Where are you based?
The blue dot right in the middle of Texas. I’m in Austin Texas. It’s an interesting place because it is a blue dot in the middle of a big red sea.
Is that where you grew up?
I actually grew up in Houston, kinda all over Texas. I spent my early years in the Rio Grande Valley in a town called Pharr. It’s a spec about 10 or 15 miles north of Mexico. I was born in Nevada.
What’s the riding like there (where you live now)?
It’s pretty good. I think the perception of urban riding by people who don’t live here is better than they think but we still have a ways to go. Awareness is going. The majority of riding I do—which is get my bike and head out of town as quick as possible—and there it’s fantastic. There are countless county roads that are just fantastic. And you can ride year-round, though it’s quite cold today. It’s rare you can’t ride, unless it’s super-hot but then just get out early enough and you can get your riding in.
How long have you been building?
I started in ’95 or ’96. I built my first rideable steel frame in ’95 or ’96. Doin’ that thing in the garage.
How did you get your start?
At one point I lived in Eugene Oregon. I was working for a company there. I headed that way in ’94. People comment about Portland being a bicycle frame building mecca. That’s true for all of Oregon. Eugene is a place I found on my own in looking for a bike company to work for. That place happened to be Bike Friday. I bailed quite quickly. I didn’t get everything I needed in terms of an education in frame building. I never built a whole frame before I left. They had all the tools and I did learn how to use a lathe, a mill—I even powder coated frames. After coming back to Texas and working on my own in my garage was when I really learned how to build a frame.
Have you held other positions in the industry?
Bike shops. Basically mechanic and everything else. When you’re in small shops you have to do everything. One was a triathlon shop that did a lot of high-end stuff, much of it mail-order. I worked with a guy who was a great wheel builder. That’s where it started.
When did you strike out on your own?
The December before the first NAHBS (North American Handmade Bicycle Show) in Houston - December of 2004. I left a job that wasn’t even in the bike biz. It was coincidental that it was the same year as NAHBS. I knew that’s where I wanted to be, building my own bikes. I really hadn’t realized there was a resurgence in custom frame building.
I recall thinking, ‘It’s good to see it hasn’t gone away.’
You're known for working exclusively in carbon fiber. Why did you select that material?
All along I knew I wanted to build bikes. It was around 2000 that I thought building steel frames was impractical—just that there’s no way to make a go of this. Carbon fiber is the future, I thought. I figured if I could do one-off custom carbon fiber frames it was the way to go.
Looking at how many steel builders have come into the market, I was both right and wrong. I was wrong about a market that I thought was dying. I was right about carbon; I wanted to do custom frames.
Have you ever worked with other materials?
I got about 35 steel frames under my belt. Most of them are fillet brazed. It’s a nice mix of road, track and 26-inch-wheel mountain bikes. Those were all done in those hobby years before 2004.
Who makes the tubing and lugs you like to use?
The majority of the tubing comes from ENVE, formerly Edge Composites. There are some Dedacciai tubes I use as well. There are no lugs, it’s all wrapped. It’s creating that joint by co-molding that joint once the tubes are tacked.
What sort of material do you work with?
They are almost exclusively intermediate modulus. The stuff that I use has a modulus of 42-44ksi. Quite a few years ago I built two frames with the main tubes being high modulus—55ksi modulus—tubes. The tubes were thin; they were light. On the first frame, they broke in processing. The first broke before I could make it into a finished frame. The second bike shattered like glass when I dropped something on the top tube. I finished the frame, but one tap to the top tube and it was gone. I was able to break the main triangle with my bare hands after that first tube went.
My point is not to knock that kind of carbon, but to point out that a lot of the guys who say they are using high modulus carbon are most likely working with something more like intermediate modulus carbon.
Are you doing repairs?
I get several e-mails a day asking about repairs. I really keep coming and going on that. I’m trying to keep it to locals who can hand-deliver it. I don’t want to become a depot for broken bikes. I’m a one-man show here.