Chris Bishop: A Must-Follow Builder in the Slim Lug Sect
Chris Bishop has established himself as a must-follow builder among the slim lug sect, winning numerous awards for his soldered steel creations at NAHBS. His unique style pushes the boundaries of traditional lugwork, filling in lug joints, sculpting high shorelines, and tapering down to the tube surface. Each Bishop frame has its own spirit, and it has been fascinating to watch his style evolve over the past decade.
Interview with Carl Schlemowitz
In this interview, Carl Schlemowitz, an experimental builder on the production level, questions Chris Bishop, an established banner holder for the new wave of single builder, one-off frame shops.
Carl: Photography Tips and Tricks
Carl: Your photos are incredible, both of the finished product and in process work. Do you take your own photos? If not, then who? Can you share any photography tips or tricks?
Chris: I take all of my process pics and have used several cameras, the best of which was a low-end Canon SLR. I always feel like a terrible photographer and rely completely on auto focus, so I don’t have much advice. For my complete bike builds, I use my friend Keith Trotta who does wedding photography, and I think he does a really good job.
Carl: The Joys and Torments of Frame Building
Carl: Your frames combine immaculate lug work, micro details, and custom fabricated elements. Which parts of the process do you enjoy or identify with most, the hand work, machine fabrication, or torch? Conversely, what torments you?
Chris: I enjoy all of these aspects of building bikes, but probably the lug work comes most naturally. Polishing stainless steel is the one thing I hate the most. It is never ending and dirty.
Carl: Opinions on Contemporary Industry Trends
Carl: Can you share your opinions on contemporary industry trends or innovations as they pertain to road bike frames? Tapered steer tubes? Thru-axles? Discs?
Chris: I am always cautious about jumping on new trends too soon. Many of these technologies have started to find a road bike standard, but I like to see how things shake out before fully embracing them. Disc brakes on road bikes have seen a lot of trials and tribulations over the years, and I will be trying a disc road bike in the coming year to provide real world feedback.
Carl: Bike Messenger Days
Carl: It’s no secret you used to be a bike messenger. Did the movie Quicksilver play any part in your decision to become a bicycle messenger? How many car windows have you broken, are you aware of what an automatic center punch can do, or is that more of a NYC messenger thing?
Chris: I actually had never seen Quicksilver until I was already a messenger. I started my messengering career on a GT RTS-2 full suspension mountain bike. I never broke any windows, just a side view mirror once. I never owned a center punch until I started building frames.
Carl: Future Offerings
Carl: Do you see yourself offering single speeds or mountain frames in the future? 29er? 27.5+?
Chris: I prefer road and gravel riding these days, so I don’t see myself offering single speeds or mountain frames. There are already many great builders of custom mountain bikes.
Carl: Random Questions
Carl: Baggies or lycra? Tubes or tubeless? Pizza?
Chris: For everyday riding, I wear shorts, pants, or jeans and a breathable top. For long road rides, I wear bibs and a jersey. Tubes. Who doesn’t like pizza? I am pretty traditional and like tomato sauce.
Carl: Frame Building Process
Carl: Do you use pins to secure your lugged joints as part of your frame building process?
Chris: I do not pin my lugs, but I do pin internal plug-style drop outs, fork crowns, and side tack seat stays. The pins serve different purposes in each case.
Carl: Ultimate Cycling Vacation
Carl: Where would you go for your ultimate cycling vacation?
Chris: I would like to go somewhere exotic where I could do both gravel/dirt road riding as well as nice smooth paved ascents and descents, with good food and people. Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand are on my list.
Carl: Music in the Shop
Carl: Do you listen to music while at work? If so, of what genre? Have you considered including a frames’ fabrication playlist with the delivery to your customer?
Chris: Music is a constant in the shop for me. I listen to a pretty wide range of music but prefer noisier underground stuff. I’m not sure how my customers would feel about the mix.
Carl: Final Thoughts
Carl: Now that you’ve been grilled, was there anything you would like to add?
Chris: I want to thank Bina for putting on the Philly Bike show. Bina and Bilenky have really made this show grow and thrive, and they deserve so much credit for making this show a success.
Stay tuned… tomorrow, Chris Bishop questions Eric Estlund of…