A 1991 detail shot by Michael Furman. For the RS 20th Anniversary Frame I brought back some materials long since mothballed as I transitioned over to the IC era in the early 1980s. The Nervex Ref 32 lugs. The playing card suit fork liners. These pantographed dropouts too. The reliefs show the pattern I milled into the raised area. But the rest was typical hand-work of the day. I kept using and filing forged dropouts until 2008 when I introduced my Piccolo Gioiello designs. I reckon I must have brazed and filed well over 25,000 dropouts until that fateful day that my work was cloned using the casting process.

Look at this photograph of a color transparency. No amount of staring will speak to the patience, skill, and vigilance it took to get every curve, edge, line, radius, point, and all other dimensions so perfect. It’s a balancing act of optimum fit, excellent brazing, and fastidious filing. By me. Through all the years and changes, I was always supremely confident and beyond proud that I could produce this level of work. By the time this picture was taken, my dropout confluences all looked this way regardless of frame model.

Had horizontal dropouts not been made completely redundant by Y2K I might have not pursued the vertical shapes I use now. But alas, the future happened and another piece of the puzzle became something I once did when I was younger, more interested, and the trade less watered down. One day in the not so distant future, all bicycles will come from just four sources. But until then, I’ll keep going to the bench each morning and find a way to bleed for my art.