Laborers of Love – Three Part-timers Building Rideable Art

Posted on 28. Feb, 2010 by NAHBS News in 2010 News, Featured

So you’ve seen the late night infomercial that promises fame and fortune from opening up a framebuilding shop in your garage?

No, you haven’t.  And you never will.

Handmade bikes are not about the money.  They’re about the love of bikes, the coming together of technology and art, and creating something of enduring value – even if it can’t be measured in dollars and cents.

Foresta1. Foresta Bikes

Craig Forest Ryan of Foresta Bikes teaches Studio Art in the Noblesville, IN school system.  At nights and on weekends, wife Susan relents and lets him pursue his other passion.  What he produced for his first NAHBS was a work of rideable art that may or may not ever sell.

Like many craftsman builders, Ryan takes complete control of the production process from rider measurement to clear coat.  In his two and a half years of building frames, he’s built a small fleet that hangs in his garage for now.  He’s hoping to open for business in the near future.

“I didn’t want to sell until my investment in liability insurance could be paid back,” Ryan says.  ”I also want to be absolutely sure that my best possible work is ridden by customers.  You can’t rush true craftsmanship.”

Helm2. Helm Cycles

Twenty-three year old Herbie Helm is not yet out of college.  The Industrial Technology student at Western Michigan University builds at his mentor Doug Fattic’s shop when his studies allow.

Helm displayed the magnum opus of his young life for the first time at NAHBS.  The beautiful lug work, gracefully curved seatstays and “flying buttress” cable stops of his frameset displayed artistry not seen from many veteran builders.

When Helm graduates this spring, he hopes to become a teacher.  ”I’m not holding my breath about becoming a full-time builder, but I’ll keep doing it anyway,” he says.

Palermo3. Palermo Bicycles

Palermo Bicycles come not from the sun-dappled isle of Sicily, but from owner Tom Palermo’s home studio in Baltimore, MD.  By days, he’s a web developer for the Federal Government.

The one-man operation came to life in 2003, when Palermo began plying his trade repairing frames in the back shop of Proteus Bikes in College Park, MD, once home to Japanese/American builder Koichi Yamaguchi.

-Matt Butterman

Photography:  Dave LaMay and Matt Shields

2 Responses to “Laborers of Love – Three Part-timers Building Rideable Art”

  1. Lee Bridgers says:

    To me Herbie Helm’s frame was best in show (must give Dario Pegoretti a very close second for his flowered Marcelo) this year. Perfection is unattainable, but Helm’s work comes so close that it resembles perfection. For such a young builder to shine so brightly certainly bodes well for his future as a builder. I wonder if anyone bought it. If only I were a wealthy man. Art for the sake of art. Thank you, Herbie.

  2. Chris Ryan says:

    Nice looking bikes!

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