The Story of Paul Brodie – Bicycles and Motorcycles
1; How did you start frame building ?
I designed and built a mini-bike when I was 12. My Father did help a bit, and I only learned to weld halfway through the project when I took metal shop in grade 8. It cost $110 in materials. The full story is on my website… flashbackfab.com
Seventeen years later, I was working at a bicycle shop in Vancouver (1984) when I saw the first (red) Ritchey Team Comp arrive in the city. It had matching (red) Bullmose Handlebars and it was a pivotal point in my life. I had never seen anything like it. That same day I salvaged a 25″ Sekine 10 speed frame from the shop dumpster, took it home, and cut it up to create my own version of Toms’ masterpiece. My fork jig was 2X4’s and plywood, and by the time I had tacked the fork together using the oxy-acetylene, it was well on fire. Truly a “one-off” jig. The head angle (on the finished bike shown below..) was too steep, the BB too low, and I put bondo over my welds (shame of all shame.)… but it helped to get me a job with Rocky as their first MTB framebuilder. It was definitely an exciting time..
2;You came from a motorbike background what made to jump to mtbs ?
My whole life has alternated between motorcycles and bicycles. I started working at a bicycle shop to get out of cab driving, which had gone on way too long. Less than a year later the first Specialized Stumpjumper showed up. Two weeks later the Red Ritchey Team Comp came in the door… I was in the right place at the right time.
3;How did it feel when you were inducted into the mtb hall of fame ?
There was anticipation, some nervousness, and excitement. I was one of the the “British Columbians” being inducted. Not all of us were able to cross into the USA; it seems that some of us were unlucky enough to have been previously apprehended and charged with possession of a certain leafy green plant, if you know what I mean. I believe 6 of us made it down. We were greeted, told to relax, short ceremony, don’t have to say anything… I remember Tomac and Tinker being there, so there certainly were some names for sure. And then it became apparent that we WERE going to have to say something… There was no particular order, so you had to take a bit of initiative if you didn’t want to end up last, by default. I said it was an honor to be inducted into the HOF, and thanked them all. I told the story of getting the Sekine 10 speed frame out of the dumpster and taking it home and cutting it up to build my first MTB frame. This is the HOF award, and this is where it resides in my house >
4;Have you noticed a change to your customer base from bitd to now ?
I don’t sell bicycle frames any more; I teach Framebuilding 101.
5;There sems to have been some confusion in the early days amongst brodie kona and rocky fans and your involvement with The Bicycle Group (Kona) what role did you play in those early days with TBG and the likes of joe murray (kona welder) ?
We signed a bad contract with the wrong people and ended up in a situation that was unworkable for us. It escalated into a 2 year lawsuit. After the first year we got a better, more expensive lawyer, and so did they. Our great friendship with Joe Murray eventually blew up as he got caught in the middle. The lawyers got paid, neither side was able to claim victory, but we, Brodie Research and Technology Inc., finally had our freedom. And that’s all I need to say..
6;Did you have any involvement with other bike companys before you set your own company up and if so who ?
I worked for Rocky Mountain for 2 years (1984 – 1986) before I started Brodie Bikes. In the first year I designed and built frames, forks and bullmoose bars, painted everything, and was also production manager for $8/hr. After a year they refused to give me a raise, so I resigned as manager and went on contract work. I chose afternoon shift and I was on my own. I got $200 for a fillet brazed MTB frame and fork. At the start of the year it took me 16 hours to build a frame and fork, but at the end of the year I had it down to 8 hours. I worked the afternoon shift, and when it got close to midnight would use their machinery to build my own frame jigs and fixtures. No one ever walked in, but it would have been very hard to explain…
7;Are you aware of how much of a following your early steel frames have both in the uk and europe and have you seen the prices some of them have fetched recently ?
No, not really.
8;Are you still involved with the new brodie range of bikes and frames etc and if so how involved,do you design etc ?
We have a good relationship, but no, I am not involved with design.
9;If the above answer is no and for instance the name has been sold Would you ever want to go back into frame making perhaps under another name etc…?
I was in the industry 24/7 for 15 years, and we built 4261 frames. That’s quite a lot. It was good for me to take a 10 year break and get immersed in the re-creation of 1919 boardtrack motorcycles. I don’t feel the need to build bicycle frames except for friends and for fun. Teaching Framebuilding 101 is very good for me right now, and it’s just starting to take off.
10;Any details about your company Flashback Fabrications you could supply we could put here such as a link etc,we could link you on our front page if you liked….
Flashback Fabrications is basically me, so yes, please put a link on your front page. It’s all about creating with our two hands and following our passion and never stopping…
11;How are your frame building courses going and are there any names we should be looking at who have had some instruction from yourself ?
Framebuilding 101 is getting better and better. I learn from the experience too. The shop is constantly being refined and updated. The atmosphere at the University is very good; the students have voted it #1 in Canada several years in a row. One of my first students has setup a small framebuilding / repair shop, and this is his website: http://www.ledomestique.ca/
This is class #006 >
12;Do you get to ride still and if so what do you ride and where ?
I have very good road riding right outside my door. I take my Brodie Rodie for a spin now and then. (photo below) 1 1/8″ headtube, 35mm fork offset, 72.5 head angle, 73mm trail… very nice!
On Sundays I ride my 280 GasGas trials bike 3-4 hours at Ioco (best place for trials in the WORLD.)
My street bike is a yellow 996.
I road-race my Vintage Excelsior 358 several times a year at Pacific Raceways, just south of Seattle, WA. Shown without body work… 70.9 rear wheel HP @ 6000 rpm / 304 lbs.
Interview thanks to Scott De-Walden www.oldschoolmtb.co.uk