Where are you based?
Bozeman “The Last Best Place” in Big Sky country, Montana.
Is that where you grew up?
I grew up in Seattle which I loved but moved to Bozeman in ‘89’ to attend Montana State University. I really learned to like the small town pace of life and the mountains and so far have never left.
What’s the riding like there (where you live now)?
The road riding is pretty good, it’s limited but there are some great rides especially if you like riding dirt roads, which I do. MTB riding is world class but currently we’ve lost some of our best high alpine trails to closures and at risk of losing more. I
How long have you been building?
I’ve been building “stuff” all my life. I’ve been building frames for the last 18 years.
How did you get your start?
I’m not sure I really know. I’ve been riding and racing bikes as long as I can remember. I’ve also been a mechanic and maker of things as long as I can remember. I think over the years I became better and more competent and I naturally strived to do more. I was lucky enough to have great shop classes from Jr. High through high school and by the time I graduated high school I had learned the fundamentals of fabrication. Making frames for me was a natural application of my aptitude and skill-set and it grew from there.
Is building your day job? If not, what else do you do?
Yes, Strong Frames is the sole source of income for both Loretta (my wife) and me. Despite what some people think, you can earn a living building frames and it can be a very fulfilling profession.
Have you held other positions in the industry?
Not really, I had a bike shop for a few years but I didn’t enjoy the retail work or the hours.
Do you ever work in a material other than steel?
I’m best known for TIG steel and titanium, it’s important to me that I’m not limited to a single material. I want to have the flexibility to provide my customers with the material that will best suit their needs. I’ve always been very aggressive about exploring new material be it XCr/953 stainless, Scandium or carbon. I build about 40% steel, 50% titanium and the balance is carbon.
After three years of development I started offering tube to tube custom carbon frames last fall. I love to learn new material and explore the way it integrates into the ride experience. Initially I got some criticism for building with carbon. The complaint was that it wasn’t what I was about and that I was chasing the market. Personally I think exploring a new material is exactly what I’m about. I don’t ever expect the carbon to make up much more than 10-20% of my total output. I don’t chase markets, I just love building frames and I want to know everything I can about all the common materials being used for frames. That’s what keeps it fresh and exciting for me every day I come to work.
Who makes the tubing and lugs you like to use?
I work with tubing from all makers. I prefer to choose tubes based on the customers design and cherry pick each individual tube for every frame I build.