When fitting a customer for a bike, how do you usually work? How often is it in person?
I rely a lot on each customer’s experience. Most people who come to me have spent a lot of time on their bikes and either know what they want or know that they need their existing position to change this way or that. I take what has worked and what hasn’t and distill it into my design. The process is very collaborative and has been very successful. I like this approach much more than opening up the can of worms that a fit bike can present or overly relying on mathematical/formulaic approaches. I work with very few people in person. There is usually a volley of email between me and the customer until we come to a final design. Occasionally a customer will hire a third-party bike fitter, but this is the exception.
Who does your paint?
I work with both Coat and Keith Anderson.
Lets talk about geometry: Would you say your all your bikes have a consistent ride that is your signature, or do you vary your geometry based on the customers preferences and needs?
I aim to build a bike that suits my customer’s preferences. I build lots of different kinds of bikes: mountain, road, touring, randonneuring, transportation and cross. First there is fit and weight distribution, then there is steering geometry. I suppose I tend towards bikes that are comfortable for long distances, but it really comes down to the customer.
When designing a frame for a customer, once you know the ride characteristics the rider is looking for, do you conceive of the geometry as a whole or is there a particular dimension you look to as a starting point?
A rider has three points of contact with the bicycle: the saddle, handlebars and pedals. Once you know the relationship between those three you build the bicycle from there.
Bottom line: What are your bikes supposed to ride like?
I tend to favor comfort over anything else. My bikes tend to be more flexible than many. For instance, I typically use skinny 14mm seat stays on my road bikes. I think the bike is more comfortable that way. Bikes don’t need to be overly stiff, that just beats you up and makes cornering scary. They need to be just stiff enough to climb well and flexible enough to be forgiving in turns. I like to descend as fast as possible, so that is always important to me.
How long is the wait for new customers?
About 12 months
Whats your pricing like?
My base frame price is $2400. Lugged forks are $300. This includes a single color paint job and basic braze-ons (two bottle bosses, shifters and brake cables). Other items are prices a la carte (additional braze-ons, internal cable routing, light, fender and rack mounts). I also build custom stems starting at $250. All pricing is found on my web site. I prefer to build my frames into complete bikes and offer components, accessories and wheel building services as well. I’m happy to prepare a detailed quote for anyone interested. I ask for a $500 deposit to get on the wait list.
What keeps the work fresh for you, gets you up in the morning (or out in the evening) and excited to build?
I like trying new things and look for inspiration outside of the bike world. I just built an electric-assist bike that is sort of a throw back to a board-track racing motorcycle. That was a lot of fun and is a blast to ride. I’m also learning how to TIG weld, which is a fun new challenge. When it comes to bike building I’m always trying to make each bike better than the one before it. There is always room for refinement and that keeps it interesting. I love the craft aspect of what I do and think that elevating the art is very important. At the end of the day that’s why people are coming to me for their bikes and I want them to be delighted by what I deliver.
Whats your life away from building like? What sort of outside interests do you have?
Right now it’s bikes and the baby. Our son was born a year ago and life pretty much revolves around taking care of him and working. It’s absolutely the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. We still manage to do most of the things we love: cooking, enjoying the amazing food, beer and coffee of Portland, and riding bikes, just in smaller doses.