A great podcast interview with Albert Eisentraut by Diane Lees on the “Outspoken Cyclist” Sept. 2014 HERE
Albert Eisentraut acquired an appreciation of hand built bicycles at the elbow of legendary Paramount maker Oscar Wastyn in Chicago, and Albert, in many ways, is the dean of modern (post Korean War) USA custom frame builders. His frames, especially the famous “Model A” frames of the 1960s and 70s, had a special sculptural aesthetic and unorthodoxy in their shaping. This set Eisentraut bicycles apart from the European mimicry that influenced other builders at that time. Albert Eisentraut grew up with cycling in his blood.
Following in his father’s footsteps, he began racing in 1955 on the Kenosha Velodrome. He gained an appreciation of hand built bicycles working as a mechanic in the shop of legendary Schwinn Paramount maker Oscar Wastyn in Chicago. According to Albert, Wastyn didn’t teach him the craft, “More than anything, I learned from Oscar that one person could make a bicycle by himself.”
Albert built his first frame in 1959 in his father’s basement aided only by a frame jig that he machined himself. In 1969 he became a full-time frame builder, working for Velo-Sport in Berkeley, CA.
Branching out on his own in 1971, his clients include world class racers George Mount, John Howard, Mike Neel, Tom Prehn, Tom Schuler, Connie Carpenter, Miji Reoch, and Sheila Young.
Albert has also taught dozens his craft; his notable students include Bruce Gordon, Joe Breeze, Skip Hujsak, Mark Nobilette, and Bill Stevenson – making Eisentraut the American godfather of modern day frame building. Albert commented, “The only constant in my life is the forever changing bicycle business.”
His sons also worked in the shop, “if the frame has the Eisentraut name on it, an Eisentraut had his hands on it”. The business is now closed, with reports of a rare frame being made for insiders, but no public offering…
Special thanks to Brian Ignatin
Brian Ignatin's 1973 track bike
Custom made for Bill Best for use in the 1973 Detroit & Los Angeles Six-Day races, the last such professional races held in the United States. Belgians Ed Demets and Willy De Bosscher won in Detroit; Australian Graeme Gilmore and West German Klaus Bugdahl won in Los Angeles.