It’s interesting that the pace of progress often seems to rise and fall like the housing market, tech stocks, property values or whatever. It really doesn’t though. Development, innovation or whatever you want to call it, keeps right on going even when we aren’t paying attention.
I often think for a moment while watching an event, that a pinnacle has been reached or some type of unbeatable record has been set when in reality, someone has already set their sights on the next record and had begun to prepare quite unceremoniously and perhaps under the cover of darkness if they have real expectations.
It’s great to live in the moment armed with the knowledge that it’s a temporary condition. Nothing is the best for long.
I make things for a living and don’t think too much about taking something further than ever before. I spend most of my effort being as good as I was last time. Let me explain. I know at one time or another every movement of a certain process was done to perfection. I like to be able to do that again each time I try and it’s not that easy. It’s more of an endurance event than I expected but I have what it takes.
Each time I weld around a bottom bracket shell (and there have been thousands) I look forward to anticipating the most likely of the variables and like a performer spinning plates on a Saturday evening variety show, do my best for the brief period that it matters. Things are never exactly the same each time and being able to keep it going just a bit further or salvaging the effort after a slight error often defines the performance. Unless you know the routine, you can’t really define perfection, only perception. I never said I went easy on myself.
It’s only when you have mastered the basic routines that you find yourself in a position to reach for a new goal. The tallest wall should have the strongest foundation.
This is one of the reasons that I make bikes from metal. I am excited about the future of composite materials but I am also excited about the future of metals we currently use. Familiarity and market proliferation have produced amazing results and the commonly used metals (steel, aluminum and titanium) have evolved and progressed to offer a wide range of really good products and solutions. Much innovation has taken place but people really just got better doing what they were already doing. I love to embrace innovation but a year or two on is when it becomes a reality. Right now, the “industry” is still jamming BB30 (or a variant) into your lifestyle but it still sucks for you. I don’t care because I make many of the bikes I like.
Tomorrow when I reach for the light switch, ill hear/feel the same jolt of archaic Hi-leg three phase power that greets me every morning. I always do and follow the same routine when building a bike regardless of the material. Things like measuring each bottom bracket shell and tube transition matter on each bike because there are actually “manufacturing tolerances” or allowances for compromises that comes with every piece of material and some are really excessive. Manufacturers don’t notice but?.
Regardless of of the amount of experience I have (more that most) I find myself doing more of the work personally when everywhere we look we are asked to embrace an innovation that has no real benefit to the cyclist but only shorten the manufacturing time. I like to build bikes, why would I want it to take less time at my own expense? Weld in a crappy BB platform then spend more time fixing my own bike. LOL. 1/4 of my work week is time on the bike.
In my effort to be as good as I “once was” I find myself expecting a lot more from the materials I use. I “don’t assume shit” (thanks JP) and build each bike as though it was my first, keeping in mind that it may be your first.
I have been working on MAXIMUM EFFORT and another project we can’t talk about. These should wrap next week.
Have you seen these images?