Tag Archives: Marten Gerritsen

Tubes and Coffee 2018

Sorry, somewhat late this time, but better late than never.

 

Last December Marten had his M-Gineeering Tube and Coffee open day again, very enjoyable as ever, friendly company,

nice tubes

and great coffee (and food) inside the warm workshop

on a very grey, cold and snowy day.

The highlights of the day as far as I was concerned were two Alex Singer bikes, a modern solo and an older tandem, of which here are a few details. Starting will the fully plated solo, which is only a few years old.

and then moving over to the tandem.

The attention to detail in those old Singers is quite high, but that goes without saying really.

 

As a great surprise Marten presented his first frame, a streamlined one in fashion of the day, but very nicely made.

The time passed much too quickly again, and soon we were heading home, but we hope there will be another Tubes and Coffee this year.

 

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Tubes and Coffee 2015

Today saw the third open day at Marten Gerritsen´s workshop, and, as always, it was an event worthwhile visiting even if it meant driving about 370 km.

So the four of us, two friends plus my son plus myself, climbed aboard the trusty Volvo (now showing roughly 427.500 kms) and set off. After leaving the motorway the extremely flat countryside provoked the age old jokes we love so well (see on Thursday who´ll be visiting on Saturday…). We carried on through Stadskanaal displaying its lintbebouwing, ribbon structure

TC3StadskanaalLintwith its monotony interrupted by a jeep.

TC3jeeproof

Having arrived at M-Gineering, we found to our pleasure that Marten had again prepared his wonderfully tasty vegetable soup and apple crumble, which visitors tucked into without hesitation, but definitively with repetition.

tc3tableThere was the saucepan on the stove, filled with the soup, so

tc3stovetalks about bikes and cycling were well fuelled. They carried on the in “museum” part, where visitors were able to see among others a Barra alloy frame from Marten´s growing collection of classic bikes.

So we had lots of tubes to see, but he coffee wasn´t neglected, either.

tc3coffee

Contrary to us, a number of guests had arrived on their bikes, some of them made by Marten. Kogas were also well represented in the herd that was assembling in Marten´s yard.

tc3guestbikes

tc3orangeheadb tc3orangefull tc3orangefronthub tc3orangeforkcrInside the warm and cozy workshop people were able to marvel at wonderful bikes, old and new, and their components.

tc3rohlsilver tc3repair tc3kirkprectc3bluefullThe frame of a 29er single speed

tc3bluetoplug tc3bluereardo tc3bluechainstay tc3bluebridge tc3bilamnaked

Thank you, Marten, for a super day, and I´ll definitively try and be there next year, as anyone interested in handmade bikes should be.

I have taken a number of photos of some more great bikes, but, being hard pressed for time at the moment, I´ll post them later.

 

Williamson – Happy Ending thanks to m-gineering

Remember last year when I wrote the post on the seeming end of the way of the 1940s Williamson I had so looked forward to to riding?

https://starostneradost.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/h-williamson-or-the-end-of-it/

Exciting news: Marten Gerritsen of m-gineering has actually managed to repair the frame.

This is what it looks like now:

WRfullBefore looking at the headbearings I had had the frame at another friend´s place to get a hole in the chainstay fixed which had been worn into it by a wobbly chainwheel:

WRholeI then discovered the catastrophe of the more than worn headset, see old post for pics.

So what Marten did was that he machined down the fork crown ever so slightly to get rid of the ridge worn into it by the loose race,

WRforkcrstrengthened the fork column by fitting a tube inside its lower end,

WRtubeand here we were, back again on the way to full recovery. I have since managed to fit a b/b bearing and the headset, but so many parts are missing or u/s that I think I´ll use my boxes for replacements. Or can anyone help out with, for instance, a 1930s BSA chainset? See.

Speaking of boxes: The rear hub which came with the bike is a three speed Cyclo, and I found a (hopefully) correct rear derailleur in my box. So things are looking up, it seems.

Stay tuned for more pics as work progresses, but first a huge thank you to Marten.

M-Gineering Tubes and Coffee II

Another year has passed, and here we are for the second time (first time here: https://starostneradost.wordpress.com/2013/12/22/test/) in Marten Gerritsen´s workshop for another dose of apple crumble, vegetable soup and bike talk.TAppleforkleg

Having driven up from Germany together with two friends and my son (who actually did the driving, and who is shortly to publish a video of Marten´s open day on youtube), I enjoyed the get-together greatly, talked a lot to the many participants, stroked the cat

TKatand had a good helping or two of Marten´s delicious apple crumble.

TfoodfullAs before, the atmosphere was friendly, and an always helpful Marten was confronted with a number of questions by his customers, or perhaps visitors. One had brought the sorry remains of a BSA parabike, which took the idea of the folding bike to new heights.

