by Matt Klucha
An engineering degree is only part of my equation - experience
counts. My technical experience and formal training in engineering, plus my
experience in building frames allows me to build better frames than with
framebuilding experience alone.
The engineering curriculum is one of the toughest programs of study. My studies have enabled me to analyze and evaluate mechanical systems from a theoretical standpoint. My experience with real-life testing allows me to validate this theoretical analysis through testing. Formal education, training, engineering industry experience, practical hands-on experience, framebuilding experience, and experience in the bicycle industry as a bike shop mechanic and owner has created an environment of high standards and discipline. I love dealing with people, but I prefer to work alone. I am the guy. One person from start to finish – no gaps in communication, no “throwing it over the wall”, nothing lost in translation. It all happens within one brain, one unified set of neurons – commanding a skilled set of hands, a keen set of eyes, an attentive set of ears, a meticulous spirit, and steadfast work ethic – plus a seasoned measure of experience and travelled quads. Not to forget the engineer, philosopher, bike racer, poet, artist and husband that bind it all together.
I have refined and documented my build process over time,
combining my experience (in cycling, engineering, the aerospace and bicycle
industries), with formal engineering study.
Paired with a true craftsman approach, I have developed a predictable,
repeatable fabrication process, resulting in well-made, perfectly aligned,
well-balanced, world class handcrafted frames.
Matt Klucha of MSH1 Bicycle Works with his 'C-Sport' city sports tourer
Photo taken at the European Handmade Bicycle Exhibition
MSH1 Bicycle Works
Traditional Road, Racing, Track, Fixie/Singlespeed
Contemporary Vintage, Classic Vintage, Sportif
To build World Class Bicycle Frames using
traditional bicycle frame building
techniques, handcrafted and completely fabricated by my hands.
· Craft Artisan Approach
To maintain ' fundamentals based ' methods which
are true to the craft of traditional
· To build each frame one at a time to order, utilizing my " Fingerprint Fit " process to design the frame uniquely for each client.
· To make frames which are truly handmade, via a fabrication process refined to have an extremely small carbon footprint, using no machinery.
My frames are made from select True Temper or Columbus
Steel tubing, Investment Cast Lugs, and silver brazing.
My clients understand what a truly handbuilt/handcrafted frameset is all about. My frames are made with my hands - no machinery, only hand tools, and small hand power tools. My frames are “… true to the craft …” of handmade framebuilding.
In contrast to many alleged “handmade” frames these days,
many of which are not really handmade – those which are built utilizing
substantial machinery (mills, lathes, CNC, etc) – the big heavy stuff that uses
lots of energy and chemicals - a build process that has a substantial carbon
footprint. I don’t consider frames made
in this manner to be truly made by hand.
I match the actual performance of my frames to the client’s expectations through custom design utilizing my “Fingerprint Fit Process” Proper fit and rider position is one of the most critical factors affecting performance.
Customer empathy, listening, sensing, intuition, and being in touch with what is not said by a client can be extremely important.
Often what a person feels, or intuitively senses is difficult to verbalize by them. Accurately translating one’s feelings into words can sometimes be a challenge. Therefore, a good builder must have the ability to digest what a client says, as well as read what a client does not say, in order to be truly effective in evaluating the client’s true wants and needs. Decipher the hieroglyphics, so to speak…
Many clients know precisely what they want in a bike frameset, and can accurately verbalize it, while others may naturally tend toward intuitively knowing what they want. The skill of a builder goes far beyond the fabrication process – a great builder understands people, understand what motivates people, and is able to read between the lines. In doing so, the essence of the client themselves can be integrated into the frame to achieve the optimum fit and performance.
I use only Stainless Steel S&S couplers which are corrosion resistant and durable.
· S&S Coupler retrofit to existing frames
· General Frame repair
· Single Speed conversion
S&S Couplers - Framebuilder Testimonial
by Matt Klucha
In general, the best systems available are those that
provide key functionality, yet often go unnoticed by the user as a result of the
fluid nature in which the system functions. The
S&S Coupler system is just this type of system – user friendly when you need it,
and goes unnoticed otherwise. The
key functionality that the S&S system provides is take-apart capability.
When the frame is assembled, the S&S system is benign. The performance of
a frame with S&S couplers installed is indistinguishable from the same frame
without the couplers installed. The
mechanical integrity of the S&S couplers meets or exceeds the material it
This phenomenon is similar to what one experiences with a great frameset – the “feel” of a great riding bike - seamless integration of bicycle frame and rider, such that the bike seems to disappear as a separate entity – as a leaf is part of the tree, and the tree is part of the forest.
