The North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) takes place this month in Richmond VA and Rapha will be there amongst America’s finest frame builders. Of the exhibitors, Florida’s Villin Cycleworks will be present for the third year running.
Florida’s sub-tropical humidity accommodates the balloon-tyred cruiser more readily than slender racing machines. Alexis Dold and Joe Marchionno’s workshop in Gainesville FL makes the bridge between old crafts and new technology, constructing idiosyncratic frames that are a refreshing departure from the ubiquitous track frame.
They have recently employed the ancient processes of forging and pattern welding to give their pieces a uniquely artisan energy.
I’m using 1095 high carbon steel and pure nickel that I heat in a forge and hammer together. I fold it and repeat it. It’s the same way swords and knives are made. First I make a flat plate then I cut out the pieces I want and shape them. An acid bath knocks back the color of the steel so it contrasts with the nickel.
Alexis refused to bore me with the details of the shaping, sanding and polishing but the finished article is mesmerizing. There is a modest yet slightly eccentric beauty that comes across in Villin’s frame-works. Alexis and Joe express their ideas through bikes, and they seem to be more articulate than many other builders I have seen of late.
See more at villincycleworks.com
Alexis acknowledges Dr Steve Bloom at ironflower.com for his support.
See the finished bike at NAHBS 2010 (Feb 26-28, Richmond, VA)