Brian has been involved at The Bicycle Academy since the very beginning, from when it was still just an idea in my head. I approached Brian in December 2010 to ask him if he’d like to be a part of a framebuilding project that I’d come up with – to teach framebuilding skills to people by making bikes that we would give away to people in need. Brian agreed as he was keen to pass on his skills, especially his fillet brazing technique, and because he liked the idea of helping those in need too. From the beginning Brian was kind enough to commit to not only helping me get set up but also to help me to get into a position where I could carry on without him. Well that time has come, 3 years on Brian has achieved everything he set out to and is hanging up his goggles at The Bicycle Academy.
It’s no exaggeration to say that The Bicycle Academy probably wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Brian’s involvement. From teaching me all the very basics through to helping to choose equipment, plan the workshops, develop the courses – he’s been a part of everything.
But very early on after we opened, Brian realised that the act of teaching was going to affect his brazing. Teaching a skill requires the ability to break it down and analyse every aspect but like many people who excel at a physical skill, he does what he does without really thinking about it, when he’s brazing he’s in that state of flow that we all strive for.
“For me, Brazing is such an automatic thing that when I have to think about it I can’t do it as well. I just love brazing and have missed doing what I love the way I’m used to doing it.”
So, for the past year, Brian’s focussed on training up Sam and later Paul and also helping to teach some of the students once they’d reached a certain skill level. This meant that he could help them to refine their technique, rather than teach from scratch and strike a better balance with his own projects.
“Since the beginning I’ve taught Andrew, Sam and Paul to fillet braze like me and am MORE than happy with the results. Andrew has been teaching my fillet brazing method for over a year and I’m really happy that he’ll continue to pass on my technique through The Bicycle Academy, that was one of the main reasons I got involved in the first place!”
Brian’s going to be spending his time concentrating on being a Granddad, continuing to braze up the frames for Curtis Bikes and he’s also going to be working to re-launch some of the original “Brian Curtis” BMX bikes and cruisers from the 80′s. All of which is very exciting.
“Although I’ve stopped working at The Bicycle Academy I’ll always see myself as a part of it and hope that we’ll continue to help each other out as we have done over these past 3 years. As far as I see it if you want a nice fillet brazed bicycle you should come to Curtis Bikes but if you want to learn to build frames or braze come to The Bicycle Academy !”
He’s been great fun to have around, even if it took me a while to figure out when he was winding me up – we’ve had a brilliant time, achieved loads together and I wouldn’t change any of it. We’re all going to miss him but he’s left his favourite mug here so we know that he’ll be back for a coffee and to show us his latest weird and wonderful brazed inventions.
Thanks for everything Brian!