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  #61  
Old 09-19-2012, 05:13 PM
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jr59 jr59 is offline
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Hey Dave,

I got a question;

What would you be doing if you weren't a frame god....I mean builder?

Note; Race car driver is not an option!

Also glad to hear about the 10th anv bike. Please keep us informed.
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  #62  
Old 09-19-2012, 05:42 PM
dave thompson dave thompson is offline
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Originally Posted by David Kirk View Post
Thanks all for the kind words. I love to hear that folks have my work on the short list.

Yes Sir William - there will be a 10th Anniversary bike. I'm working on some stuff and don't know when I'll have it finalized nor what the price will be but I can say that there will be a max of ten of them and they will all be made to measure of course. Other than that I ain't saying.....for now.

Dave
Hmmm....

10 years?!?! Wow, time does fly. It doesn't seem that long ago that I drove to Bozeman and met a pretty damn nice guy. Who built me a bike. And again. Maybe I should put my chip in now.

Last edited by dave thompson; 09-19-2012 at 05:44 PM.
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  #63  
Old 09-19-2012, 06:12 PM
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Uncle Jam's Army Uncle Jam's Army is offline
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I will pile on to the Kirk love fest here and say that Dave delivered me an incredible S&S coupled frameset last December that was absolutely beautiful and a joy to ride. I sadly had to part with it a few days ago to a very nice forum member in order to raise capital for my new business venture. I hope to have Dave build me another bike in the very near future, as lugged (or fillet-brazed) doesn't get any better than what Dave turns out.

Keep on, keeping on, Dave!
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  #64  
Old 09-19-2012, 06:33 PM
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David Kirk David Kirk is offline
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Originally Posted by William View Post
Dave,

We always hear about the building process and the customer testimonials (which we all love to hear about), but are there any disruptive forces that you have to deal with in the business? Getting tubing, lugs, large bike company competitors, etc....? What are the outside forces a FB has to deal with in running their biz?




William
It's interesting to me that I've been in the bike biz since 1980 when I was racing and took my first job in a retail shop and for all that time I've heard bike biz folks proudly proclaim that 'the bike biz is different than other business". For a long time I believed it not having anything to compare it to.

Over the years I've also worked in the ski biz, in the snowboard instruction biz and the water-well drilling biz and oddly enough those guys also say that 'our business doesn't follow the same rules - it's different'.

Now what I have learned is that while there may be small things that are quirky in any of these different businesses they are all fundamentally the same as each other and..........that to be successful at any of them that one needs to have the full package.

To bring it close to home.........I know of some fabulously talented f-builders who can't take enough orders to make ends meet. I know lots of skilled sales guys who can build a nice bike who can't balance the books and operate at a profit. I know some guys who can't manage their cash flow and despite the fact that they make money they never seem to have any. I think being successful in this f-building gig one needs to not be the best at any one of these disparate skills but needs to at least be good at them all. If the guy can't wear all the hats, and wear them well, they will not make money and the business will not be sustainable. In order to do this in the long term.......say 10 years........the business needs to generate profit.

This rounded view of the business is one thing that so many new guys don't have and unfortunately don't seem interested in developing. Unless they can wear all the hats they won't be able to do what they want to do.

------------------------------------------------

All that said I don't love all the different aspects of my job. I don't get excited by charting out my cash flow or managing my raw material inventory. I do however like the options that profit brings. In my case profit has allowed me to put money back into the biz to do things like develop my own parts and tubes that in the end I feel give the ride a bike should have. That is fun. So the boring stuff paves the way for the fun stuff.


------------------------------------------------

So to more directly answer your question - when I started this I thought I would spend most of my time at the bench making stuff - the part I really do enjoy. Once I got deeper into it I found that to be profitable that I needed to manage lots of things aside from nice fillets and lug lines so I ended up spending more and more time in the office. I didn't like this so much at first but as time has gone on I've realized I like most of it and doing the office stuff well is as important, if not more so, than building a nice bike.

