08/20/2019 note: The following tongue-in-cheek narrative is relevant and not untrue, but you’ll find an abridged history chronicled here.
Originally only an idea for a line of classic hand-made wheels, artispin became a technically oriented blog for HubBub Custom Bicycles instead – supposedly covering cycling related topics. Now representing a small workshop for fitting, designing, building, and servicing fine bicycles, I hope these pages serve to connect fellow cycling enthusiasts with my little world of human-powered transit.
We custom bicycle folks seem to fancy the need to differentiate ourselves by describing our business models with words like boutique, studio, bespoke, constructeur, smith, wright, and other quaint names. To that end I wish to claim the word atelier all for myself before anyone outside of France catches on.
Now, since this is supposed to be an About Page, I’m afraid I must bore you with the obligatory credentials, my history of riding and working on bicycles:
It was a bright and sunny, calm day when I learned to ride young. Sure enough, I liked it. My dad used to tune my bikes when I was little and couldn’t do it myself. We did this together on Saturday evenings, and listened to “golden oldies” on AM radio. I liked that too, but hearing one too many of Jimmy Dean’s “Big Bad John” inspired me to take my tool kit out to the driveway where I practiced on friends’ and school teachers’ old steel. After learning to patch flat tires I took a job as service manager in a bike shop where my primary duties included scraping fermented grass out of a lawnmower, and babysitting parents while their kids perused our sticker selection. Occasionally I went for a bike ride too. This went on for five years, including the four I spent in college only to conclude that bicycles are still sexier than bridges and water towers. Eventually I managed to escape those dirty mountains and find my way to the sparkling city, where Diane and I tried to convince the world how wonderful made-to-order bicycles and gourmet coffee can be. After fifteen more years that idea ran its course and now I’m doing something completely new and improved. Okay, maybe not completely new… but hopefully an improvement.
Enough about that, for the moment (more below). Folks seem to want a philosophy so here’s a snapshot of a few themes for which I have become known with some disciples:
- Rollers and indoor trainers can be valuable training tools, but “roller miles” are not miles.
- For most of us mortals, It might be wise to consider the parts a race mechanic uses in his family’s minivan over what a sponsor puts in the race car.
- Everyone’s cycling enjoyment can be enhanced with a custom tailored bicycle. Some more than others… but pretty much everyone’s.
- No, not everyone needs custom geometry. Yes, most people benefit (some a great deal) from a fitting, even if riding a stock bicycle.
- There is far more to a custom bicycle than geometry and paint styling, so saying, “I don’t need custom geometry,” is only an excuse for not considering all the possibilities available.
- Each material choice has its benefits and considerations, but who designs and builds the bike, and how well he or she understands the materials and how to apply and work them to serve your wants and needs, can matter more than what the materials actually are.
- Cleanliness is just as important as lubrication.
- Your optimal tire pressure could be the maximum listed on the tires’ sidewalls, but probably is not.
- Light-weight is fun. Performance, handling, utility, ride quality, and reliability are of real importance. (not to mention appearance!)
- The skinniest tires are rarely the fastest.
- Disc brakes are great sometimes, for certain applications (mountain biking and wet-weather commuting) or under specific design constraints (small touring bike with wide tires and stays too short for cantis). Disc brakes on a “road” racing bike make it a non-optimal racing bike. Even if technology could “fix” this, that would imply it needs fixing.
- Carbon fibre is a material, a noun, not an adjective. (I’m stealing that one from Mike Jacoubowsky. He’s right on-target.)
Oh yes, my name… it’s Brian. That might come in handy if you’re trying to contact me. In early winter of 2013 Diane and I effectively closed HubBub Custom Bicycles as a full-service physical store-front retail operation with 6+day per week posted official business hours.
Diane more-or-less retired, although she remains incredibly busy teaching in her new Daily Yoga Studio, working nearly full-time producing her weekly Outspoken Cyclist radio show, blogging, managing our popular helmet mirror project, and serving as my stay-at-home house maid. I’ve not yet convinced her to wear the little Swiss-girl dress when she brings me a frothy beer.
I moved our collection of tools, repair parts, and custom fitting equipment to a fresh industrial location, starting a new business called Artispin Design, where I continue to do most of the same things, but on a more personal, one-on-one basis. I still build fine bicycles, and of course provide all levels of service for most past clients. Although I gladly accept new customers, I must find a way to do so without compromising the level of service I’ve promised to those who already come to me. If you found me, that’s wonderful. I do still accept use of the name Hubbub Bicycles, since after 16 years building the brand in northeast Ohio, many folks will think of me that way. I also continue to provide the service of procuring many appropriate retail goods and solutions, but most things outside of repair parts must be special-ordered.
I’m not hiding, but my clients don’t choose me because I’m plastered all over the interwebs. I can only get the work done, and do it well, when I’m not schmoozing, yet the work only flows in and out during customer interaction, so a balance must be kept. Clients don’t come to me because of what they read in magazines, or because I make grand claims about my integrity. Most new folks come to me by referral, because they know someone who allowed me the privilege of helping with their cycling needs.
Tell me your needs, and desires for cycling, and then we can discuss how I may help you get there, whether we’re a good fit or I need to direct you elsewhere. The longer I do this, the more I understand how little I know. I work pretty hard to improve on what I do offer, and how well I do what I do. Not everyone understands or needs what I offer and what I do. That’s okay… unless I happen to serve your needs; then I hope you’ll give me a shot. If not, together we’ll try to figure that out beforehand.
As for Hubbub’s history, and the reasons for the big changes… that’s a long story. A significant portion of that story, at least a collection of causes and effects, including an enormous segment of the timeline, is very personal and mostly unknown. It may eventually be relayed in a controlled way and for specific reasons. From the business perspective however, 2012 was the second most successful year Hubbub ever had, so it wasn’t about business failure, at least not this time. Our early struggles upon our 2004 move to Chesterland, and opening High Peaks Coffee, were no secret. After 9.5 years of recovering, eventually satisfying obligations to both vendors and customers, we felt free to escape the chains of an old retail model. Indeed it was our eventual success that permitted us the freedom to move on.