Friday, September 12, 2008

NJ: A Visit with Jamie Swan, Part I

September 11th: This story begins at the end of May, 2008, on the last day the movers were packing our furnishings and loading the container in Verona, Italy. Checking my email for the last time in Italy there was an email from framebuilder Jamie Swan that had been sent to a large group, "I've got an unpainted frame set here.....I didn't have a particular customer in mind when I built it last Fall. I just wanted to road test the new jig and tube mitering fixtures that I spent the previous Winter building. The tooling worked out great... The level of workmanship on this frame kit is the same as my custom bikes but the lugs are Newvex instead of hand cut." The note went on to detail the specs of the bike.

As the movers were going to pack the PC in a few minutes I didn't have the luxury of time to ask any questions or to really think about it a lot. I had seen photographs of one of his builds, and I knew that he builds less than one frame per year on average. I had to decide quickly. The bike was the right size. It was built to accommodate larger tires and fenders so it was different than anything else I had. I went for it.

Today, after settling in in New Jersey, I finally made the trip to visit Jamie in Centerport, NY, and to pick up the frame. Jamie was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to talk about aspects of framebuilding, his shop, the retail store he owned in the past, bike racing, and more. A real cycling guy; I could have easily spent a few more hours there.

For as much as Jamie loves framebuilding he has other work and activities that leave him little time for it. My frame is only the 11th he has built. For those that love the attention to detail that Jamie works to it's our loss that he doesn't build more.

Jamie Swan's website is: and contact information is contained therein.

Next, I'm going to try to convince him to build a stem for me. Details of his work are next in Part II.

Photos: Jamie Swan; 3 photos of his machines and tools (and I didn't photograph all of them); drafting table with a completed bike; Jamie with the naked frame/fork I came to pickup; crossing the George Washington Bridge from New York City into New Jersey on the 7th anniversary of 9/11.

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