiter and a damper. I ended up picking three different hardness’s to give more or less travel based on rider preference and/or weight. The funny thing was that I gave this damper part the nickname “strap-on” knowing it’s other meaning and we used the term inhouse and snickered about it the way boys do…… especially when one of the girls from the office would come out and ask if we had a strap-on or how a strap-on worked. Good fun. At some point the product was released and I couldn’t believe that the Serotta catalog listed that part as a “strap-on.” Somehow it got through editing.

In the end I think the design was successful. I wanted to continue to develop and refine it but at some point one needs to draw a line in the sand and call it good and sell some of the things. The design allowed for about 12mm of rear wheel travel for most riders, which I now think, was more than we needed. But it was a good first step and I would have liked to make the design more race oriented, more aero and lighter. But I had worked on the design for about 14 months and other stuff needed to be done so I moved on. I left Serotta shortly thereafter to move to Montana and to be in the big mountains and in the snow.

Serotta continued to produce and sell the bike for a few years after I left but it was never a big seller. I think that the sales and marketing folks there didn’t like the time it took to explain what it did and how it did it when they could just push the normal offerings and make the same money. The DKS (Dave Kirk Suspension) now has a cult following of sorts and I get a few emails a week about it with questions about how it works and about finding a used one somewhere. They seem to command a hefty price on eBay at this point. I think over the years I’ve had all of the big three bike companies contact me as ask about the design. One engineer even pretended to be a customer interested in buying one when in reality they were looking for a way around the patent. I think the Specialized Zerts inserts deal is a good example of the design being tweaked and using different materials to get around the patent. I’ve never ridden one but hear some folks like them.

Do you ever build with it today?

No I don’t. Even though I am listed as the inventor on the patent Serotta is the holder of the patent and it is their design. Some have told me they think this is unfair and I firmly disagree. Ben Serotta gave me a place to work and paid me well to develop the idea in the first place and without his backing it would have never been more than a napkin sketch in a bar at a tradeshow. He paid for it and he owns it. It was Ben that decided it should be called the DKS. I only found out it was named after me when the decals showed up and I was given one. I was honored then as I still am. Ben is a good man and treated me very well.

When I started my company I knew I’d revisit the idea at some point but also knew that there were changes I wanted to make if I could. The fact that I chose to work only in steel also required a major design change since the original DKS was titanium. I knew I wanted it to be firmer and to have less travel. I knew I wanted it to be less complex and cheaper to make and I knew I wanted it to look cooler. It was then that I developed the “Terraplane” design (Terraplane meaning “flies over the land”). I experimented with different tubing, bend radii as well and bend duration and then did a lot of road miles on prototypes to get the final design nailed down. Most riders will see 5mm or less of wheel movement with a Terraplane and one can’t not feel the difference from a straight stayed bike while climbing or sprinting. It takes a sudden and large load to get the wheel to move and the rider cannot move that fast so it will not react to rider movement. So there is no mushy or ‘MTB on the road’ feeling that some expect. The Terraplane just gives a more hunkered down and calm feeling than a traditional bike. Some folks will get their new Terraplane and ride it for a few weeks and then get back on the bike they rode before and only then feel the marked difference in cornering and descending. It can be a real eye opener for some.

I’ve extremely proud of the Terraplane and how it performs. Some love the look of it and some hate it and I know I can’t please everyone that way but I’ve never put someone on a Terraplane and had them not like the performance.

In your view, what are the pros, cons and challenges with regard to the development of suspension for road bikes? Do you think it would help that much?

I think that there are large gains to be had with a proper road bike suspension for the reasons I’ve listed above. I think the down side could be complexity and cost if the design isn’t properly elegant. There were some suspension road bikes years ago that were really short travel versions of MTB designs and they sucked for road racing use. It has just too much travel, weight and complexity to work as it should for the road.

I think the big thing that will prevent a good design from being adopted by the masses, and therefore be used in the pro race ranks, is that the marketplace is just too traditional. I think the marketplace pats itself on the back a bit too much for how innovative and forward thinking it is when in reality it hates anything truly new. A change in material from steel to aluminum to titanium to carbon to whatever is just fine but to do something truly different and better has historically not been rewarded in the performance road bike market. Look at all the crap being thrown at the new Shimano electric stuff. It work and works well and my hat is off to them for even going there but it’s not like it’s gotten a very warm reception. I’ll bet if they stick by their guns the marketplace will adapt and we will see the other two major players scrambling to catch up and we’ll see little kids riding around our neighborhoods pushing buttons to shift.

It’s going to take a bit of letting go of the traditional fashion of this industry to allow it to make any real jumps forward. Hell there are still interweb forums full of people arguing about which is better – sloping top tubes vs, horizontal tube tubes. It’s all fashion and that is just the way it works. I am for the most part OK with that but it can be frustrating at times. What did that Billy Crystal character on SNL say years ago? “It’s better to look good than it is to feel good?”

Thanks for the opportunity to address some of this stuff and thanks for reading.



NAHBS Proust Questionnaire: Dave Kirk Kirk Frameworks

 What is your idea of perfect happiness?

A sunny weekday morning, a few friends, and a ski hill covered with 2 feet of fresh powder and a Tanker 200 strapped to my feet...or maybe a sunny, summer, Sunday morning with warm race tires and an autocross course laid out in front of me...or a sunny weekend afternoon and Karin and the cats all lounging in the garden. See a trend? I like sun.

What is your greatest fear?

That the world will continue to progress toward even greater division and distrust between the political right and the left. This current trend doesn’t have a happy ending.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Abe Lincoln - he was tall and goofy looking too.

Which living person do you most admire?

Sir Alex Moulton. If you don’t know who he is you should google him.


What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

My getting frustrated with others for not being who I think they should be.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

I have absolutely no use or respect for those that lie and twist the facts to make their political points and to deny rights to others. I hope there is a special hot corner in hell for these people.


What is your greatest extravagance?

The ‘toy’ car that I race autocross with - a 2005 Lotus Elise Sport.


On what occasion do you lie?

"I don’t know who ate that last cookie"


What do you dislike most about your appearance?

Life would be easier if I wasn’t so damn tall.


When and where were you happiest?

1982ish, Pensacola Florida. I was racing BMX full time and had nothing to worry about. Riding for a living, even a rather meager one, is pretty damn fun.


If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would be less competitive - wanna race?


If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?

My parents would have enough money to move from the snow belt of upstate New York to somewhere where they don’t sell snow shovels in the hardware store.


What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Transitioning from a bike shop back room shop rat with limited education to a respected framebuilder who makes a living doing what I love to do.


If you died and came back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?

I’d be a ball bearing. Nothing would happen without me.


What is your most treasured possession?

I hardly ever look at it but I treasure it nonetheless - the military flag that covered my father’s coffin.


What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Boredom and apathy.


Who are your heroes in real life?

Colin Chapman - founder of Lotus Automobiles. I would have liked to meet him but he passed in 1982. He may have been the greatest mechanical genius of our time.


What is it you most dislike?

Ignorance coupled with false pride.


How would you like to die?

You mean now? Is that an offer or a question?


What is your motto?

"Work to live instead of living to work - life is short."