The Birth of Jake's Machine
It all started when I reached out to Kyle for some tips on how to reupholster a saddle. My interest was piqued when I saw a saddle my dad somehow scored at The Oregon Hand-Built Bike Show. Kyle offered to meet up one evening the following week and was super kind in giving his secrets away. Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect from him when I showed up. Who was this guy that calls his company Machine and what does he do that separates him from the other frame builders? As I sat across Kyle, who had an impish grin, I deduced that he is one of those rare guys who happens to be good at everything he tries. Yet he was more than just that. I quickly learned that he is not satisfied with being just good as he will work on his craft until it becomes great. The rest of that night was spent learning about architecture (a subject I have always been interested in), learning about his welding, and talking about CNC machining, a subject I am studying. We also talked about woodworking as I work in that field designing kitchens and providing machining for contractors. The most amazing thing, however, was how he was able to relate everything he has learned into bikes. I learned a lot about bicycles that night and I decided that I would become a thorn in Kyle’s side. I wanted to learn from himalthough I had no previous knowledge in welding or metalworking at all.
Flash-forward to Christmas time and I was somehow able to talk all parties into the fact that not only will I be riding a Machine, but that I would be involved in the building process from the planning phase to the final wrap of the bar tape. Being charismatic and young enough, I was able to get the materials necessary to start this venture from my father. Over the next couple months, I met with Kyle every Friday and slowly worked on my frame with Kyle always guiding me and teaching me that everything you do is important. I learned that it is imperative to treat every step like it is the most important step and I think that this is where Kyle really comes into his own. He labors over getting everything just right in order to turn the end product into a beautiful Machine. Each step has to be carefully thought out and then meticulously executed to insure a perfect end product. Because of this, I felt guilty at first about not knowing how much time and energy goes into creating a bicycle, but overtime I became more confident in what I was learning and always looked forward to each Friday. Slowly but surely, my frame started to take shape. Not only was I learning how to create it, but I was also inadvertently learning what it was like to take pride in your work and to strive to be precise. I think that is how Kyle thought of Machine Bicycle Co., because he is focused on creating the perfect Machine for each and every one of his customers.
After a couple months of meeting once a week, my bike has gone in and out of powder coat. Powder coating a frame is important because it provides a durable base layer to protect the frame, as well as providing a blank canvas to design on. Kyle and I spent the whole day brainstorming ideas on how the bike should be painted to perfectly reflect myself. I ended up deciding that I wanted Kyle to paint it to what he thought would fit my character because I wanted to get a work of art that will reflect me from an unbiased person. When all was said and done, I returned to his workshop and I was stunned. There it was, hanging on the park tool work stand. It was painted with a beautiful matte grey, blue, and white and had little hints of neon orange to make it stand out. The bike looked fierce, fast, and playful, almost begging to be ridden at that very instant. While rested, the bike looked like it was in motion. I knew that Kyle had put forth all his effort in reflecting his view of me.
The first ride was amazing. Never have I felt a bike to be so responsive and comfortable. It truly felt like an extension of my body and I never wanted to get off. But a steep climb up Witham Hill in Corvallis convinced me that it was time to head back homeand wait until the next day to keep the adventure going. I believe part of Kyle’s nature has rubbed off on me over time. At first I noticed that I started to care more in making sure my work reflected my best efforts. Then I noticed that when I started to ride, I was riding harder than I normally rode in the past. By the end of our project, I not only got a bike, but a stronger work ethic.
I want to take this time to thank Kyle’s beautiful family, Emily and Ruby, for making me feel comfortable in your home and sharing Kyle with me. I also really want to thank Kyle for taking a lot of time out of growing his business and his family life to put up with me. What you helped me create is truly wonderful and will always be special every time I ride my bike. I still haven’t finished that saddle.