This post is as much for my own self-reflection as for your edification. I declined a prestigious fellowship and left a career as a neuroscience researcher to become a framebuilder and start Métier Vélo LLC. Why would I do this?
There are a lot of reasons to leave a career in neuroscience research; the main two problems are 1) a glut of highly trained, qualified research scientists (with a Ph.D. and elite postdoctoral training) in the United States, and 2) chronic and severe underfunding of science and research in the U.S. (thanks, Congress). Clearly a bad combination. I won’t go into these problems here because they are boring and I can’t solve them.
The more interesting and relevant question is, why would I become a framebuilder? Here’s some items from the list I made when considering the career switch:
Framebuilding rewards perfection.
A polite term used to describe me is meticulous. For most jobs it is better to be done than perfect, but there are a few where meticulousness is a virtue. Framebuilding is one of them—a true métier, not a job to be done with.
Framebuilding is creative.
Another personality match. I can design a clever and beautiful lug, but it has to be strong and durable and last.
Framebuilding is science.
I use my science and math skills all the time. How do I know a joint will hold? How do I know I used the optimum amount of epoxy? How do I know which bond line will give me maximum strength? I do experiments. As much as when I was in the lab at the bench.
Framebuilding is making things.
It is immensely satisfying to finish an object of beauty and strength that lets you go fast. Much more concrete than experimenting on nervous systems (although making boys act like girls by altering a few molecules in a few neurons in their tiny little brains was pretty cool).
I can build better frames than [Trek | Scott | Cannondale | Specialized].
I first got the idea to build frames because I was unhappy with my Madone. $10K for a bike that was…meh. Then I started looking for a custom builder. Then I decided, “I can do that, and if I do it, I can have EXACTLY what I want.” No more “meh”.
Great community. In the end, we’re all riders.
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