Art, Craft, Function and Simplicity and the Racing Bicycle.

Part of me feels as if we builders are so far removed from our historical purpose and place, to build a useful competent sporting good for an athlete, that we are lost. In the space left behind, we have instead sought and begged and pleaded for an appropriation of our bicycle by New York style critics and style mavens. — Frame builderĀ Craig Gaulzetti

I was once warned to never start a piece of writing with someone else’s words. I’ve tried my best to heed the advice given to me by Kelly Cordes, but today I see fit to walk all over said rule. The above quote is from Craig Caulzetti column on Embrocation Cycling. I was immediately drawn to Craig’s words. Perhaps because I ride a bike that was not meant to be a fine work of art, but a finely honed tool built for the job of racing. Perhaps I was also drawn to his word because of the my experience with a purpose built, yet beautiful, piece of craft equipment. These weren’t bikes, but backpacks.

I’ve talked about the local company Cilogear a lot on these pages. Not because the owner allowed a no nothing punk like my self to cut the very fabric that is the life blood of his company. I LOVE these packs because they are beautifully constructed pieces of art that are meant to be used and abused by the hardest working group in the outdoor industry, Mountain Guides.

In my opinion Graham’s packs epitomize the phrase “function over form. By sticking to that ideal Cilogear is making “the most significant alpine packs”. What does this have to do with Gaulzetti’s op-ed?

I’ve never ridden one of Craig’s bikes, something I hope to fix at some point, but I’ve heard good things. But it takes some balls to make a racing bike out of an alloy that seems to have passed it’s glory years. There’s a lot of talk about the “realness” of steal. Enough year’s haven’t passed for us to be nostalgic for Aluminum.

Craig tells his fellow builders that “are not artists”. For me the art of a bike lies in its simplicity and function. The work that goes into the 10,000 dollar Townie could be used to raise the skills of the builder. However, a bike should never be elevated to the level of museum piece. They should be ridden. Often and hard. Along meandering country roads, up steep gravel roads, and down fast techy descents. I hope the builders attending NAHBS never forget that.

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