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Framebuilder Bruce Gordon dies

Published June 7, 2019

PETALUMA, Calif. (BRAIN) — Framebuilder, innovator and industry gadfly Bruce Gordon was found dead Friday morning at his home in Petaluma, according to friends.

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Gordon was part of a tight circle of builders who met in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s. Gordon had moved there after dropping out of art school in Chicago, and learned to build frames from Albert Eisentraut in Oakland. He later invested in Eisentraut's business, and worked there with Mark Nobilette, now a well-known builder based in Colorado and who remained a friend through many decades.

Gordon attended the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in March in Sacramento. He visited France later in the spring, according to his blog.

To many, Gordon will be remembered for his humor and his finely made frames, racks, panniers and other gear. Many also remember him as the co-leader of the Society of People Who Actually Make Their Own Sh*t (SOPWAMTOS), which held a parade and gave out awards at the Interbike shows in the mid-1990s. Gordon ran SOPWAMTOS with Mark Norstad of Paragon Machine Works as the Self-Appointed Benevolent Co-Dictators for Life.

Gordon retired from framebuilding several years ago. He also attempted to sell his business for several years, and in 2017 supporters founded a crowdfunding campaign to buy his business, which included a retail store in Petaluma.

In recent years Gordon had been selling off remaining parts and other inventory, including the Rock 'n Road tires he developed and had made by Panaracer in Japan. The tires were some of the first 700c mountain bike tires, before 29-inch wheels became popular. The high-volume lightweight on/off road tires were used for offroad touring and gravel riding before either activity was identified as an industry trend.

Gordon (center in fez) in the 1996 SOPWAMTOS parade at Interbike.

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