Baylis with collector Matt Gorski (l) and Cycles de Oro owner Dale Brown (r)peloton: Where are you based?Brian Baylis:
I guess technically La Mesa, not San Diego. We’ll call La Mesa headquarters.peloton: Is that where you grew up?Brian Baylis:
I grew up in initially in Burbank and from 10 or so lived in Huntington Beach. When I discovered cycling I was just graduating high school in Huntington Beach. I would call my hometown Huntington Beach.
peloton: When did you move to San Diego?Brian Baylis:
The first time was in 1973. I moved to Carlsbad to work for Masi. My first out-of-town experience was when I moved to Carlsbad to work for Masi in 1973. I was working for a Rolls Royce dealership in Orange County when the job with Masi came up. I met Faliero Masi, the manager and Mario [Confente, head builder] and everybody at a race in Escondido in ’73. I was racing an Italian Masi. Faliero autographed my number. They were all watching the race. I got there right at the beginning. They had only made a few frames.
I asked, ‘You need anybody to work there?’ I had a delivery for Rolls Royce down there and I stopped in and filled out an application. Very shortly after that I got two of my friends jobs there. One was Mike Howard, the other was David Vander Linde, someone no one knows. I think he’s a geologist in Boston now. He got me into cycling. He was the bassist in a band I was in. He said get a bike and we’ll go for a bike tour. We ended up renting a house together—me, Howard and Vander Linde.peloton: What’s the riding like there (where you live now)?Brian Baylis:
It’s actually outstanding. If you go east, you go out in the mountains, up into Alpine and all those big climbs. And then you’ve got your coastal ride, down to Coronado and all that. The riding is fantastic, into the boonies or along with coast with all the tri guys. And it’s not really badly trafficked either. A lot of riding out east. We have a velodrome here as well. We have it all, whatever you want.peloton: How long have you been building?Brian Baylis:
Since ’73. Yeah, the very first time I held a torch was Mario teaching me how to braze front dropouts into fork blades. I learned silver brazing on my own. I built my very first frame silver-brazed in 1974. It’s still alive and well, in a guy’s collection, totally rideable.
I think brazing is the easiest part of frame building.
Brazing with brass on the other hand—because you’re much nearer the end of the heat range for the tubing—is more difficult. You’ve got to be really good in a production environment. Silver is really easy.
Second time I moved to San Diego I was working for Masi in 1976. During that time I built four custom frames with my name on them. Start to finish including paint.peloton: What different roles did you hold while at Masi?Brian Baylis:
My first job was building wheels. Faliero showed me how to build wheels his way. Then glued tires on each one, his way, no glue on anything. Then, assembling parts, handlebars in stems with brake levers, also toe clips and straps to pedals. Filled up bin after bin full of these subassemblies. After that, then they started me with brazing and filing and stuff. With filing to clean up dropouts, seatstays and caps, fork crowns, shaping of lugs. There are all kinds of filing. That was the first time I worked there. And then at some point I became the painter’s assistant. I was the fourth American hired. Mike was being groomed for brazer. David and Chuck Hofer filed all the lugs for Masis for a few years.peloton: When did you start painting bikes?
The first painting I did was Wizards.
Every Wizard we made, we did a full-scale drawing. I got how to do that out of the Italian CONI manual. That’s where we started. Frame building is mostly a design exercise. I’m building for the next generation. Time will tell the real story. I’m building for when most of these craftspeople are gone. I’m building for quality, not quantity. My job is build bikes that stand the test of time. There are all kinds of different people and different frame builders. I’m a bit of a fanatic.