TSC: Without the rise of Cyclocross in the US (and globally) would you still be making bikes?
RS: Hmm. I went to my first cx race in 1972 and saw many events when I lived in London. I was at the 1973 UCI World Championships in Crystal Palace when EDV won his seventh rainbow jersey. I started making ‘cross bicycles in 1976. The team I sponsor, while a cx centric squad since the middle 1990s, began as all road. We chose to veer over to the autumn schedule and leave pavement behind during Y2K. Nearly all my business, before, during, and since, has been road. People know the RSCX thing because our riders leave a legacy. But my actual commercial life doesn’t focus on cyclocross. The discipline happens to be where I support a sport that’s close to my heart - bicycle racing.
So yeah - that I make bicycles for a living is separate from the Richard Sachs Cyclocross Team, as well as from what happens when the cx discipline flows and ebbs.
TSC: I was drawn to a quote from a magazine clipping you posted on your Instagram where you said “[when] my time is up, there is a big chance bicycles will be very different than what I am doing now”. In a way that is true–both for your own frames and for the industry at large. And yet here you are, still in the game. Where do you stand on that now? Has discipline won out over trend?
RS: I exist outside the boundaries that define the bicycle industry. I loathe the term but I’ll use it to make a point: I’m a craftsman. Making a bicycle is different from manufacturing them. I do the former, the industry does the latter. I don’t care what they do. I’d imagine they feel similarly about my corner of the trade.
In Downton Abbey, the Earl of Grantham says to his heir, “We all have different parts to play, Matthew, and we should all be allowed to play them.” I feel similarly when I stand at the bench. The world has a metric shit ton of sameness. Four corporations making the majority of bicycles, each coming from one of seven different waffle irons depending on size and use. My part is to make my bicycles not theirs.
There’s another quote from popular culture I want to paste in: “I am big. It’s the pictures that got small.” It’s pulled from Sunset Boulevard. I first heard it in my early twenties. It stuck. Things change. New happens. We all have a sell-by date. And yet here I am, still in the game.
TSC: Is there ever going to be the perfect…?
RS: The line exists, To lure us. To tease us. The days keep coming and the line is never close enough to cross. You see it. Sometimes it’s right there. But you’re always going to be on the same side of it as you are today. The line is always there. And you’re never ever going to cross it.