I've heard some builders say they have trouble managing product flow as they can't rely on their suppliers getting stuff to them on time and that that gets in the way. I can see that and I used to have the same issue. Then I changed the way I order stuff so that it is very, very, rare I get caught out. I struck up agreements with all my main suppliers that when I place an order I get it in X period of time. It may not be fast but it's something I can count on and it works. So I keep close track of how many doodads I've got and how long it will take to get more doodads and place orders with that in mind. Sometimes poop still happens but it's been very rare for me since I set up the system.

One thing that really helps is paying your bills long before they are due - I get the invoice and I cut a check and pay the bill the next day at the latest. Most of the places I deal with are small just like me and getting paid quickly means a lot. So when I call and say I need something - I usually get it fast. One hand washes the other so to speak. That and I do not buy anything at all on credit - ever. I pay as I go and when a supplier sees this I get put to the front of the line. Never fails.

So while there are things that get in the way most of them can be minimized so that they aren't road blocks but mere bumps in the road.

------------------------------------------------

So overall I'd say that this business is like most any other and relies on being good at many things and treating your customers well and fair. If the f-builder does this then the road blocks are rare and easy to get around. And........you will have fun and enjoy the process and the fact that you can make enough money to get it rolling.

Thanks for asking.

Dave
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  #65  
Old 09-19-2012, 06:48 PM
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David Kirk David Kirk is offline
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Originally Posted by jr59 View Post
Hey Dave,

I got a question;

What would you be doing if you weren't a frame god....I mean builder?

Note; Race car driver is not an option!

Also glad to hear about the 10th anv bike. Please keep us informed.


Good question.

I'm a huge fan of the late Spaulding Gray and will quote him here. He stood up in front of an audience once and had nothing planned out to say and offered to take questions. He said "I don't promise answers, but I do promise responses". Smart man he was.

I would be a crappy race car driver. It pains me to say I'm not a natural and I work way too hard for the meager low key autocross success I have. You can get far as a driver with hard work but only the gifted make it in the long term. I'm a very hard worker but not gifted. I have so much fun it matters little though. Holy crap it's fun. I could be a car designer at the drop of a hat. I'm a better at setting up a car than I am driving it.

If I were younger and had more money in my pocket I might want to study industrial design. I have a HS regents diploma and that is it. When it was college time I had the choice of making a few dollars racing my bike or going to school and being inside all day. So - I've got a HS diploma. But I like designing things and feel I could be good at it.

I can also picture being a technical writer. I enjoy taking the technical and explaining it in a way that is easy to understand. This was one of the things I loved about being the head of a snowboard school. Taking gifted riders out and making them better with my eyes and words was fun. I like to do that kind of stuff while writing.

I could also do what I did at Serotta for some period of time - be a problem solver and help manage production flow. Doing that well is really fun and rewarding.

Hey - maybe I did give more than a response above! Go figure.

Dave
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  #66  
Old 09-20-2012, 02:04 PM
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Mr. Squirrel Mr. Squirrel is offline
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Originally Posted by David Kirk View Post
Hello my furry friend,

I think what you call 'slip' I might call 'tinning'. Tinning is the act of brazing the two tubes together by flowing a small amount of brazing material between the two tubes but not putting extra on the outside to create the fillet. The tinning is very important in that it really is what holds to tubes together and the fillet just reinforces the tinning. Proper tinning flows a small amount of filler between the tubes and forms a small fillet inside of the joint. This is where the majority of the strength comes from.

When the tubes are all set into the jig and fluxed up I tin each joint completely. I work my way around the frame and tin small sections of each joint until all the joints are completely tinned.

Once all the tinning is done and the frame is cool it comes out of the jig and gets put into a work stand for the laying of the fillets. I put a fresh layer of flux on each joint and then lay the fillets on each joint in 4 sections. i work two of the sections in the clockwise direction and the other two in the counter-clockwise direction and this keeps the joint from creeping and twisting as the brass cools and contracts. It's a sequence that I've worked on over the years that results in a frame that needs no cold setting to get it to be straight once cool.

