Andrés Arregui is the second bike maker featured in Finura. He is one half of Arregui Velazquez bicycles.
By the end of our phone call it was clear to me how hard it is to put into words subtle things like the painstaking attention to detail a craftsman can pay, or the amount of tacit knowledge that is created and applied with continuous practice.
How it all started
A couple of years ago, Arregui’s career seemed bound to science. A degree in quantum chemistry and an ongoing PhD thesis accounted for that.
However, a chance encounter with a bicycle workshop was the turning point. Such place was called Ciclos Noviciado back then, currently Ciclos La Universal.
During the last year of his PhD studies Andrés began hand-building wheels. It was ok for a while, but he felt he needed a bigger canvas.
Andrés wanted to create a unique cycle for every rider. So in order to do that, he gradually learnt how to design and build frames, how to carefully pick and install components, and even how to manufacture certain parts.
With this change of direction the world lost a scientist, but we also gained a passionate craftsman. In my book that’s a positive balance.
How bikes ought to be
Andrés has this vision.
Each bike is meant to perform a particular function.
Each one should be created differently, with the single goal of performing such function for its rider to the highest possible level.
Once you can assure that, the bicycle should be as simple as possible. Fancy lugs are definitely not his thing. In fact, his experience is that it takes a lot of effort to hide what you don’t want to be seen.
Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it
This idea resonates with the classic saying from Michelangello: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it”.
Andrés works in a similar way. He removes all unnecessary clutter in order to reach the essential bike he is after.
Anyone who has tried it knows that the fight against untidiness is tough. And perpetual.
You cannot do something very well unless you understand it in depth
Another guiding principle for Andrés is that you cannot do something very well unless you understand it profoundly. I am pretty sure his academic background has a big influence in this, but during out conversation he acknowledged that there are two ways to get there.
One is studying a lot. The orthodox way for an academic.
The other one is purely empirical. Practice a lot. Set hypotheses and test them.
Either way, it is key to not only learn the basics, but to develop you own voice. A proprietary way of looking into problems and solving them with grace.
The conclusion is non-conclusive. It is hard to wrap up work in progress.
Nevertheless, do drop a line in the comments box if you feel like it.
All photographs taken from the Arregui Velazquez Flickr page with permission.