Retrofitting an existing bike
Retrofit your old bike, and give it a 2nd life as a travel bike
Retrofit an old vintage bike from the 60’s or 70’s, and convert it into a modern travel bike while maintaining its vintage heritage
These days, major manufacturers are driven by a number of
market forces. Overseas production,
extreme cost cutting measures, and drive to sell consumers the latest and
lightest by making people think what they have is obsolete, or deemed as old
technology. The reality is that
major manufacturers need to you to buy a new bike because what they sell are
“disposable frames” that may not be mechanically sound after only a couple of
seasons. Frames made out of
materials with finite fatigue lives by definition are disposable.
Steel has infinite fatigue life.
Aluminum and carbon have a finite fatigue life and will ultimately fail
(often catastrophically) even if the material is not stressed beyond its elastic
Additionally, major manufacturers build their standard bikes for a “median” or average rider for a given frame size with an average factor of safety. What is the result? Simply put, there significant likelihood that a heavier than average rider will be riding a bike designed for the “average” rider, potentially overstressing the frame, resulting in shorter frame life due to little to no factor of safety for that particular rider/frame combination. How much shorter life? Good question.
In the case of a lighter than average rider on a bike built for the average rider – not necessarily a safety issue, but this fellow is riding an overbuilt frame for what he actually needs.
So, when a manufacturer says: “We custom wrap the carbon
layup to achieve the optimum frame stiffness”.
What they don’t mention that that custom carbon wrap is for the “average”
person. So how much an individual differs from the “average” in weight, power,
riding style, etc, is proportional to how much a stock bike is inadequate for
A custom handbuilt frame can surpass a stock frame in terms of performance and price.
Frame Technical Attributes
Tubing selection, material selection, and proper integration assures high performance.
In custom selection of steel tubing strengths, diameters, and wall thicknesses the frame can be tuned specifically to the riders body geometry, weight, power output, riding style, performance requirements, and purpose. Thereby providing a steel frame that will last a lifetime regardless of how many fatigue cycles it experiences (i.e. how many surface irregularities you ride over).
Heat effects of Silver Brazing vs. TIG
Silver Brazing typically reduces tube strength by less than 10%. I fabricate my frames using low temperature Silver Brazing process.
TIG welding reduces tube strength by 30-50% due to the very high temperatures utilized to join the material. Therefore, TIG brazing a frame may require a heavier gauge of tubing than would be required with silver brazing. I do not use TIG welding for this reason primarily. I also find the aesthetics of TIG welding on a handcrafted frameset to be unacceptable.
Regular Diameter Tubing and Oversize
I built with either regular diameter steel tubing (1” Toptube, 1-1/8” Downtube) or oversize steel tubing (1-1/8” Toptube, 1-1/4” Downtube).
Some riders do not need or want oversize tubing.
Note on regular
Oversize tubing is an excellent choice to build a frame if the rider actually needs or wants the characteristics associated with OS tubing (e.g. stiffness). However, not all riders want or need the ride qualities resulting from using oversize tubing. I personally prefer regular diameter tubing (1” Toptube, and a 1-1/8” Downtube) which provides a lovely ride, given my body mass, body geometry, performance preferences, riding style, and riding topology preferences. However, I also ride my oversize tubing frames when I want or need a frame providing certain performance qualities.
Note on oversize
Due to market(ing) forces, many tubing manufacturers no longer offer 1” diameter tubing. Oversize does not necessarily mean better, or lighter – it depends on the environment in which the tubing is intended to be used.
By the way, don’t get me started on “integrated headsets”. Chris King has done a great job providing background on the evolution of these highly marketed headsets.
Paint or Powdercoat
I utilize liquid paint to achieve a spectacular finish that will be durable and beautiful. Includes
hand-etching, primer, sanding, paint, clear, more sanding, and more clear.
I take great care
in preparing the frame & lugs prior to painting. I strongly believe that paint
should not be utilized to hide, mask or cover-up. My frames look incredible before any paint is
applied. I use paint as a means to protect, personalize and hold the decals. Nevertheless,
what you get is a spectacular paint job that is among the finest in the world. Just don't forget the
marvelous creation underneath the paint...
Optional Powdercoat base, with clear liquid topcoat is available
There are unlimited color options, color combinations and
styles. I work with the client in
laying out a paint scheme that will effectively personalize your frameset.
Alternatively, select with one of my several “Signature Paint Series” paint schemes.
I walk the client through the disassembly-packing and unpacking of S&S equipped frames – assembly process
Investment that will last a lifetime
Take apart flexibility.
M.P. Klucha and MSH1 Bicycle Works products are offered worldwide.
Products and services available utilizing BTCs.We sell frames and complete bicycles.
MSH1 Bicycle Works Home Page