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Freeman Cebu Sports

History of bicycle frame building in Cebu City

ALLEZ - JV Araneta - The Freeman

Today, I have a guest writer in the person of Sammy Sy. Sammy is a human encyclopedia when it comes to retro bikes. Two years ago, I asked him if he could tell us the story about the history of frame building here in Cebu. However, I couldn’t find the right timing of the story and honestly, I forgot about it. But three days ago, that time came Vicente “Jun” Farrarons, the owner and proprietor of the now defunct ASP Cyclehaus, passed away. It was in Farrarons’s shop that fabricated the best custom steel frames south of Manila back in the days when carbon and aluminum were considered exotic materials. Many dreams were born in that shop, including mine, and brought a smile to thousands of ordinary folks dreaming of becoming the next Greg Lemond. This is a tribute to Farraron’s and the people behind that shop of dreams. (First of two parts)

The 1st bicycle frame builder of Cebu dates back in the early 1970’s with the founding of ATCO Enterprises which was owned by Fil-Chinese businessman Jerry Ang.  This small company with around two welders at that time produced 28 inch steel utility bicycle frames, 26 inch cruisers and 20 inch easy rider frames.  The frames they produce carry the brand “Eastern” and are built of quality materials imported from Japan.  By the mid 1970’s they diversified frame production by venturing into road racing frames.  These frames are handcrafted and are constructed of good quality Japanese tubing brands like the Strong Hi Tensile, Ishiwata 019 and 017 CrMo tubings.  ATCO made good quality racing frames at this era and it can be comparable to popular Manila made brands like Patria, Booster and Sonnet road frames.  However, these frames were not mass produced and can only be acquired thru order basis and a few pieces were mitered for store inventory, display and direct sales.  This firm remained in the industry until around the late 1980’s.

In February of 1985, a new player in this field of specialty started initial operations.  The ASP Cyclehaus or  “Artemio S. Pascual” Cyclehaus with shop location at the former Citi Center Commercial Complex at Junquera St., Cebu City was actually owned and managed by Vicente “Jun” Farrarons, a Fil-Spanish national.  The 1st few production frames were made possible through the help of his elder brother Chiqui and sister Mayen who managed the EBQ Cycleshop at BF Homes Paranaque.  They loaned to Jun the services of their seasoned frame builder “Mang Rey”.  Building frames minus the aid of “Jigs” and alignment tools, Mang Rey relies on his incredible eyesight and angle protractor to check on frame alignment and zero in on top and seat tube angles before fully brazing any joint.  He was a jolly fellow and had this uncanny habit of intoxicating himself with anything alcoholic while working on the frames as this will, according to him, speed-up and refine the frames he builds.  I’ve also heard some unverified stories that Ace frame builder Ave Maldea during his youth days was a protégé of Mang Rey.  He stayed with ASP only for a few weeks as he was scheduled to return to EBQ as frame orders were piling up.  By this time, Jun was training a new welder named “Sakay”. The guy made a few hi-tensile frames but things didn’t work out well so he only had a very short stint at ASP.  Without a legitimate welder, ASP accepted made to order frames but it had to be forwarded to Mang Rey channeled thru EBQ and waiting time would be around one month maximum depending on the volume of bookings EBQ had. 

Finally by late 1980’s a new welder signed-in.  His name was “Camilo Labandero”, a good metal craftsman, legit welder and Ex-OFW pipe fitter veteran from Saudi Arabia.  Jun and Camilo collaborated in designing an improvised “jig” to ensure precision alignment of the frame or fork before fully brazing it during production.  Jun was the 1st to apply the concept of exact bike frame sizing and proper bike fitting/positioning which is critical for the optimal performance of a rider in direct relation to pedaling efficiency and maximized comfort during extended rides whether it be leisure or competition. (To be continued next week)

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