Last year, Travel Oregon coordinated seven local frame builders to build a bike specific to seven of the state’s natural features. One of the selected builders, Mike DeSalvo, worked with Land Shark’s John Slawta on a paint scheme that reflected the colours of Crater Lake. The two have again collaborated, this time with seriously eye-searing results.
Mike and John are neighbours, living only a few miles apart in Ashland and Talent, Oregon. They’ve been mates for over fifteen years and when the NAHBS has been held on the west coast, they’d travel with each other to the shows and back. It was during one of these trips that they only half-jokingly discussed working together.
Frame building is a relatively lonely occupation, but it does provide opportunities for collaborative alliances. John Slawta is a very accomplished frame builder himself, but was originally intent on a career as an artist. It seems these days he’s managed to combine the job of his dreams with his trade.
Mike DeSalvo is considered by many to be one of the best TIG welders in the business. In fact, he’s a member of the United Bicycle Institute’s faculty, teaching TIG Welding Seminars and steel TIG frame building classes. His titanium frames are highly sought after, assembled by a veritable master.
One of those collaborative discussions between John and Mike came to fruition. A plan was devised for Mike to build six frames out of titanium, to be painted with John’s palette-burning vision. This frame is the first to be unleashed, and it was appointed by Japan’s purveyor of quality components, SimWorks.
Mike relates that the brief from SimWorks was for a scheme that was “crazy, weird, and aggressive” and that’s what they got. John was given carte blanche for the artwork, resulting in an explosion of pop and street art references, ranging from Andy Warhol and Banksy to Keith Haring.
Mike says that it was fun to give SimWorks’ instructions to John and watch his wheels start spinning. When Mike asked him about certain elements of the artwork, his response was “people will see and take from it what they want.” Apparently there are hidden aspects which will remain known by John alone…
A black Chris King headset was going to be specified, but John, given free rein, opted for a gold unit. They aren’t finished: four frames remain and the second has a similar theme to the DeSalvo Crater Lake bike — which is quite subdued compared to this one. But if it’s being applied by John Slawta — the Artist — it’s going to sizzle some eyes.
Massive thanks to Tim Tidball for the fine photos.