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Old 09-06-2012, 01:35 PM
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William William is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 27,340
Meech Custom Bicycles

Engin Cycles has had a monster pull at the front of the Paceline for a while now but its time for him to pull off and let Arkansas based Dimitri Harris of Meech Custom Bicycles take a pull. So, this week at the front of the Paceline: Meech Custom Bicycles.

My name is Dimitri Harris and I am a new custom bicycle frame builder. I started building frames about 4 years ago and decided to go learn from a pro so I headed out to Rifle, Colorado and spent two weeks with Koichi Yamaguchi. He is one of the most interesting people I have ever met and I am thankful to have worked with him. Thanks Koichi! Since then I have just been building one frame after another and learning as much as possible along the way. I build steel fillet-brazed frames that go by the name of MEECH, its an old nickname that I have had since I was a kid. I build mostly cyclocross frames because I love their versatility however I also do road,single-speed, and mountain bikes as well. All my frames are handmade by me here in Mountain Home, Arkansas
Dimitri was kind enough to answer a list of questions for us that are a mix of standards and member 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. Dimitri is also a member of the forum so if you have additional questions you would like to ask him about his craft, please do so.

1. How or why did I become a builder?

I have always been on bicycles and motorcycles my whole life and after i quit racing bicycles I just wanted to continue riding and spending time
around bikes. I remember telling my wife and maybe a couple of friends that I thought it would be cool to make 4-5 bicycle frames and just
have them out there in the world somewhere, hopefully with people riding them. I had visions of people finding an old bicycle 50 years from now
in an old garage and it would have my name on it. I guess I felt like I wanted to leave something behind, something good, something positive, and
then my wife found Yamaguchi's classes online. After coming back from that learning experience I knew I would not just build a handful, it felt like something
I would continue and I've been working on bike frames almost everyday since then.

2. What influences the artistic side of your designs?

I don't really consider myself an artist so to speak but I know there are many reflections of art in framebuilding. Some builder's frames are true
pieces of art, actually too nice to ride, and that is cool and all, and I love checking those pieces of work, but my personal taste is to build a frame, a high-quality,
performance based frame that is gonna get ridden and raced on an everyday basis. If someone is out there just putting in miles and beating the hell out of one of my
frames I love it. I want you to ride the paint off one of my frames. If someone looks at one of my frames and sees art in it I appreciate that as well however riding
influences my drive to build frames more than art does.

3.What is my method to determine fit?

Most all my customers are experienced cyclist and tell me what size frame and geometry they would like. They have ridden enough to know what
they want. If they don't know, I usually start with one of their previous bikes that is a favorite in comfort and rideability and work off of that and if they need
to make any small changes i can tweak it for them. Otherwise I just start at ground zero with measurements, riding style, and the intended use of the bike.
If they live close, they can come by and I can see them on a bike and that makes it much easier however most of my customers are from other areas. On occasion
I have people send me photos or videos of them on their bikes and that can help as well.

4.What keeps me passionate and focused?

I tend to get bored with doing the same thing over and over quite easily however when I am working for someone else that is key to my motivation. I don't
want to let anyone down. I want to make sure that you get the frame you are expecting me to build, I want you to love it.

5. How many times have i burned myself?

If we're talking about just within framebuilding probably thousands of times. If we're talking about a lifetime of playing with bottle-rockets, M-80s, and gasoline
probably about a million times. Me and my friends once burned down the neighborhood baseball field with a railroad dad did not have any eyebrows for a month. I use to create jobs for firemen.

6. Whats my favorite beer?

I don't drink a lot of beer these days. Its usually whatever someone hands me. When I was younger it always seemed like I was drinking something
with the name Milwaukee on it. Because it was cheap.

7. Heard any cool music lately?

I stumbled onto a couple of videos on youtube with a group of really young kids called the Zanibar Aliens. They look like they are 14-15 years old
and they jam. They cover some tunes like Zeppelin and they have some originals also. Other than that I usually listen to mainstream rock n roll,
Pearl Jam, Blind Melon, White Stripes, Black Keys, etc. Just for the record I hate country music.

