Happy Halloween”

Happy Halloween 🙂

Snow on the ground for Halloween! This Saturday night we had a Nor’easter with very heavy snow, that felled trees all over and took out power for 3million people [today down to 340,000 for MA]. We lost power at our house Saturday night and are scheduled to have back at 11pm tonight. At home we have a wood burning stove and our cook stove runs on propane, so not as much of an emergency as for many others. Sunday Betsy and I spent a lot of the morning clearing snow off our poor bushes, cutting broken limbs and clearing out downed tree branches from the yard…not to mention shoveling 😉

I came to the shop yesterday to happily discover that I had power here. My business is very dependent on electricity and is a big reminder how fragile my lifestyle is. Makes me think that I could going about my business differently. You might think how could I do it?

  • Switch to fillet brazing.
  • Do less finish work.
  • Make pedal powered machinery.
  • Switch to brush painting the frames.
  • No sandblasting for paint prep [takes a lot of energy]
  • Put a wood stove and skylights in my shop [landlord won’t let me, but nice to think about for a future space]

I have thought about this possibility for sometime, even to the point of designing my pedal powered equipment and bought some of the things needed. However this was years ago and ended up selling some of the equipment I bought [hand powered drill press]. I thought of all the effort it would take to make these things [with my electric powered milling machine and lathe] and gave up to get back at the task at hand…making the bikes I have on order, with the equipment that I have invested heavily into already.

Another issue with this other scenario is that I am an expert TIG welder. I know how to fillet braze, but I would need to get very good at it quick to be able to sell my work. TIG welding is also very efficient, clean and takes no clean up. Brazing on the other hand requires hot water or a bath and much clean up [with flux and filing]. And the big question is paint. Would anyone buy a brush painted bike? I bought some water based metal paint and primer to experiment with, but have not had time to work with it yet. Painting and powder coating take a lot of energy for the compressed air for blasting and spraying as well as for your oven to cure the paint or powder. Just reminding myself about the paint I bought is exciting and I will do some experimenting with it over the next month.

This power outage and last weeks class with Jimmy [building a Bakfiest/Box bike] has really got me thinking about my roots with starting ANT….building bicycles for transportation and at a lower cost. However for me to make a living at this I have two options. My current status is making a few custom bikes at high quality and higher pricing or I can switch to making lower cost bikes at lower quality and higher volume. I would love to do both someday 🙂

Jimmy’s cargo bike class was a lot of fun and he was great to work with. I forgot to get  a picture of his  assembled frame before we ran off to the airport [he got out just as the storm was starting]. We made the frame bi-partable, so he could fit it all into a bike box.

Jimmy just had the TED talk he gave uploaded to the TED website. Jimmy said he wants to do better, but I think he gave a good talk and I look forward to seeing more of Jimmy’s talks.


About antbikemike

Bicycle frame builder
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One Response to Happy Halloween”

  1. Pete says:

    I enjoyed Jimmy’s enthusiasm. My imagination takes me one of two places (in the future) — the city with a good biking infrastructure (bike lanes) or the country with less cars. Currently I’m stuck using my imagination in Philly suburbia to design longer routes through subdivisions to avoid as many distracted, angry drivers as possible. It’s sort of depressing that I practically never pass or encounter other bike commuters in my current habitat — only the experienced and brave commute the suburbs — no shoulders and no bike paths. On the other hand, the parks are bubbling with riders getting exercise (not commuting). The most laughable thing is people will drive 20 minutes to the gym and back instead of commuting on bike more often and spending less time in a gym — I prefer the outdoors. Nonetheless, I keep riding with the goal of eventually selling my car — something I’ve had the inkling to do since I was 20 (currently closer to 40). When I ride I hope it dawns on people to ride more.

    “My current status is making a few custom bikes at high quality and higher pricing or I can switch to making lower cost bikes at lower quality and higher volume. I would love to do both someday”

    Quality and price is certainly an issue with discerning consumers like myself. A good correctly designed product improves the cycling experience but isn’t readily available in our impulsive culture which lead to many people selecting the wrong (cheap, difficult and uncomfortable) bike for the commute. It’s almost as if the bicycle industry has only one chance to grab the attention of somebody who isn’t inclined to bike commute — once that chance is gone the industry can lose a consumer forever. Of course those who ride realize the math (and well being) favors the bike. I’d certainly would be willing to invest more money in bicycles if I knew I didn’t need a car (and all it’s many expenses) — while for some of my neighbors (six cars, 2 personal water-crafts, motorcycles parked in front of a a 5 member family sized home) this would be like giving up an appendage!

    Currently, I live in the reality of too many cars and imagine a future with more bikes — it’s the best I can do –bikes are the answer to so many of our current lack of well being!

    Thank you for building awesome products and helping the world on bike at a time.

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