About twelve years ago, as I visited Brent Steelman in his small Redwood City shop, I asked him about the TDF race that I was so enamored with at the time. “Hey Brent, are you watching the tour?” I asked. “Why would I want to watch a bunch of dopers?” He replied. “You mean all of them?” I probed. “All the winners and contenders,” he confirmed.
I was a bit floored by his bluntness and self-assuredness. But as the years rolled by, I realized Brent was right. He is often right about a lot of things. And boy, does he make beautiful and functional bikes.
So I took my twelve year old son out there in Feb, 2013 and we talked about a variety of subjects. I wanted my son to learn about a man who builds and thinks and builds some more. I asked him why he doesn’t attend NAHBs, the US handmade bike show. He said it mostly showcases new builders, hobbyists who are trying to make a go at frame building part-time. He said there was quite a bit of turn over every year and a lot of builders were giving away the farm, charging less than $2000 for a custom frame. “It just doesn’t add up if you add up all the hours, expenses and want to make a living. I just want to make as much as my car mechanic,” he explains. Brent’s frames range from $4300 for a tig-welded frame and $5100 for a lugged one.