One of the more recent additions to the US frame building community is a Dan Shafer, a mechanical engineer from Buffalo, NY. In his youth when bike racing was a big part of Dan’s life, he trained under Ted Smith, who some will know as a US rider competing on the European Six Day circuit. Ted turned Dan toward Colnago, and a long-term love affair began.
By age 50, Dan had been 25 years a sculptor as a sideline to his mechanical engineering mainstay job. He decided it was time to broaden his scope, and drew on his experience with heat and metal to start making bicycles. Unsurprisingly, his design eye turned to steel lugged Italian frames from the 1980s era. He credits US builders, too, for influencing his work: Chris Bishop and Chapman Cycles in particular.
Dan is looking to continue using traditional frame building techniques, but in the near future, he can see incorporating space for the bigger tires needed for all-road cycling.
“I am trying to educate the public that an off-the-shelf bike is not needed. There is good lightweight steel that is completely customizable to a cyclist’s personal dimensions and geometry preferences,” he says. He points to the wide range in inseam and torso length ratios he has noticed. Cyclists outside population averages are being asked to compensate by pushing their seats or changing their bar/stem setup to a sub-optimal positions. The custom builder can minimize these adjustments, making a bike with ideal comfort and handling characteristics.
“We do fit and sizing, using traditional formulas, so we can cut the right tube size. We Incorporate personal details in the frame. Those are the things that make the emotional attachment, make bike ownership an emotional experience,” he tells us.