Your uncle Cletus is a smart rodent.............I too like the #2 Victor torch tip best and I use it for 99.8% of my brazing. Listen to Cletus - he's the man.

I do like nuts but my favorite nuts are peanuts and I suppose those are actually legumes and not really nuts...........so I don't know. Hmmmmm? Points to ponder.

Dave
dear mr. dave, uncle cletus would approve! he always said slip, but tinning is the same.
peanuts are tasty. did you know that it was the indigenous peoples of peru (not the incas nor even the moche) who started cultivating the early ancestor of the modern peanut? it is a hybrid of a couple of herbaceous wild beans. so, do you have an attic (nuk nuk nuk)?

mr. squirrel
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  #67  
Old 09-20-2012, 07:26 PM
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David Kirk David Kirk is offline
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Originally Posted by Mr. Squirrel View Post
dear mr. dave, uncle cletus would approve! he always said slip, but tinning is the same.
peanuts are tasty. did you know that it was the indigenous peoples of peru (not the incas nor even the moche) who started cultivating the early ancestor of the modern peanut? it is a hybrid of a couple of herbaceous wild beans. so, do you have an attic (nuk nuk nuk)?

mr. squirrel
I do have an attic - I also have a few aggressive cats! Be careful!

dave
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  #68  
Old 09-23-2012, 03:35 PM
weaponsgrade weaponsgrade is offline
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1. Do you still mountain bike and if so, what kind of mountain bike do you ride?

2. Do you ever think about producing your own set of lugs? If so, what would be some of the features or highlights?

3. Apart from aesthetics, what in your opinion makes a good lug?

4. How many miles will you ride this year? Is there a cycling club or group that you ride with out there?

5. What are some of the different parts of the country you've ridden in? Any favorites that you'd like to go back to or new places that you'd like to visit?
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  #69  
Old 09-24-2012, 10:28 AM
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William William is offline
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I just wanted to take a moment and thank Dave for taking the time to share his knowledge and answer questions for us.

Thanks Dave!






William
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  #70  
Old 09-24-2012, 11:51 AM
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David Kirk David Kirk is offline
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Originally Posted by weaponsgrade View Post
1. Do you still mountain bike and if so, what kind of mountain bike do you ride?

2. Do you ever think about producing your own set of lugs? If so, what would be some of the features or highlights?

3. Apart from aesthetics, what in your opinion makes a good lug?

4. How many miles will you ride this year? Is there a cycling club or group that you ride with out there?

5. What are some of the different parts of the country you've ridden in? Any favorites that you'd like to go back to or new places that you'd like to visit?


Thanks for the questions - Here are some responses -

1) yes and yes. I tend to ride my MTB in the fall when it's cool and you don't cook on the mega long climbs here. The bike is old - very old. It was built as an after-school project while working at Serotta. It's had countless shocks and fork over the past 15 years but the damn thing won't die. It tried one and I got a small crack in the seat tube but being unpainted Ti it was so easy to fix that I couldn't recycle it based on that. I keep wanting to build myself a new hard tail fillet bike - sort of a hybrid between a MTB and an old school 26" BMX cruiser. I should make time for that.






2) yes and no. There are very good lugs out there (Llewellyn being my favorite) so there is hardly a need to. That said I'd like something of my own but it's very hard to justify the cost of the tooling for the number of bikes I produce and I have no urge to be in the parts business. All that said I have some sketches and with any luck some day I'll have parts in hand. In the mean time I'm concentrating on designing parts that I feel are different than what is otherwise offered and better IMO............dropouts, adjusters, tubes......etc.


3) Options. I think a good lug should be able to be used right out of the box and at the same time offer real customizing potential so that the builder can give them their own look. This combo is harder to come by than it might seem. The other thing is a purely pragmatic thing - fit to the tubes. A builder can spend/waste a lot of time getting the lugs to fit the tubes well and that can be very frustrating. A tight lugs is no fun.


