Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Photo Essay on Richard Sachs

It's probably no secret that American framebuilding master Richard Sachs no longer takes orders for new bicycle frames. The wait list is already long enough that the man has all the work he needs for well into the foreseeable future. And the price for one of his superb frames is enough to make it an enviable commodity -- though still priced less than many of the popped-out-of-a-mold carbon fiber w√ľnderbikes that get so much attention today.

Photo used with permission by Nick Czerula.
Click on the photo for a link to the full collection.
I recently saw a very cool photo essay of Sachs at work in his Connecticut workshop by New Hampshire photographer, Nick Czerula. Czerula spent more than a year with Sachs, as a "fly on the wall," or following him along cyclocross race courses - capturing the man at work and at rest, at play and at competition. The photos were originally released as a book, Richard Sachs - Bicycle Maker, in 2012, though that book is currently out of print and hard to find (someone's currently offering a used copy for sale on Amazon for $2,904 plus shipping. Holy cow).

The book has been released for a limited time in a free online version through Adobe Slate - which makes for an interesting, dynamic viewing experience.

Czerula's collection contains very few words - only a minimum of captions or comments. Instead, he lets his crisp black and white photography tell the story of one of the most iconic of American framebuilders. One can scroll through the photos, and follow the process of building a frame - starting with lug preparation, and tube mitering, and up through brazing it all together. Something that is very striking, and is mentioned as one of the few captions, is that apart from a drill and a belt sander, Sachs uses virtually no power tools in his shop. Hand saws and files carry out the majority of his work. But there are also plenty of "stolen moment" shots of the man very much at ease with himself. Some shots capture the quirks and his humor, while other shots show him as a tough competitor on the cyclocross course.

The Richard Sachs - Bicycle Maker collection will be available free for a "limited time" on the Adobe Slate site, though I don't know how long that "limited time" is, so I recommend checking it out sooner rather than later.

And to see more of Czerula's work (a lot of which is bicycle-related), check out his websitefacebook, instagram, or twitter.


  1. As it happens, I was just browsing Richard Sachs’ photostream on Flickr this morning. There’s plenty to look at — nearly 20,000 photos.

    1. Yes, he does have a lot to look at. Great stuff.

  2. Off-topic: does anyone know any self-taught framebuilders? Share some knowldege, please.

  3. Richard Sachs might be the Great American Artist no one (except for dedicated cyclists, of course) has ever heard of.