Pass the Torch is a concept I’ve been thinking about for some time. Its intent is to allow frame builders to share stories from their workshops. Whether it’s technique, random thoughts, or even, as in this case, production procedures, Pass the Torch will (hopefully) be a great, well-rounded resource for builders and nerds alike (myself included).
The first person to contribute is Mitch Pryor from Map Bicycles. Mitch creates some of the most elegant randonneuring frames and he documents his process with apparent ease. It’s not easy for frame builders to take the time to photograph their work, so I appreciate the time and energy Mitch puts into doing so.
These 3D printed lugs caught my eye and prompted me to reach out to Mitch and ask a few questions. Read on below and in the Gallery captions, as Mitch discusses a recent development in lugwork for his Randonneur Project.
Words and photos by Mitch Pryor
The laminate process is unique in that it allows a LOT of options in joinery and a more modern aesthetic than a casting, in my opinion. With the bi-lam, you not only get total flexibility of joining tubes of any size at any angle, but you get a very clean look with a traditional feel, and more personality than a straight fillet.
When I started doing the Rando Project, I was using lugs and building all those different sized bikes using the same castings was not ideal. Fit up has to be just right for everything to turn out spot on, and I wasn’t happy. It was a fight. Inspiration to try the bi-laminate approach came from looking at pictures of the French constructeurs tandems.
Here is where they had the same problem as me – no lugs would work. I made the switch to this approach in 2010 and have been doing it since. It’s a lot of work for style, so it costs, and that’s why I started working with Steelman on the S&P frames. It’s been working out great, but the urge to complete the look of a lug of my own design has been hard to resist.
That’s where Jono came in. Since I work primarily with physical things, it’s been hugely helpful to be able to model different design possibilities with Jono’s help. The 3D printed lugs you saw are what we arrived at over the past year of fooling around and tweaking the design. With the 3D samples we can actually miter tubes and set up the fixture as if these are actual lugs, to check angles, fit, and proportions.
3D printing makes it easy to dream, but reality is that tooling for the casting molds, and required minimums, make turning these laminates into investment castings very cost prohibitive to a company of my size. I’m planning to do the extra work of building with them as two laminates for now, fillet-brazing them together and then silver-brazing the frame, until I’m convinced there is enough reason to pursue a new casting.
Maybe a Kickstarter approach marketed to the framebuilder community to gauge interest. We’ll see.
Follow Mitch’s work at the Map Bicycles Flickr.
This is something else. Mitch has been cranking away at the 2012 Randonneur Project builds and he’s posted up a few to the Map Flickr. I don’t think that color could get any smoother. It’s like butter.
So you just moved to Portland and you sold your car, looking for a more efficient way of getting around. Time to buy this Map 650b Disk-ville. $6,800 gets you this complete bike, locked and loaded with the nicest quality parts. This was at the 2012 NAHBS (as a raw frame) and is quite the looker. I bet the ride is worth every penny… See more details here.
Photo via Map’s Flickr
After a successful run last year, The MAP Randonneur Project is on again for 2012. I’m not sure what the details are for 2012, but here’s the gist from last year:
“The MAP Randonneur Project is a traditionally inspired, light-weight randonneuring bicycle made for fast, long rides, mixed terrain, and big 650B tires. Combining the best in modern materials, classic style, and proven randonneuring geometry, the frame, fork, and rack have been designed as a unit to go the distance and provide the ultimate in comfort.
Each bicycle is custom-sized to your specification by choosing individual seat tube and top tube lengths. Provisions for generator lighting, fenders, water bottles, and frame-pump are all standard features. Frame-tubing is chosen based each individuals weight and riding style for the best ride characteristics possible.
In order to keep as close as possible to the custom process, only a small number of framesets and racks are produced each year. Building begins in December with delivery by June. Deposits of $1000 are taken until my capacity is reached.
The cost of the frameset including the same single-color finish included on all other MAP Bicycles is $3000 and the matching chrome plated handlebar bag rack is an additional $375″
All I can say is email them for more information.
Mitch from Map Bicycles‘ work was some of the nicest at the 2012 NAHBS. Every last detail on all of his bikes was well thought out and constructed with care. My favorite was his French-fendered, triple triangle, porteur city bike. I could spend all day with out outdoors, giving it lens love but unfortunately, every time I went by the booth, it was being swarmed with people. Other bikes in the booth included a full-loaded touring bike and a gorgeous road frame, complete with barcons and Mafac-brakes. It was great to finally put a face to a name and a company. Next time I see Mitch, hopefully it’ll be on his home turf. Till then, be sure to check out the gallery.