If you ride a tandem or an old high-wheeler, you know the default comments you’re going to get on just about every ride.
On the former it’s some variation on, “Hey, I don’t think she’s pedaling back there.” (She is; she always is.) And on the latter it’s, “How’s the weather up there?” (Fine, but I’m not sure about the wind direction. Shall I spit and find out?)
Thoughtless comments, really. People trying to be clever, and all failing the exact same way.
And now I am one of those people.
Because I looked at Julie Ann Pedalino’s business card at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show and basically asked her if that was her real name.
Well guess what. It was. It is. And she was really, really nice about it.
Too nice, really, because you know three hundred other people probably asked her the same question. On the same day.
But let’s leave my thoughtlessness aside.
Julie Ann, an apprentice frame builder and mechanic at Velo+ in Lenexa, Kansas, was showing a really, really nice bike based on a fillet-brazed True Temper OX Platinum frame, complete with head tube badge and top tube accents she created with a jeweler’s saw.
Fillet brazing is used to assemble steel frames without using lugs. The builder joins the tubes, then continues to feed brazing rod around the intersection, eventually forming a smoothly curved transition from one tube to the other.
As in lugged construction, the builder strives to maintain the same temperature throughout the joint without overheating the tubes. However, it takes longer to complete a fillet-brazed joint, which puts a premium on one’s ability to maintain focus.
The technique comes in handy when lugs matching a frame’s dimensions aren’t available. It can also give the completed work an organic quality, as though it emerged from the steel mill as one continuous shape, not as separate tubes.
Unfortunately, once painted, bicycle frames tend to mask much of the work that go into them. (This is why Brompton offers an optional clear finish, to fully expose that brand’s “stack of dimes” brazing technique.) If Julie Ann’s frame somehow emerged from a major bicycle brand, I’d expect to see a sticker on the seat tube reading “This is Way Harder Than It Looks.”
I think she said this was her third frame. And while she eagerly credited her mentors at Velo+ for their guidance, all I could think was: Third frame. Fillet brazed. Pedalino.
Her skill and enthusiasm for the work are obvious–just check her Facebook page. That’s why I’m looking for her name on future builds.