The blue dot right in the middle of Texas. Im in Austin Texas. Its 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. Its a spec about 10 or 15 miles north of Mexico. I was born in Nevada.
Whats the riding like there (where you live now)?
Its pretty good. I think the perception of urban riding by people who dont live here is better than they think but we still have a ways to go. Awareness is going. The majority of riding I dowhich is get my bike and head out of town as quick as possibleand there its fantastic. There are countless county roads that are just fantastic. And you can ride year-round, though its quite cold today. Its rare you cant ride, unless its 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. Thats 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 didnt 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 millI 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 youre 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. Thats 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 wasnt even in the bike biz. It was coincidental that it was the same year as NAHBS. I knew thats where I wanted to be, building my own bikes. I really hadnt realized there was a resurgence in custom frame building.
I recall thinking, Its good to see it hasnt 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 impracticaljust that theres 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. Its 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, its all wrapped. Its 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 modulus55ksi modulustubes. 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. Im trying to keep it to locals who can hand-deliver it. I dont want to become a depot for broken bikes. Im a one-man show here.