Monday, February 24, 2020


With a couple of months of anticipation building, things are starting to come together now that my vintage Specialized Sequoia frame is back from the painters.

Fresh from the painters. Still needs decals.
There's something really incredible about a fresh, newly painted bike frame and a full collection of nice components to complete it. I mean, a newly painted frame even smells good. Add to that the smell of Brooks Proofide on a new leather saddle, fresh grease, and new tires, and a new bike project is a feast for the senses.
Decals are placed - and it looks awfully nice.
For paint, I took the frame to Franklin Frames in Newark, Ohio. The builder/painter at Franklin is Jack, and he does excellent work, and his prices are among the most reasonable in the business. The turnaround time wasn't too bad, either - it was about 6 weeks from drop off to pick up. And as an added bonus, he's located only about 2 hours away from Akron. I've had Jack do frame repairs on a couple of different frames for me in the past, and he did the beautiful burgundy paint on my Expedition a couple years ago.

In the past, I've always boxed the frames up and shipped them, but this time I decided to skip the packing and shipping and just make the drive to Newark so I could meet up with Jack in person. That was helpful because I really liked the original color of the Sequoia and wanted get his advice and look at color samples to help us get as close as possible to the original shade. I think we got pretty close to the shade, though the new paint has a more pronounced metallic sparkle than the original, which had just a very fine, subtle metallic to it.

The workmanship on these is really special for a production frame. The long-point lugs are nicely thinned, and the shorelines are very clean. The tubing stickers don't identify the maker, but the Special Touring tubes were a custom-order tube set from Tange.

Apart from chipped and scratched paint, the frame was in pretty nice shape as I got it. One thing I wanted to get addressed, though, was the top tube cable guides. There was some rust under them, and even though it wasn't bad enough to make it a repair issue, I asked Jack to remove them. Fact is, those little guides, which were so popular on bikes in the '80s, are total sweat traps. I almost never find old bikes from that era where they don't have rust bubbling up around them. Same goes for the little cable clamps that were once common, if not installed with care. As an alternative, I had him braze on split cable stops to the lower side of the top tube - which I think is an improvement for durability, and also makes cable replacement easier. Some people also feel that brake feel/action is improved slightly by reducing some of the length of housing that the brake cable has to pass through (nevertheless, I don't know that I've ever noticed the difference).

Showing a little SunTour pride. That was not part of the standard Sequoia decal set, but one I added. When I got the frame, it had a sticker in that location for a different component brand - I figured I'd give a little credit to SunTour for the fine components I'll soon be hanging on the frame.

Decals came from VeloCals in California (the SunTour one came from Cyclomondo, aka Greg Softley). The originals on the frame were of the "peel-n-stick" vinyl variety, which is the same thing one gets from VeloCals. Rather than have the decals put on at the painters, I opted to install them myself after getting the frame home. There's no real trick to it apart from making sure the surface is super clean, and not handling the decals too much and getting fingerprints in the adhesive. Well, you have to be careful to get them on straight, too.

One thing I find interesting about the graphics that Specialized was using in this generation of bike frames is that they are exactly the opposite of what one finds in bike graphics today - or maybe any day. First of all, the main logo on the downtube is the model name "Sequoia," while the brand "Specialized" is in tiny font and barely noticeable. Typically (especially today), the brand name is like a billboard on the downtube, visible from half a mile away, in addition to more branding and logos on top tubes, seat tubes, and sometimes even the forks and stays. On these early '80s Specialized bikes, the graphics overall are minimally tasteful. Just a name on each side of the downtube, and a small "S" logo on the headtube.

That's what I can show for right now. There will be more, so stay tuned.


  1. Very nice. I'm hoping to do this on several of my frames as time and finances permit.

  2. Back in the 1980s, we had a few Franklin frames in stock at the Ski Rack, in Burlington. As I recall, someone from Franklin was in the area and stopped by on a cold call. Not only were they super-nice people to deal with, I really liked the no-nonsense value in both their frames and their repair/repaint services. I was hoping we could use them as a tandem supplier, as Santana's approach was decidedly not small dealer friendly. I was hoping that moving customers to Franklin would result in fewer road trips to Montreal. While I always enjoyed dealing with the folks at Marinoni, I was tired of the long, monthly drive, and too many customers were doing an end-run around the dealer and buying their Marinonis direct. I always felt bad that we didn't generate more business for Franklin. I think we only sold one frame, finally shipping the others back, as they were on consignment. The brazing and painting were excellent, and I'm glad they've stayed in business all this time. At the time, we were paying Marinoni a ridiculously low $35 CAD for a sweet, though brittle paint job, and that included the prep. Franklin's price on a more durable Imron job was also an dxcellent deal, and far cheaper than CyclArt, but when the shipping was added in, the vast majority of people opted for a Marinoni repaint.

  3. That's going to be a very nice bike! Your Sequoia build is helping to peak my interest in quality Japanese offerings of the 1980's, diverting my attention from vintage Italian race bikes for a bit. I acquired an early 80's Univega Competizione frame (made by Miyata I think), that is near pristine and will build up with mostly or all Suntour parts.

    1. Yes - by the early 80s, Japanese production bikes had gotten very nice. The Univegas were (you're correct) mostly made by Miyata. Were they ALL? I don't know - and I know that some later ones were probably made in Taiwan. But I've seen some very nicely built Univegas.

    2. You had a great informative article some time ago about Ben Lawee, creator of Italvega/Univega/Bertoni. There was a comment from someone who convincingly believed their Univega was a very early Italian build. There's probably someplace on the web that I can check serial #'s for more info, but I'm thinking the one I got is early 80's because the cables are routed above the bottom bracket (I think pretty much all builders had switched to below bb cable routing by about 83/84), and not Italian b/c of Tange tube sticker. I dabbled in racing back in those days and have a distinct memory of drafting behind a guy who was riding a Univega identical to the one I now possess. I was never able to pass him and he finished well ahead of me, I can remember thinking "maybe I should get one of those", finally - now 35 years later.

    3. I do think it was possible that a couple of the top-of-the-line Univegas, at least in the first year or two of that brand, might have still been made in Italy. I don't have any evidence for that, but I've heard a couple of people say that their Univegas were Italian-built, and it strikes me as plausible.