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William
07-28-2014, 07:06 PM
K. Bedford has been at the front of the Paceline for a while now but its time for Kelly to peel off and let Cranberry Township, Pa based builder Anthony Mezzatesta of Mezzatesta Custom Cycles to come to the front to take a pull. So, this week keep your eyes open and watch Anthony’s wheel...


Growing up in New York City, a neighbor brought over an old Legnano bicycle from Italy. The moment I saw that bike, I fell in love with cycling. When he retired from biking, he gave the bike to me. I was thrilled and rode that bike everywhere I possibly could. I was so passionate about riding that I would take the entire bike apart after every ride. I'd clean down everything and repack the bearings for the next day. Who cared about homework! Eventually, I grew out of that 52cm frame and purchased a Sakei. What a disappointment, nevertheless, I rode it for 2 years. It was this experience that drove me to building my own frame. At age 17, I contacted Vic Fraysee of Paris Sport Cycles in New Jersey. With a little encouragement, he suggested I build my first frames out of Durifort tubing. I purchased 3 sets of tubing and with his advise and that of the late, great Francesco Cuevas, I began my frame building career. In 1980, I moved to Portland, Or. and worked for another great builder, Jim Merz. While in Oregon, I attended the Oregon College of Arts and Crafts and studied hand engraving and jewelry design. These experiences added much to my frame building techniques. In 1981 I returned back to New York and settled in the Poughkeepsie area where I built frames for over 20 years. I built frames for the Hudson Valley Velo Club team, the Vitesse Cycling Team (now Verge) and some for the Mangoni team. I now reside in Western Pennsylvania and have recently built for the Mezzatesta/Kraynick Cycling team....

http://www.mezzatestacustomcycles.com/index.html




Anthony was kind enough to take a moment and answer a list of questions for us that are a mix of standards and member contributions...plus a few off-the-wall thrown into the mix. Our hope was to convey the builders love of their craft, hard details, and offer a few questions that bring out a bit of the human element that that helps them create the works that we love.




A little Q & A with Anthony Mezzatesta!

How / why did you decide to become a frame builder?
As a young teenager I would go for a rides through Manhattan to Central Park on a close to daily basis on my Legnano sport bike, which was given to me by a neighbor. These rides would take me past the bikes shops of NYC; Styversant,Toga and Conrads where I would look at the frames and bikes and dream. As I got older and grew out of the Legnano, I purchased a Sekai frame and road that for about a year. I was very uncomfortable on it and very disappointed. So I decided I wanted to build myself a frame. I was about 17 at the time. I taught myself to braze and weld and by the age of 19 my "Mezzatesta Orginale" was built.


What influences the artistic side of your designs?
A good portion of the asthetic side of my frames comes from seeing those Italian and the British beauties at the bike shops, especially the British frames like Holdsworth, Hetchins, and Bates. After working with Jim Merz for a short time, I was able to learn his technique of building and grew to appreciate the beauty of a simple lug and or fillet brazed frames that so many other American builders are producing and I learn from them as they are learning from me.


What is your method to determine fit?
I use a technique developed by a close friend and fellow cycling enthusiast, Dr Thomas Starace. The stand over height, pubic symphisis location, and the ride position from your favorite bike are all factors used to determine the perfect fit.


What is it that keeps you passionate and focused?
I love building, it is my artistic expression. Each frame is as individual as its owner. I derive joy in seeing my customers happy with my creations in steel.


Can you tell us about your first bike? What did you love (or love to hate) about it?
My 1st frame and fork was a track frame I built for myself. I rode it on the streets of Manhattan. I called it the "Originale" . I built it from Reynolds 531 DB tubing and Bocama lugs. It was crudely brazed, but road very nice. The next frame was a road frame built for myself out of 531 tubing and Prugnat lugs. The brazing was much cleaner and nice and it road better than the Legnano.


How many times have you burned yourself?
I expect to get a moderate burn at least once per frame, because I handle the frame quite a bit while brazing. I also expect to get cut or stabbed at least once per frame.


What's your favorite beer?
It seem like the person asking this question knows more about me than you are letting on.
In the late 1980s through the late 90s I was doing a large amount of homebrewing, and would give a six pack of my latest brew to anyone that purchased a frame from me. My favorite of my home brews was the
Bass A-like Ale. I blended the the malts and hops to taste like a Bass ale. That went over very well at the homebrew club in the Hudson Valley. I had labels made for the bottles of a cyclist riding on a Mezzatesta chasing after a fishing pole with a beer hanging on it. We called it "Beer Chaser Brew". Funny. My favorite commercial beers are Walter Pilsner and Watneys Cream Stout.


Heard any cool music lately?
I am a classically trained vocalist. The music I listen to is Classical. My favorite arias are "Dalla Sue Pace" from Don Giovanni And "Nessun Dorma" from Turondot because I love to sing them. And I love all of Handel's "Messiah". However, my favorite baroque piece is "La Folia" by Archangelo Corelli (some time called Folies D'Espagne) It is awesome.