8. How did I meet my spouse?

I was working as a cook in the Country Club kitchen and she was a server there. We're made for each other. I love her.

9. What's there to do for fun in my town?

I live in beautiful Mountain Home, Arkansas. We have two huge, super-clean lakes here, Bull Shoals and Norfork. Then coming off those
lakes are two beautiful rivers, the Norfork and then the White River. If you're into water sports and fishing this is the place. Then we also
have miles of some sweet rolling hills around here that you can get your fix on a bicycle as well. Come on down!

10. Do I put ketchup on my hotdog?

No, I like Mustard.

11. Who would I like to build a bike frame for me?

Ahh man, there are so many really good builders out there but I would have to say Koichi Yamaguchi. He seemed so in tune with the bicycle frame, a great teacher as well. I was thinking I would really like to ride one of Nick Crumpton's carbon frames as well.

12. What is it about my approach to building or designing bikes that makes me unique or separates me from other builders?

I don't really know this because I'm sure that all the builders as a whole have similarities and differences, but I view my process
of building as a constant learning experience that I want to continue to learn to make better frames for the riders and just get as good
as I can. I'm not in competition with any other builders, my only concern is how good can I make this frame that I'm working on at the moment.
I do however look at other work and how they do things to try and learn more. I would love to be around more builders, unfortunately I don't
have that opportunity right now. I would love to work with Yamaguchi for a year just to learn as much as possible, I'd come back a lean, mean,
frame building machine. One thing I do that I know others may do as well is I post almost all my builds on my blog so that customers get
to see their frame in the making. This way they know that my work ethic goes into each and every frame. Sometimes I feel like I bore people
with these photos of fillet-brazed bottom brackets or head tubes that all end up looking basically the same but I do it so that the customer gets to see the work
that went into their frame or so that the person who is new to building and my website can see it. The only thing I can actually say about my approach
that separates me from other builders is that the heart and soul that goes into the frame is mine, its my personality, it my style, its my love, whereas, with another builder
its his heart and soul that goes into it.

13. What is my wait list?

Normally I get customers their frame within about 90 days but I'm constantly in contact with my customers so they know if its gonna be earlier or later.
There are no surprises because they are watching it being built.

14. How long have I been building frames?

About 4 1/2 years.

15. Do I have a favorite part of the building process?

Not really, however I draw each frame up by hand the way I was taught and whenever I start drawing it up it starts to feel kinda like, "Ok,
you are gonna be hanging out with this frame for a few days.", and by the time you're done you feel like you know that frame, you do know it.
Each time I start to draw up a new frame its kind of a refreshing feeling because you
know you just finished one up for someone and now we're gonna do a new one. Building the rear triangles and the forks are the most intrigueing.
Cleaning up the fillets is the most cumbersome for me but thats also where a lot of the beauty lies so its a love/hate kinda thing.

16. What is the most unusual bicycle I have built?

Nothing too crazy to speak of. I prefer straight-forward, lightweight, performance-oriented bikes. My personal preference is to make
it as tight and streamlined as possible for the task at hand. Every once in a while I'll get some crazy ideas just for looks but I seldom build it
because I feel like I'm going in a direction that doesn't truly interest me. But one of these days maybe I will act on it, for a show bike or something.
I have built one carbon fiber bike frame and that was a challenge. I plan on building more in the near future
but I just haven't had the time or money to get deep into it, but it will happen.

17. What is my favorite non-cycling obsession?

Wow, I don't know anymore. I used to love riding motocross but my body can't take it anymore. I miss that more than anything.
I truly enjoy hanging out with my wife and the dogs and cats, also my friends. I don't seem to do that much any more. Oh, I did just recently start to paint
my own frames and that has had my attention for a while. Oh yeah, I'm obsessed with Spain. Andalucia to be precise. Beautiful place, beautiful people.
I love it there.

18. En-ve-lope or on-ve-lope?

Is that some sort of Latin phrase? I don't have a clue.

Many thanks to Dimitri for taking the time to answer our questions!


PS: In case you missed it, the previous Builder Spotlight can be found here...

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