4) I have no idea how many miles I ride. One of the best things I've ever done for my cycling was to toss my computer and not track anything. It was very freeing. When I used a computer and tracked stuff I wouldn't bother riding if I only had 45 minutes - but now I put on the costume and go out even if that's all the time I have. I ride a good 5 days a week with longer rides on the weekend. I mix cross, road, dirt road and MTB all in there. There is a very active local community and I ride more cross with them than anything else. My schedule is odd and it's hard to make it all work with a group but I do my best.


5) I grew up in Central New York state and I still contend that there is some of the best riding in the country there. I've toyed with getting a camp together to meet and ride there. The hills can be super steep (over 20% grade) and the roads are narrow and tree lined. I've never ridden in Belgium but the photos remind me of riding near Rome New York where I grew up.

The riding just a few hours east of Rome in Saratoga Springs NY near Serotta is also world class. Challenging and fun with very little traffic. You can even find long climbs in this area where in the Rome area the climbs tend to be shorter.

I rode a good bit during my Florida years - I lived and rode in the panhandle near Pensacola and it was pretty darn good there. You could find surprisingly good climbs there with lots of rolling power terrain. I rode the road bike then as training for BMX and the rolling terrain was perfect interval training for BMX.

The riding here in Bozeman can be very good but you need to search it out. NOTHING is flat here - 3% is the new flat. So you can ride for miles at a time up a 2-3% grade and it never changes and it makes you feel weak...........until you head back down and then you are Hinault. The 'real' climbs here are many miles long. It's easy to find 10+ mile climbs that top out at 7500 feet or more.

If I could be anywhere today, right now, and ride it would be just north of Rome NY and back in my old area. I would do one of two rides - the ride of Six Climbs goes up and back down the Tug Hill Plateau and each climb gets more brutal. Podunk hill, Sly Hill, Stokes hill, Quaker hill (my favorite), Gifford hill and finally Damn hill. When you finish this ride you know you've done some work. Or I'd do what the locals call "the hell of the north". No it's not cobbles but it's in the north and it hurts like hell. The first climb is Gifford hill and it goes up 650 feet in less than 3/4 mile topping out at 22%. This is the easiest climb of the three - first Gifford then Steuben and then finally Potato hill. Potato has a too-long section over 22% and all these dogs that like the easy chase - adds to the motivation. It's is very, very hard. But once you get the 3 climbs out of the way you get a very long descent of the Pixie Falls Gorge with it's twists and changes in pitch. Man that is a fun ride.

That and I'd like to ride in Belgium!

Thanks again.

Dave
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  #71  
Old 09-24-2012, 02:43 PM
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David Kirk David Kirk is offline
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Originally Posted by William View Post
I just wanted to take a moment and thank Dave for taking the time to share his knowledge and answer questions for us.

Thanks Dave!






William
Thank you sir..........it's been fun and I look forward to more questions.

dave
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  #72  
Old 09-25-2012, 03:17 PM
lucieli lucieli is offline
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Builder Spotlight: Kirk Frameworks

Beautiful work! Inspirational...
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  #73  
Old 09-25-2012, 06:21 PM
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David Kirk David Kirk is offline
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Beautiful work! Inspirational...
thanks - you made my day.

dave
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  #74  
Old 09-25-2012, 07:53 PM
weaponsgrade weaponsgrade is offline
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Are those maguras on your mtn bike? That brings back memories. I like reading about these one-off projects. Thanks for the pics and stories!
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  #75  
Old 09-26-2012, 10:12 AM
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David Kirk David Kirk is offline
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Are those maguras on your mtn bike? That brings back memories. I like reading about these one-off projects. Thanks for the pics and stories!
Yep - Magura hydraulic rim brakes. They work so damn well it's silly. If they only came in a bright color so they'd get noticed...........


dave
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