TBSAbb

This looks quite a normal parabike b/b, painted over, true.

TBSAwingnut

And a beautiful wing nut is securing the two halves of the frame. Here´s the rear dropout,

TBSAreardoand here´s the horror:TBSABreak

TBSAFolderMarten´s comment was that he would see what he could do. Brave man. Obviously some bad welding had damaged the braze joint decades ago.

TBSAcranks

Not easy to ride with the cranks at this weird angle, and the shark fin teeth are witnesses for the hard life the bike must have had.

 

But of course there were much nicer bikes to be marvelled at. The BSA was a cheapo even when new (one bystander remarked that it was never meant to last, but to be shot at). This one, Marten´s show bike to be taken to trade fairs, is a completely different matter. Just look at the first rate fillets and the constructeur-like parts such as the rear dropouts.

TsilverdtransfTsilverfull  Tsilverseatcl TsilverS+Scouplers TsilverRohlcomm TsilverRofltwgrip Tsilverreardodet Tsilverreardo Tsilverrack  Tsilverftdo Tsilverforkcr TsilverFillet TsilverextTsilverVeloOsaddleThere was one frame, bilaminated for good measure, which had just been completed and could be contemplated before painting. This was a great opportunity to see what things in frame building should be like. If it were mine, I´d probably just have it clear coated with some durable, but transparent paint.

Tworksbarebb Tworksbareseatcl Tworksbarefillettophead TworksbarefilletlwrheadThen of course it was very nice to be able to delve into the secrets of a frame builder´s workshop, with all the small, but important bits and pieces spread before you.

TLathe

Tworksforkcrns Tworksboxbits Tworksblockforkbl Tworksblock Tworksbits

M-Gineering are the Dutch importers for SON products, so we were able to regard some unusual demonstration objects.

TSONbunt TSONdemoint TSONdemoblau

By the time we had had a good look round the shop, some more specimens of Marten´s work had arrived outside.

TBluefull TBlueladreardo TBlueLadexc

TMLadiesfull

Neither were other marques absent, just one example:

TSalsabucketfull TSalsaforktransf TSalsadttransfAnd what would Tubes and Coffee be without some choice veteran bikes, serving as eye candy as much as objects of comparison, expertly explained by Marten. Take this Graftek for example, with its carbon fibre tubes bonded into stainless lugs. Rare lightweight equipment completes the bike.

TGraftekddtransf

TGraftekbrake TGraftekseatl TGraftekrearder TGraftekpedal Tgraftekheadb TGraftekfrontend  TGraftekchainMarten isn´t forgetful about the Dutch cycle making history, either. Ko Zieleman was one of the more famous Dutch builders.

Tzielheadb

Tzielcrank TZielseatcl

The wrapover tips – accident or joke?

TZielReyn  TZielforkcrAnd this was what guided the way onto Marten´s yard:

TKopPedfull TKopPedheadbLastly, I just can´t resist to post a photo of the unusual village Marten lives in, and of the equally unusual vehicle one of the visitors arrived in.

TCanal TCXI just can´t wait for the next edition of Tubes and Coffee.

Framebuilder Interview – Marten Gerritsen

Reading the blog of someone the other day who has helped with finding my way to blogging, I saw that there was an interview of another blogger there. Then the idea entered my head that it might be interesting to see not only what other bloggers say, but also what the people on the other side of the blowtorch think about steel frames, maybe to find out a little bit of their histories and their build philosophies.

I then proceeded to write a questionnaire, sent it off to a few builders to begin with, and Doug Fattic was kind enough to develop the questionnaire further than I had been able to. Marten Gerritsen of M-Gineering was the first to return it (Thank you, Marten!) together with some photos, so here is what I hope to be the first of a long series of posts.

If any of my readers build frames, pro or amateur, and would like to be interviewed too, I will be happy to e-mail the questionnaire. Please contact me via the comment function of this post.

 

Your name and company name:

Marten Gerritsen, M-Gineering

Warmup: Finish these sentences, please:

A bicycle is…

a vehicle with two wheels by definition, but hopefully an extension of your body.

A steel framed bicycle is…

a bicycle, just like bicycles made of  aluminium, bamboo, carbon or the rest of the alphabet.  It just happens that I like steel and build with steel.

The best frame I ever rode is…

There isn’t  ‘A best frame’  (you’ll need lots of different ones 😉 ) But it starts with good fit and decent tyres.

 Some personal questions:

Who is your favourite steel frame builder?

To quote one of several: WCAMO

(Editor´s remark: I do, else I wouldn´t have asked :-))

Who are other framebuilders you would buy a frame from (if you didn’t make it yourself)?