How did you meet your spouse or significant other?
My Wife Catherine and I, grew up In Greenwich Village, NYC. I grew up on Sullivan St, right of Washington Square Park and she grew on Bleecker St. of 7th Ave. about a 1/4 mile from each other. we went to the same grade school, even had the same family friends, but never really meet. I was in high school, Power Memorial Academy, and a year older than she. A local priest and choir director asked me to join his teenage choir to add support for the adult choir, I guess he heard me screeming in the streets. No, Actually, we would go riding together, he owned a Battalini, When I started singing in the choir, she started to laugh, when I turned to see who was laughing at me and saw her, I knew she was to be my life long companion. I was 15 and she is still my best friend. I thank Yah every day for her... Every morning, when I see her, my heart jumps..


What's there to do for fun in your town?
I live out side of Pittsburgh, PA. now. You can go to the Opera, concerts, see the Pen's, the Steelers and the Pirates, go hiking, hunting, fishing, ride the trails, road bike and very soon hopefully, track bike, etc there is always the museums and plenty of sight seeing to do.........


Do you put ketchup on your _Hot Dog_?
I only use ketchup on my all beef or turkey hot dogs at last resort.


What type of bicycle is requested the most for you to build? Road, cross, track, fixed...?
Most of the frames I have requested to build are sports-road and touring frames I do get the occasional mountain frame and, at late, more randonneurs.


Who would you want to build a bike for you?
Only me. There are a lot of great builders out there , but I know my capabilities and I believe I'm the best.


What is it about your approach to building/designing bikes makes you
unique, or separates you from the other builders out there?
I build one frame and fork at a time, all by hand. After I receive the sizing info, I do with a full size drawing, verify the info with the purchaser, if all is good, I order what is needed, when I'm ready I cut the tubes, clean and shape the lugs, which can take days of work, if they are to be fancy and if they are to be used. If I have to make special joints or fittings, I do so. Than, I start the brazing and soldering as needed, I build the old proven way, one joint at a time tacking and checking alignment constantly, and brazing so that the frame is built with as little stress as possible. Each joint I filled and polished before moving to the next joint. when the frame and fork are finished, I check the alignment, mill the faces and BB, etc. and painted. I try to remember to take pictures of the process, so you can see the frame as develops. I'm a one man shop, I do it all from start to finish, including paint. Unless the frame needs to be plated, I do it.


Through your growth and progression as a frame builder, can you share a high point, and a low point that you feel helped shape who you are as a builder today?
Years ago Reynolds required you to be certified in order to use their 753 tubing. To be certified, you needed to present to Reynolds a couple of brazed joints. Many builders took several attempts in order to certify. I passed on the first attempt and received a letter from Reynolds along with the certification certificate stating that my braze was the cleanest and best they had seen. This also allowed me to be one of the first builders to be able to purchase 853 from them. This recognition from a leader in the tubing industry was quite a acknowledgement to me and made me know that I am one of the top builders out there. Of course, not being able to make a good living at doing what I love is a frustrating thing for me. But these all keep me striving to be the best at what I do.


In any line of work, there is always something in the process that people feel they really excel at. What is that part of the process for you?
I guess I could say, brazing, torch control, and alignment.


How long is your wait list?
The waiting list varies from 3 months to 1 year.


How long have you been building frames.
2013 is my fortieth year of building..


Do you have a favorite part of the building process?
Brazing is my favorite part of building.


What is the most unusual / unique bicycle you've ever built?
You wouldn't consider these bikes, but it is the most unique build I did. In the early 90's I was contacted by a fraternity of Carnegie Mellon University to build a couple of chasis for their buggy race and I did build them.


What is your favorite non-cycling obsession?
Besides my wife, it would be Biblical studies and Theology.



Many thanks to Anthony for taking the time to answer our questions! Please feel free to ask him any questions that pop up while admiring his work.

William


PS: In case you missed it, the previous Builder Spotlight can be found here... (http://forums.thepaceline.net/showthread.php?t=147334)
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William
11-17-2014, 06:22 AM
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Bruce K
11-17-2014, 09:45 AM
Very pretty stuff

BK

William
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mhespenheide
11-21-2014, 02:40 AM
Tony!

If you're watching this thread, this is Mark Hespenheide, who you gracious enough to let hang around your shop a few times back in the Hudson Valley Velo Club days in Poughkeepsie when I was still a junior racer. At least partially on your advice, I never did take up framebuilding, but I've always appreciated the art of it. Looks like you've developed an amazing touch with intricate lugs, and your seatstay caps were always beautiful. I still have the custom 15cm steel quill stem you made for me, although mostly for sentimental reasons...

I hope you and Catherine are well in Pennsylvania and best wishes for continued success in framebuilding. Thanks again for being willing to let me watch the process and pester you with questions.

Cheers,
Mark.

William
11-17-2015, 12:49 PM
:cool:





William

that guy
11-25-2015, 05:18 PM
Anthony once braced a set of fender eyelets onto a frame for me. It was a quick and dirty job but that's what I wanted. He was super cool about it and let me hang out in the shop (a garage space) while he worked.