Not attending the handmade bike show last year?
Too many other framebuilders to choose from (the list of new builders is huge)?
I blame most of it on the first, but I'm sure there were several contributing factors...in the end, who knows?
Like most other bicycle related businesses I usually see a big slow down from fall to early in the year (usually Feb). Typically I get 5 or 6 orders in the winter months and it picks up again in the spring. This winter I took in one order. Add to that several people dropping off the list (most due to loss of employment) and my waiting list has shrunk considerably. I'm a bit of a pessimist and I really don't trust the economy to rebound by this summer. My lease is up in April. The last place I want to be is dead in the water mid summer with no orders and no frames to build while incurring huge debt trying to pay all the bills. With the waiting list at its lowest point ever it seemed like the perfect time to opt out to me.
I'll be finishing the current batch of bikes, refunding the few remaining deposits, and ending Jonny Cycles.
I spent a hard 5 years working on establishing Jonny Cycles. In the end it was working ok and I built quite a few really great bikes that I'm very proud of. Sure I wasn't getting rich off of it and it was stressful, but it was rewarding. Surprisingly I don't feel that bad....its not like my lifelong dream was to become a framebuilder. I never planned on doing this, I just fell into it (if your curious read the articles here: http://jonnycycles.com/about.php).
What am I going to do? I've accepted a job at Cronometro which is a bike shop down the street from where I live. Its a great shop and I'm excited to be working as one of their mechanics. I'm also excited about the prospect of receiving a regular paycheck, health insurance, being much less stressed, and most importantly having some free time.
What about the shop? Ahren & Leah (Banjo Cycles) and Zack (ZR Cycles) are both hanging in there and are going to continue working out of the shop. I'm keeping all my equipment and a little corner in the shop. This will allow me to finish up any loose ends that may occur as well as work on some personal projects I've been wanting to do for awhile.
Am I going to start up again in the future? Never say never....but don't hold your breath or your deposits. Maybe when I retire to the north-woods homestead I've always fantasized about.....
If you're interested, stay tuned to the blog and my flickr site. I still have some great bikes being finished up and I have some fun personal projects planned which I'll continue to document.
If anyone needs to contact me for whatever reason I'll be keeping some version of the website up, maintaining my e-mail, and keeping the same phone number.