If I need a bike to ride I might just as well make it myself.  Seems a bit silly to build a load of frames to have enough left over to pay somebody else to build a frame for me 😉

What for you is the best looking frame ever?

When I look at a frame I look at all the details, the good, the bad, what can inspire me etc.  I don’t bother with marking all the aspects to arrive at a ranking.

What type of frames do you build most?  Has this changed over the course of your career?

I do mostly touring frames, either randonneuring style or for heavy duty touring in fillet brazed construction.

I started out building bikes with front and rear suspension, and the occasional racing bike, but the market has changed.

What type of frame do you like best?

Anything which puts a smile on your face

Which is your favourite cycling book?

I could probably recommend half a dozen or more, all for different reasons. But is a cup of tea better than a sandwich?

(Another remark: Marten has written one himself, of course.)

Do you have any favorite cycling references in popular culture (like in movies, TV, or on youtube)?

Again, I’m no good in rankings.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to become a framebuilder?

Do your homework!

Your history:

What made you become a frame builder?

Chance?

When did you start building?

Define start. I’ve been tinkering with bikes and scooters from very early age. Got a welding set when I was 18 or so.

Who taught you to build frames?  Were there others that helped or influenced you after you got started?

Taught myself basically, but a degree in Automotive Engineering and teaching machining classes (read drinking coffee with proper machinists)  helped.

What are some of your future goals?

Better paint, more reliable delivery dates

Your customers:

Which customer behaviour do you like best?

I like them to have done their homework first.  Being difficult to find in a small village up north helps in weeding out the less motivated 😉

Which customer behaviour do you dislike most?

I don’t let it worry me, if it gets too bad you can always fire them.

Do you fit your customers before building them a frame (find their bicycle contact points)?  If so, how do you do it?

Measure them, run the measurements through a fit programme, measure the current bike, observe the customer riding the bike, compare the findings and discuss their wants.

Describe how you deal with customers that can’t be measured or fitted in person.

Try to avoid it really,  it is much better for both parties and the end result to have met in person and to have talked bikes.

Your workshop:

Which of your tools would you least want to do without, save whatever you use for brazing?

If you have enough tools, you can always use an alternative.  But a framebuilder without a vice (or several vices) is unthinkable

What methods do you use to check frame alignment? What type/brand of fixture/jig/tooling do you use in it?

I’ve got a 1x1m cast iron surface plate, all other tooling and fixturing is of my own making.  I align the rear triangle to the headtube, the BB is secondary.

What equipment do you hope to get in the future?

A better Tig welder, and perhaps a decal cutter and an expresso machine

What would you get if you didn’t have budgeting restraints?

Tempted to say a CNC mill and a water jet cutter, but would i find the time to get them operational? And of course a bigger lathe, a horizontal mill, DRO’s all round, a bead blaster,  a heavier pillar drill…. (you get the picture, I like machines)

Production methods and materials:

What is your preferred way to join tubes?

Filled brazing

Which are your preferred lugs, if any?  Why did you choose them? What are your other favorite materials?

Don’t do much lugs apart from forkcrowns,  and usually use flat dropouts for slotted stays. Basically I use whatever does the job, and is affordable, I don’t have much call for the ueberfancy stuff. I like doing the occasional bilam though.

MartenBilam

What differences do you see in tube brands? What brand(s) do you prefer?  What is your philosophy in choosing tubing brands, diameters and wall thicknesses?

I use a lot of Reynolds as they have gauges suitable for touring frames and are a reliable supplier. But a frame could easily have Reynolds frametubes, Deda stays, a Columbus steerer and some Mannesman cromo.

Do you expect/wish for any new developments in tubes or lugs?

With all the classical suppliers going to the wall (Like TCI who made most of the forged dropouts)  we’ll see the continuing trend to parts made with processes more suitable to small scale production.

Marten Reardo

What do you think the future will hold for steel frames?

They haven’t changed much over the last 125 years…

What process do you use to design your frames?

Determine the basic dimensions defining fit, the wheelsize , the loads and the desired look,  feed it into a computer program i’ve written and play with all the variables untill i’m happy. If things get complicated I’ll make a 2d drawing.

Do you paint your frames yourself?  If so, do you offer repainting services?

No

How important are the looks of your frames?  Describe any artistic aspects you incorportate into them (or can do if asked).

The frames I build are tools to do a job. Styling is secondary to function, but I’ll play with    dropouts, seatstay attachment, the shape of the bridges etc. But you’ll have to look for it, I try to keep it restrained.

MartenHead

Getting rid of frames:

How do you market your frames?

Website, word of mouth, occasional bikeshow

Where is your biggest market?

Netherlands and Belgium

Numbers:

Approximately how many frames have you made to date?

I’m not counting, maybe a dozen a year on average.

Would you disclose your frame numbering system, please?

