More often than not, the best way to admire a hand-built frame is in the raw state — before it’s painted. That’s certainly true of the frames made by Tom Warmerdam, whose lugs are some of the largest in the business and… entirely made from scratch.
Tom’s frames exalt the craftsmanship of steel and the techniques used to shape it into a bicycle frame. He spends about 150 hours on each frame; covering it in paint would nearly be a mortal sin.
Each lug is a machined sleeve that perfectly fits the final internal tubes used for the triangles. These sleeves are tacked and brazed together to form a ‘mini frame’ which is then cut up to form the ‘lugs’ of raw material.
The Manhattan lug set is one of two standard designs that Tom has created, the other being the Hermes set — an example of which we have profiled previously. Like that Hermes frame, this frame is also made from stainless Columbus XCr.
Tom then proceeds to cut the designs out of the lug blanks by hand. No machining is involved, and he works tirelessly to obtain a result that he is happy with. You can be assured that his standards are high.
Tom does, however machine his own dropouts. It’s another strenuous endeavour but one that ties the frame together aesthetically. The fluted cable routing and custom brake bridge is more evidence of the pride Tom takes in his work.
The geometric calculations involved in the entire process are astounding, not to mention the technical skill required to braze those many windows so cleanly. Surely, diabolus est in singulis.