Gaëtan shows us his bike repairs & frame building workshop in the heart of Brussels
Gaëtan grew up in Brussels and has been into bikes from an early age, riding the local trails, smashing bike into pieces and putting them back together. Since then, he has extended his knowledge of bicycles to more complex mechanics and even to frame building. Today he runs his own workshop in Brussels called L'Ecurie.
Gaëtan has been repairing his own bikes since he was a kid. At the age of 14, he learned the hard way that the tread of his bottom bracket shell was inverted on one side (like most bottom bracket shells). Having forced so much in the wrong direction, he realized that he had damaged it, indeed, the tread was completely destroyed. But this didn't discourage him. In fact, he turned out to be resourceful and taught himself how to fix it. That's how he became passionate about bicycle mechanics as much as he was about riding them. He continued to repair his and his friends rigid steel 90's mountain bikes... and never stopped since.
Over 30 years later and after many bottom brackets successfully repaired, Gaëtan decided to take his skills to the next level and took a frame building training at The Bicycle Academy close to Bristol, in the UK.
The chosen technique is called brazing, a versatile method that allows joining the main frame tubes as well as small parts like mounts and cable guides, all with a relatively compact equipment. That makes a lot of sense for a small workshop.
With brazing, the heat applied doesn't actually melt the steel tubes, but a filler material, in this case brass, which melts at a lower temperature and makes the joint. Afterwards, the joints are all nicely sanded down and finished up to a smooth result. There is a significant amount of craftsmanship in this technique. Medium and big production companies use other faster and more efficient techniques that generally require more infrastructure, equipment, and thus volume production.
The first creation
This bicycle was the first frame Gaëtan ever built. I personally love the fact that it's never been painted and that the metal is going through the natural rusting process. Everything is temporary and comes back to the earth, even our beloved bikes...
The bicycle is setup as a city bike, with the iconic Sturmey Archer 3 speeds hub, drum brakes, a set of classy Berthoud mudguards, a beautiful Selle Italia Turbo and a practical front "pizza" rack.
Where to find Gaëtan ?
Gaëtan's workshop is located in the commune Forest not far from Brussel's South Train Station. Check out his website www.ecurie.brussels or his Facebook page for more info.
The bicycle Gaëtan is casually letting go on the photo below is one of his latest project and I can tell you it is REALLY cool ! find out more on this article.