Freeman Cebu Sports

History of bicycle frame building in Cebu City

ALLEZ - JV Araneta - The Freeman

(This is part two and the last part Sammy Sy’s essay about bicycle framebuilding here in Cebu. If you missed the first part, you can search it on the Freeman archive.)

He was an avid supporter of local cycling races.  Every Saturday afternoons or holidays, he would organize circuit races called “Bente-bente” winner take-all at the North Reclamation Area (Present day SM City mega block) location which is of great help in keeping local pedal pushers be in tiptop condition.  These races are attended by big names in the likes of Rolando “Boyax” Pagnanawon, Teodorico “Dondon” Romales Jr., Gregorio Gabato, Joseph Rex Gonzales, Ronald Navarro, Ricardo Ermitanio and many other road race veterans.

By this period, ASP is a full service bikeshop.  The services it offered includes frame sizing, bike fitting/positioning, custom frame orders, frame repairs and re-sizing, spray painting (acrylic or polyurethane), airbrush painting and designs, bike unit assembly, repairs and overhauls.  Around April of 1995, Jun’s younger brother Quito requested him to manage his Restaurant business in Madrid, Spain.  Jun had second thoughts at closing ASP so he asked his good friend Sammy Sy (Bikemann) to help him overseer ASP’s operations during his absence.  To his surprise, The Bikemann even offered his services “Pro Bono”.  From the period May 1995 to late 1999, ASP frames were further upgraded quality wise because of wider access to better tubing brands like the Tange Champion No. 1, Tange Infinity OS, Tange Prestige (surface hardened), Prestige Superlite (heat surface treated), Columbus Gara, Cromor, SL/SLX/TSX (Cyclex).  Producing a minimum of two framesets per week exclusive of frame repairs, frame conversions or upgrades, and serving clients from Hilongos, Bato, Ormoc, Tacloban, Bacolod, Dumaguete, San Carlos, Iloilo, Tagbilaran, Dipolog, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Davao and Cebu Province.

Jun’s concept of frame sizing and proper fitting and positioning was effectively carried out by the Bikemann and himself contributes to a few added refinements to this art.  Back then, ASP would assist any rider who would request assistance in areas related to issues of sizing and positioning free of any consultation fees, all done in the spirit of public service and extreme passion for cycling.

By the year 2000, Taiwanese MOB Aluminum framesets found it’s way to Cebu bike dealers via Manila wholesalers.  These glossy powder coated frames were a preference among the locals because of it’s incredible low cost.  It is a little more than 50 percent cheaper than an ASP standard Tange No. 1 custom built frameset.  There were some other unknown generic aluminum frames that also came in, the origin of which is perhaps from China.  These frames were not made for quality but for plain and simple “low costing and quick profits scheme”.  These developments adversely affected the operations at ASP, thereby drastically reducing sales of custom order framesets until it reached to the point wherein sales figures couldn’t anymore sustain store operations.  After more than 15 years of frame building services to the local cycling community and with a heavy heart, ASP closed shop on the 7th of October year 2000.

There also were some wanna be pretenders in the art of frame building in Metro Cebu.  One guy was from Lapu-lapu City and the other one was accordingly from Pardo, Cebu.  However, as per fair assessment of the Bikemann, these craftsmen have average skills in brazing but lacking in theoretical knowhow in areas relating to frame geometry, alignment and design refinements thus producing frames of below par quality.

At present, steel frame building is still active in Tabunok, Cebu with the continuance of the trade by the defunct ASP’s protégé frame builder “Camilo”.  Now at age 57 and still brazing for clients of the cycling community.  But the question is, how long will he keep his torch burning and who will succeed him to serve our brazing requirements in the next few years?  Do we have an “Ace” in the making…?

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