The dream of building handmade bicycles was a succession of coincidences, beginning with the restoration of vintage Italian racing bikes which initially grew his fledgling obsession. Frame building courses in Japan at the time had extremely long waiting lists spanning many years, but undeterred Vlad continued to research and educate himself about techniques and materials, immersing himself in the craft. On visiting a local workshop Vlad met Ohtaki Masami, a passionate and respected NJS certified frame builder. Hesitantly asking if he would teach him his craft, Ohtaki-san unexpectedly agreed and without hesitation explained which tools Vlad would need to begin his education. He’d stand for hours, just watching how his teacher moved, observing the calm beauty in the detailed way he used his tools.
They built complete frames together before it was time for Vlad to work on his own, but unable to afford all of the tools in the beginning he was restricted to practicing his technique, brazing steel tubes together through hours of repetition, gradually building confidence in the art before finally creating his first frames. Initially cutting all of the tubes by hand which gave him a more direct connection to the type of steel he was working with, a valuable insight early on into the idiosyncrasies of the material.
A committed cyclist himself, when he began his own workshop, Vlad naturally understood that the only real opinion that mattered was that of the rider. It was through this process that his own personal style of frame building emerged, a balance of many factors to produce the perfect riding experience – a balance referenced in the name ‘Equilibrium’ and the interlocking E’s in the head tube badge. The long process of perfecting his art and putting in the hours has seen a constant development and growth, partly down to Vlad’s own character, constantly evolving, questioning and improving on what he’s done previously, never wanting to repeat himself.
In 2018 he put orders on hold for months while he mastered the fine art of TIG welding, a natural progression into a more specialised form of bicycle construction. His professional drive for perfection is relentless, a quality seen in each frame he produces, a continuing push for the next step has now led toward building titanium frames, the ultimate material for bikes.
“The ride quality is really amazing, and there’s so many advantages to this material that makes sense for a cyclist. The power transfer is so efficient. You push the pedal and the bike simply goes. It works with you; every single effort is rewarded. So smooth in absorbing vibrations, it’s as if you’re levitating above the road. And throughout my career, what I’ve always aimed to deliver is a sublime ride experience”.
The journey for Vlad is one of continuous discovery, never building exactly the same bike twice, each is unique in their own way and each with its own learning experience for the builder and a story waiting to be explored by the rider.