peloton: What year did Wizard start?
Brian Baylis: Wizard Cycles started around the middle of ’74.
peloton: How long did Wizard run?
Brian Baylis: We went back to Masi when Mario and those guys parted ways. Middle of ’76. I moved from Huntington Beach to Leucadia. Mike was the brazing foreman and head brazer. I was the painting foreman and taught all the guys how to shape and file the lugs. By then we were using investment cast lugs.
Masi was the very first company to use investment cast lugs. Made by Microfusione in Italy. Same company made all the stuff for Cinelli. It was their work that was copied by the Chinese and Taiwanese. The very first set didn’t allow for shrinkage. They shrink about 14-percent and so they were all miniatures.
peloton: How long did you stay?
Brian Baylis: We all thought Bill Recht was going to buy Masi USA. Bill couldn’t complete the purchase and moved to LA and started Medici. That was in ’77 or ’78. Medici was in downtown LA. Medicis were painted in Mario’s shop. I stayed in Encinitas. Went to Alaska for a while. I was in a monastery. It was a half a year of really intense self-realization. After I returned in ’78, I did some work for Medici as a subcontractor. Then Ted Kirkbride called me. That was 1980. He had started a co-op in San Marcos. Ted Kirkbride negotiated the right to make Masis. Jim Allen was the painter. He had this building, put in a spray booth and all these cubicles. Dave Moulton, Dave Tesch and Joe Stark were all making Masis. For a period of time the building was shipping Masi, Moulton, Baylis and Tesch.
We parted company when Masi moved into their new building in ’83. That’s when CyclArt rented that building. Moulton and Tesch moved into their own spaces as well. I did a super-special gold-plated Masi in ’83. The last time I really worked for someone else was then.
peloton: Who makes the tubing and lugs you like to use?
Brian Baylis: I stick with the vintage tubing. It has always worked and is always going to work. I use Reynolds 531 and Columbus SL, SP and PL and PS. I love Nervex Professional lugs. Most folks don’t want to put the kind of work into them to make them beautiful. They have tremendous potential. They have characteristics that allow me to do things with them. I use Prugnat, too, but don’t like Bocama much. The question is what do you do with them. I’ve been doing it 40 years and I’m not even close to running out of things to do with them.
peloton: Tell us about the jig you use.
Brian Baylis: The fixture I have is one made by Jim Allen. This was when I was working down in San Marcos. It’s the same design as he made for Ted Kirkbride for making Masis. I have another that makes the rear ends and the forks. I really don’t use it for all that long. It’s in there a half hour or an hour. You get it in there and tack it and the take it out. I have two granite tables. All a fixture does is save time.
peloton: What sort of cutting and shaping of lugs do you like to perform? Does it vary from bike to bike or are there stylistic elements people can find running through all your bikes?
Brian Baylis: The way I go about designing a lug, the first thing I try to do is not to do the thing I did before. It’s not impossible but it’s not easy. There are certain general elements that are successful. Points, some are long, some are short. I know where to stop and what elements to put in and how to join them. You gotta know how to combine elements. The trick is learning how to make the shoreline, to make something original but not too original. I was once asked to cut a lug that looked like the nose of a pig. I passed on that. If it works for me, most folks will like it. A friend of mine who is an artist and went to art school said, ‘Your lugs always have proper proportions.’
The thing about Baylis frames is, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen one. In 40 years I’ve not made two bikes the same. Each shape of a lug cutout is an individual creation. I cut what I feel like, what I feel is appropriate, but I’ve done Fleur di Lis, hearts, spades, diamonds and clubs. I like to cut lugs out because windows are an aid to brazing. They help penetration.
peloton: When fitting a customer for a bike, how do you usually work? How often is it in person?
Brian Baylis: Every customer is different. If they can get here, that’s the best way. Anyone who’s going to buy a Baylis has had a lot of bikes. They are real, dedicated cyclists. They usually come with a bike they like and they know why they like it. It’s just asking a lot of questions. You have no idea why, but I’m asking questions. I’m writing down things and by the end I have all the dimensions I need. It takes probably a 100 questions or so. What do you like, what don’t you like, what would you change?
I need three photos of rider on bike: bar tops, hooks, hoods. It’s not unusual for there not to be any significant changes. All they have to tell me is what they want. I know what to do.
peloton: Let’s talk about geometry: Would you say your all your bikes have a consistent ride that is your signature, or do you vary your geometry based on the customer’s preferences and needs?
Brian Baylis: The answer to that should be apparent but I respond to what the customer’s needs are. I’ve owned over 100 bikes in 40 years. I’ve made myself over 50 bikes. You learn a thing or two about how bikes ride when you own that many. You have to respect what the rider wants the experience to be.
peloton: What informs your sense of color?
Brian Baylis: It started off with Imron in ’74 when we first started using it. Imron was brand new. They still didn’t know how to do metallics. They were fleet truck colors. Not really classy looking on the bike. I wanted good paint colors. I tried lacquers. That didn’t work. I asked the paint shop to put pearls in Imron. I was probably the first to do pearl in Imron, definitely the first to do it on bicycles. I hate metallic Imron colors. I like pearls.
I learned I could make all my own colors by purchasing toners. Most of my colors are two or three layers, custom-mixed on the spot. Most are in layers, techniques no one was using back in the day. I’ve been mixing my own colors for 40 years.
peloton: How long is the wait for new customers?
Brian Baylis: I really don’t tell anybody anything. I’ve been in a catchup mode and overseeing a remodel of my home. I tell people I’m not taking orders, but I take orders as a feel like it. It’s no rhyme or reason. I don’t want to take on anything that’ll make it hard to catch up.
peloton: In the interest of keeping the tire kickers to a minimum, what’s your pricing like?
Brian Baylis: They start at $5000 and go up. What I do for $5000 is what you generally see. You come to me for a reason. Sometimes someone comes to me and says, ‘I want a Baylis, but I want to keep it simple to keep the cost down.’ I tell them, ‘Then you don’t want a Baylis.’
Most of the work is in the mitering, cleaning, preparation. I may only spend eight hours on the lugs. I make a drawing for every single bike; it’s an individual bike down to every single tube.
peloton: What’s your life away from building like? Are you racing or do you have outside interests?
Brian Baylis: I love playing drums, been doing it a long time. And I’m good at it. I make knives, too, and stained glass as well.