Here is a rare and unique frame that was tucked away somewhere in the far reaches of my memory bank, the hard drive of my mind, if you will. It recently came to the forefront when I discovered these old photos.
No, there is nothing wrong with your eyes, and those wheels are standard 27”. (700c) It is just a very large frame. I can’t remember exactly what size it is, but it was built for seven foot basket ball player Bill Walton.
It was the end of 1980 and I had just arrived at Ted Kirkbride’s frameshop in San Marcos, CA to build the Masi frames. Ted had just got this order for a custom built bike for the San Diego Clippers star player.
The frame was a joint effort, I did the main brazing, then handed it over to Ted Kirkbride to finish. The frame was painted by Masi’s painter Jim Allen. Bill Walton did not want any maker’s name on the frame, but instead had a custom “Grateful Dead” decoration painted directly on the head tube.
Bill Walton was, and still is an ardent “Dead Head.” San Diego artist Dan Thoner did the hand painting on the frame.
So what kind of frame is Bill Walton’s? It is a Ted Kirkbride as he took the order, designed the frame, did much of the work and sold the frame. However, as Ted never put a frame out with his own name on it, (As far as I know.) The nameless frame arrangement suited both buyer and seller on this occasion.
I don’t lay claim to the frame, but only write about it here because it is a part of my history, and probably the biggest frame I ever worked on.
Ted Kirkbride owned the frameshop were the Masi frames were produced in the early 1980s. He later bought the company. Most of the frames he built were custom and special order Masi frames.
I wonder if Bill Walton still has this bike, and if so does he still ride it? I would imagine the demand for used bikes to fit a seven-foot bike rider would be pretty small.
Footnote: Dan Thoner who did the fine art work on this frame is the same artist who later did the design work for my Fuso logo; working from rough sketches of my idea.