6 digits:

first two build series , eg 01 = radical, 99 is a custom build

middle two: year of construction

last two : sequence number

Lastly:

Ask yourself an additional question, please.

What sort of riding do you do?

Started out touring , my first proper lightweight (after a horrid Peugeot) was a Champion Mondial. Rode to the Mediteranian and back at age 16. Did some racing at University but nobody had a clue (as I found out later when playing team mechanic) so wasn’t any good at it.  Did some HPV racing. Still trying to ride, but long tours don’t mix with running your own business, so have to steal the occasional weekend or week for some road or off-road touring

Any remarks?

Thank you for your interest

Photos courtesy of Marten Gerritsen/M-Gineering.

Open Day at M-Gineering

So we got in the car, in a place for which the word “provincial” is a compliment, but it´s where we live.  We drove through the Northern German Plains, for about 200 km, until they become the Northern Dutch Plains, and then we saw that where we had arrived there are still more open spaces (if that is possible), but the dogs are much cuter, too, as a consolation.

MNeighbdog

Actually, so are the cats.

MKatzeRahmenAnd, of course, the bicycles, and that´s what we´d come to Kiel-Windeweer for, after all.

Last Sunday Marten Gerritsen, owner of M-Gineering, maker of fine steel bicycle frames, and importer of SON lighting products for the Netherlands, treated everybody who happened to be in his shop to vegetable soup, appletart and other goodies, and to a brazing demo.

When the three of us (my son, a friend and myself) had found Kiel Windeweer, a small place near Groningen,

MZentrumKW

the other two thought we´d made it. However, as I had been before, I knew that this road to the rear of me

MDorpstrdoes lead to Marten´s place, but it´s quite a way along the long and straight canal. Suddenly we were there, though, and turned into a yard. You know that you´re right when you look into Marten´s shop window.

MShopwindowMarten´s whole place is pure understatement, at least from the outside. It´s not discernable that the simple farmhouse Marten lives and works in houses the knowledge and the machinery to make some of Europe´s finest bicycles.

This is where you can find the workshop.

MEntranceThese wide open spaces are what´s to the right:

MWidecountrAnd this is what´s inside:

MMaschinenHere we have a milling machine and a lathe, indespensable for any serious sort of metalwork.

MTischOn this bench there is a vise and (front) a wooden device for bending fork blades.

Mshop

MRafters

MBrazeapp

MAligningframeMarten built this aligning device himself, preferring to have the seat tube as the base which is at right angles with the aligning device and from which all the other tubes and angles emanate.

So after the tour of the shop we were treated to hot food, and soon about 40 visitors peopled the premises, all talking bikes, mostly Marten´s customers. They were shown the machinery and the parts necessary to produce steel bicycle frames while munching apple crumble, so I guess Marten´s workshop will have crumbs in all sorts of strange places.

MEssen

MForkcr

MHadenZettel

MRteile

MTeileMarten being the Dutch importer of SON, these products also feature prominently in his shop. There is an exploded view hub (the two white coils on the l/h side are the ingenious breathing tubes keeping moisture out of SON dynamos),

MSoninnena candlestick made from SON parts,

MKerzeEdeluxand a display pairing a SON, latest model, with a Shimano, cheapest model, which shows that the SON wheel keeps turning with the headlight switched on long after the Shimano wheel has stopped – with the headlight switched off.

This is much more impressive when shown in moving pictures, of course, and as soon as the film is ready and published on youtube, I´ll mention it in a post.

MDynamovergl

MBerryheadbAlso Marten´s collection of interesting examples from the history of the bicycle is growing, so of course a Johnny Berry frame, late model, has to be there, too, what with Berry being called the “framebuilders´ framebuilder”.

MTentoonst

Some visitors also had brought some of their nice bikes, adding to Marten´s herd, so a rather interesting exposition was assembled. It included, among others,  a High-E wheelset, a Barra alloy Mixte frame, a Marschall Randonneur, a ca. 1905 Columbia in an amazing condition, a late thirties Carpenter and a 1950 Thanet Silverlight.MTentoonstreOn the other side of the barn, leaning to a structure which housed Marten´s workshop until last year, there was a display of his own machines, among them the M-Gineering frame that Marten took to Doug Fattic´s to practise painting on. The paintwork bowls you over.

Next, Marten gave the brazing demonstration which everybody had been looking forward to. Two short lengths of tube were brazed together in the shape of a “T”.

MBrazing

MBrazeclose

 

MFenster

If you would like to get an impression of the Open Day in video form, here you go:

My son made this video.

Soon the very enjoyable afternoon came to an end, people got on their bikes and in their cars, and we all hope that there will be a similar event next winter. The combination of Marten´s apple crumble and his bikes would again prove irresistable, I´m sure.