In 1977 I built a custom bike. At its core was a 65cm Eisentraut Touring Frame. I was 26, and 6′ 2″. Earlier this week I sold the frame to Jay.
While I didn’t ask, the Eisentraut frame was likely older than Jay. I also did not ask why Jay wanted to ride this relic – I didn’t have too. Jay gets it.
As a bike the ‘Traut was my principle transportation for roughly ten years. I chose every component. It was me with wheels. When the bike and I were in our prime we were a human powered kinetic sculpture. We were more agile than traffic and more clever in our route finding than any satellite navigation system.
The bike was idiosyncratic in a good way. It was built while I lived in Arcata, California and I lived there for the next two or so years. As transportation in a place known for its rain and fog I choose Phil Wood bearings (bottom bracket and wheel.) I had Ray Glover, an artist in chrome molly the equal of Albert, build some brackets that converted the bike from side pull to center pull brakes. I prefer center pull brakes on an every day bike and Ray indulged me. A bike ridden for everyday transportation needs fenders and so fenders were added. Things need to be transported so on went front and rear Blackburn racks. The shifters on the down tube as God intended. Most everything else was Campy. Except for the generator and light. I had the folks at Eisentraut do some braze on’s and among them was a friction generator mount.
Arcata is occasionally flat but, thanks to the Coast Range, more often hilly. The gearing on the bike, built 32 years ago, was of the stump pulling variety long before Mountain Biking made small front chain rings all the rage. When the bike and I rode up Fickle Hill the front wheel would barely stay on the pavement and had just enough forward speed to keep it upright. But I could stay seated even as real bike riders had to stand.
I left Arcata for San Diego in 1979 and I spent the next five years with the worlds best commute. I lived in Pacific Beach and worked in a building on the beach in La Jolla. With 7 miles to ride each way and only occasional weather the car stayed parked and the bike and I made the daily round trip.
The route too work was uneventul. The route home was through downtown La Jolla. First came the tranquil climb from the beach up the hill above the village. From there the ride was back to sea level through a maze of traffic. Automobiles were driven by folks who could not see bicycles and every parked car had a door that could fly open with uncanny timing. However, perched high on the 65cm Eisentraut frame, I made safe, quick passage through all this hundreds of times.
Except for the occasional flat tire, the Eisentraut was beyond reliable. As a big, chrome molly frame, it was just soft enough for daily riding. It went exactly where it was pointed. Although I never abused it, the ‘Traut had no problems with the standard insults of a daily commute.
And then, thanks to a virus that settled into the wiring between my brain and middle ear, my balance became compromised and the Eisentraut with the careful chosen components was parked. And it set, well hung, for 20 years.
My balance is mostly back but not so good that I could use the bike in the way that I intended it to be used. So, after much stalling, years of stalling, I sold it to Jay. I don’t really know Jay. But in the several emails and the ten minutes that it took to exchange the now ancient bike for some small amount of money, I met someone who values the work of a craftsman and values it as the tool that it was intended to be. The bike will be used – not collected for its art but bought for transport.
Good luck Jay. Watch for knuckleheads – they’re everywhere.