Big Wheel

CHESTER—Success is instinctive when you work in a town where acceptance doesn’t count on price, says Richard Sachs.

“I knew all my life that I would make bikes like I am now,” Sachs said Thursday.

Through the course of his 25-year career, Sachs has built top quality racing bicycles for men and women on the U.S. and Canadian National Teams, Ironman triathletes, and state and local amateurs. Sachs has built for everyone from top-level competitors to those who may never race.

Sachs builds a bicycle that is as close as possible to perfection—a term that for him takes on a metaphysical meaning. His attitude comes from years of painstaking work, producing only one or two frames per week out of his basement shop at One Main Street.

“People know that I have a maniacal approach to construction and design,” Sachs said. “I also race and gain a certain amount of respect for that.”

Sachs not only races, but is now the corporate sponsor of the Connecticut Yankee Bicycle Club team.

Imagine yourself on a racing bike, balancing yourself as you move uphill changing gears. If your bicycle doesn’t shift perfectly or if the weight is not just right, it costs time in competition. Sachs knows all about that from his own racing experience.

“He strikes a balance between rigidity, balance, and comfort,” said Madison resident John Sakalowsky, who rode with the Connecticut Yankee Bicycle Club for five years and now is ranked among the top 20 amateurs in the country.

Sachs uses classic European bicycle-frame design, said Wethersfield resident Jim Rocheleau, who owns three of his bikes.

“It’s a tried Çand-true design that worked 20 years ago and today,” Rocheleau said.

There’s also something that can’t be put into words, Rocheleau said, that Sachs makes all of his bicycles completely by hand.

“He’s the only one that touches the frames from the time he puts tubes together to the time he ships them to the painter,” Sakalowsky said.

“I do all the work and it’s intuitive,” Sachs said. “I think the fact that I’ve stayed true to my original intention, people glean that from my business.”

Still, he insists that the most important thing about the bicycle isn’t the bike, but the rider.

“I make bikes in such a way that they’ll fit like a glove,” he said. “They’ll be confidence-inspiring. So when you ride you don’t have to think about the bike.”

“If you ride a 150-mile race on one, you won’t be beat-up at the end,” Sakalowsky said. “His bikes are known for being extremely stable in descent.”

Sachs opened his shop in Chester in 1974.

“Chester’s a good place to be in this kind of business because it’s quiet,” he said. “You can on with your work.”

You might bump into him at lunch in town, but like many other talented people in Chester, you probably wouldn’t recognize him.

“A lot of people in town do unconventional things,” said Sachs, 42.

For him, the unconventional route started when he graduated from a New Jersey prep school, and instead of going to college, traveled to Great Britain, where he learned his trade at Witcomb Lightweight Cycles outside London.

“I really wanted to make my own bikes with my own name on them,” he said. “Chester was a good place to start.”

Sachs’ 16-gear racing bicycles list for an average of $3700. All bicycles are made to order, every choice reflected to the millimeter, and are available with top-quality Campagnolo hardware.

The preceding article was originally written for the Hartford Courant by Mark Guthrie, and appeared on September 22, 1995, with the headline “In the world of high performance bikes, Chester craftsman’s a big wheel.”