Unless you only discovered bicycles yesterday, you know that the New England-based builder has one of the best reputations for craftsmanship and artistry in the bicycle business. Weigle's experience goes back to the early 70s when he was hired by Witcomb USA cycles, which was an American operation of the British Witcomb brand. People familiar with that history know that this was where other frame-building legends Richard Sachs and Chris Chance also got their start. Weigle was trained at Witcomb's British factory, then built frames for their Connecticut factory until they closed up shop in '77. After that, he set up his own shop, still there in Lyme, Connecticut.
Over the years, Peter Weigle has evolved from building primarily racing and sporting bikes, some mountain bikes in the early 80s, and touring bikes. His emphasis in the last few years has been on randonneuring bikes -- inspired by the great French constructeurs of the golden age. Peter told me that the randonneur style has given him a lot of inspiration -- trying to take what's classic and beautiful, but to use modern materials and do something original and unique.
Take a look at a sampling of some really gorgeous work:
|These crowns took their inspiration from the Daniel Rebour drawing shown above. They started life as Pacenti Artisan crowns. The Aritisan crowns (seen HERE) are a favorite choice for a lot of builders because they have a lot of metal to work with, which means lots of possibilities for a frame builder to express a personal style.|
|This crown started life as a Grand Bois casting -- split apart and dramatically re-shaped, to be turned into a twin-plate style. According to Peter, this was the result of a challenge: The answer to a simple question, "Can you do this?"|
|Here is the above Grand Bois twin-plate crown, built up and painted a gorgeous blue. Note the box pinstriping on the frame. That head lug is awfully beautiful, too. I'd call it elegant.|
|This was inspired by a fork crown built by Jamie Swan, (see it HERE) which in turn was inspired by Jo Routens. Peter says it started out as an "ugly, heavy-looking Asian casting" -- Much material was cut away. The holes around the the top lighten the crown and add a decorative touch (which again, would be totally hidden when the fork is installed -- Surprise!). Those were drilled on a Linley jig boring machine.|
|Finished -- in a shocking pink! Peter used the fork shown above all season on his own bike and rode it hard, including the "rough and tumble D2R2 event." (Deerfield Dirt Road Randonee) Reynolds 531 fork blades -- a classic choice.|
|Here is a modified Pacenti Paris-Brest crown; an investment cast crown that is inspired by vintage twin-plate designs. Peter has removed some of the metal around the brake hole, lightening up the look a bit, while extending the points that shoot downward from the shoulders. The hooks on the sides were also re-contoured a bit to better flow into the lengthened point.|
Here is a look at the finished crown from above. In addition to the modifications already pointed out, you can see here that a decorative slot was added just above the point on the shoulders. There's also a beautiful hand-made rack that mounts to the cantilever brake bosses.
|A side view of the crown above lets you see how much that side point has been thinned and extended to almost needle-like proportions.|
|I saw an early J.P. Weigle frame on eBay a few years back that had this same fork crown treatment. It was close enough to my size, and the price wasn't too bad, that I'm still kicking myself to this day for not buying it.|
|Lastly, some "work in progress": January 1, 2014. A couple of re-worked Paris Brest twin plates, and a modified Grand Bois.|
As much as I've shown here in this post, there is a lot more to see. After all, the man has been building beautiful bikes under his own name for over 35 years (and just over 40 years overall). The photos above, and many (many!) more, can be seen on Peter's Flickr pages. Let me give a big Thank You to Peter for taking the time to share these and describe them for me and for the readers of The Retrogrouch.