The bike that love built

The step-through style bike I built for Liz is the first frame I made completely on my own.  I made lots of pieces of frames when I worked at Waterford Precision Cycles, but I never built a frame from start to finish.  Part of the reason was the factory build procedure they used back then, where one person would build chain stays, another tack frames, and another braze the mains and build the forks.  The other reason is I never made it to the “master framebuilder” class during the short time I was there.  I was pretty decent at everything I did, but I just did not put in the time to get that framebuilder title.  But I learned a lot while I was there and under the tutelage of some darn good builders.   

I built this bike with Tange Prestige tubing, hand carved Waterford lugs, Shimano SF drop outs and a Henry James fork crown. I really go for those old forks with all the rake at the bottom, so I made a custom maple block to rake the fork blades for this bike.

The key Diva lug is made from a regular lug that you cut up with a hack saw and files. I carved little hearts into all the lugs on Liz's bike.

Carving lugs begins by drawing the profile you want on the lug itself (I use a Sharpe) and then cutting away all the metal you don’t want.  I use hack saws, jewelers saws, small Nichols files, riffler files and sometimes a die grinder. At Waterford we also used Dynafiles.  I don’t have a decent compressor so it would be a waste to by a Dynafile.   They are spendy tools but worth every penny in my limited experience production building. My daughter was about 5 years old then and she helped me file the lugs. 

I like clean builds, and I feel this modified fast-back seat stay technique is elegant in its simplicity.

OK, sue me, but I am not a fan of “mixte” (pronounced MEExt, not Mix-tee) with that extra pair of stays.  I think they just look too busy.  As you all know, I do love step-through frames though.  Waterford builds a similar step-through called the “Godiva” or the “Diva” when I was working there, and of course this bike is influenced by all the geometries I saw and Divas I tacked up. 

This bike is built up with an eight-speed Shimano internal.  I put on rear rack mounts, but no fender eyelets.  I always intended this to be a Sunday go to meeting kind of bike, not a serious commuter. Despite that, it rides really solid and fast. Oma should never race this bike. 

I bumped dimples inside the rear chainstays for added wheel clearance, and the bike has room for fenders.  But it was never really meant to be ridden in the rain. 

I domed the chain stays and then cut this little pattern in them. I had to suck the molten metal back in the stays to keep the look I wanted.

The Shimano SF dropouts are the poor man’s Campy 1010As.  Not quite as long as the Campy, the SF still has plenty of room to slide the internal hub back to tension the chain. 

Little hearts adorn all the lugs on this bike.

Although I built it as a fancy bike, Liz does actually ride it to work fairly often. One of the keys to making this bike ride so well was the tall Nitto stem.  This bike is stiff, reasonably light and pretty fast for an upright bike.  It kind of hints that it is possible to build a light bike with spritely ride that has all the functionality of traditional heavy, slow Dutch-style commuter bikes like our Oma.

I may add a chainguard one of these days, but until then the basket completes the look and is more essential than accessory.


About daveschlabowske

Cyclechic advocate from Milwaukee
This entry was posted in Bicycles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The bike that love built

  1. Bonnie Meerschaert says:

    Wow, that is love! You made/created a really beautiful bike.

  2. Jason Sanchez says:

    Super cute, Dave.
    My favorite part is that the basket is wired on w/ 12 gauge electrical wire 🙂

  3. michael hopp says:

    dave was so proud of this bike when he finished it, that he dragged it up to MPLS to show it off. a true labor of love.

  4. margonaute says:

    Beautiful lugs!

    I think mix-tee is a totally valid and acceptable American/English pronunciation, just as we needn’t say “Par-ee” when naming the capital of France. Also, it is way more fun to say it that way!

  5. Terry says:


    I spotted this bike and your new Oma outside Juniper 61. They looked so beautiful chained up together that I had to stop to inspect them closer.

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