Iowa’s Jeffrey Bock is an unsung hero of America’s frame building fraternity. It’s almost a shock to learn that he’s made a few hundred frames — the first in 1975. This Blue Beauty is one of his latest and features Jeff’s own hand-carved lugs and paint work.
As you’d expect, Jeff’s story is a rich and fascinating one: He graduated from college and started working at Europa Cycles in Cedar Falls in 1974, where bikes and cycling took over his life — there were some months when he was riding over a thousand miles.
After a year, he had acquired a Raleigh Professional, a 1964 Schwinn Paramount, and a Campagnolo tool kit, but he was really seeking the next level: building the frames himself. So he made the pilgrimage to Michael’s Cyclery in Ames, Iowa.
There, he met with Michael Fatka, the owner, who introduced him, in turn, to Michael Bornstein, an employee who had been learning how to build the skills from Cecil Behringer. Bornstein took Jeff under his wing and placed the torch in his hands.
Bornstein helped Jeff build his first frame which is still in existence. Jeff’s second frame was made for a guy who gave Jeff a ride to Ames every weekend — and that one rode across the United States on the 1976 Bike Centennial Ride.
In 1979 he went back to school at Iowa State to gain access to a machine shop to build fixtures and jigs. He also completed his teaching certificate and taught printing and graphic arts for 30+ years in the Des Moines Public Schools — building bikes part-time.
Which brings us to the Blue Beauty, inspired by the randonneurs in Bicycle Quarterly. Jeff is mates with the “glib-tongued” Doug Fattic, through whom Jeff obtained some blank lugs, which he ornately carved and built the frame around.
The tubing is a random mix: “The fork was my last pair of Reynolds 531 EB708s,” Jeff says. “The chain stays, seat stays, and seat tube are from an old set of Tange Prestige I had in stock (I had been laboring under the impression that the set was heavier gauge, but it turns out, it was a very light weight set, with main tubes .7/.4/.7 wall thicknesses. The stays were also pretty light.).
“I used the Tange chain stays, rather than the NOS Reynolds 753 stays I have in stock, because the Tange stays were a bit longer and have a narrower oval (I was planning to run 42mm 650b tires and didn’t want to have to bend and/or crimp the stays to get clearance). The rest of the main triangle is True Temper OX Platinum in .07/.04/.07 wall thicknesses.
Jeff also built the front rack. The Spanninga rear light is wired through the frame and rear fender bead, and is painted to match the frame, along with the Honjo fenders and Silca Impero pump. The Brooks Pro is his long-time favorite model.
The lug lining was completed by Jeff himself, while the free-hand box lining on the tubes were executed by a retired sign painter/artist named John Parker. And the Bock/Goat correlation? If you know your beer, you’ll probably know the answer.
Jeff is opening up his order book again, so if you’re after an American-made classic by a living legend, get in touch with him via his Facebook page.
Special thanks to Christopher Maharry for the photos.