Where are you based?
Winter Bicycles is located in Eugene, Oregon. I live a few miles away in Springfield.
Is that where you grew up?
I grew up in the lakes region of New Hampshire. I moved out to Portland, Oregon for college and bounced around the West with my wife. Weve lived in Portland, up in Seattle and out in Salt Lake for a few years. About five years ago we were looking for a change, and a confluence of work, family and missing the green brought us back to Oregon.
Whats the riding like there (where you live now)?
There is some great riding in and around Eugene. You can get out of town and into more rural and varied road riding pretty quickly. We have easy access to good mountain biking, and with a little travel time there are two tracks relatively nearby. Eugene and Springfield are bike friendly communities. This is a great area to be an urban and utility cyclist. There are several well utilized multi-use paths. Both cities include bike and pedestrian use in their planning, and there is an ongoing commitment to improve cycle lanes.
How long have you been building?
I have been building as a full time professional for a little over four years; at first as part of a larger company and for the last several years as Winter Bicycles.
How did you get your start?
Ive always been a cyclist. Through (and after) college it was my main mode of transportation. I didnt own a car until I married into one. Ive worked with bikes, the cycling industry, shops and as an advocate. I also have a metal sculpture background. I had thought about combining those skills for some time, and I officially started frame building by enrolling in a United Bicycle Institute frame building class with Ron and Gary down in Ashland. I knew I wanted to build frames, and that class seemed like the most no-nonsense primer to see if the reality lined up with my wishful thinking.
About 15 minutes into that first class I was hooked. Finishing that class coincided with our decision to leave Utah, and through a happy string of events I was on the production line at Bike Friday brazing full time.
Have you held other positions in the industry?
Ive worked in several roles both in the cycling community and the bicycle industry. In college, I started working as a bicycle advocate to help bring more people and bicycles together as the head of the bicycle co-op on campus. I have led both road and off-road tours for children and adults as an outdoor experiential educator. As a board member of the Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective I worked to promote safe, community minded sport and commuter cycling.
I have worked in fitting, retail and rental sales, as a mechanic and in service management. As a frame builder, I have also built prototypes and contract work in addition to my core focus on custom Winter offerings. Currently, I also work as volunteer vice-president of the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Association (http://oregonframebuilders.org) , a non-profit trade association that supports and promotes the Oregon frame builder. Non- builders are probably most familiar with our yearly fundraiser and public outing, the Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show oregonhandmadebicycleshow.com
(If you started by working for someone else) When did you strike out on your own?
I started working on Bike Fridays custom line. After about a year with them, I started Winter as side business, and about a year later transitioned into Winter full time.
Do you have an assistant? If so, who is he?
I dont have an assistant. I do all of the fitting and design work, day to day business and all of the metal work. I work with a local outfit for my chrome, and work with two talented painters. My wife does the books.
Who does your paint?
Most of my full custom builds are painted by Keith Anderson (http://keithandersoncycles.com). Ive also recently started working with a former Co Motion painter, Eric Dungey, for some of the individual parts (stems and forks) and other projects (http://www.colorworksbikepainting.com).
Do you ever work in a material other than steel?
At the moment, I work exclusively with steel, including stainless steel. The tubing manufacturers offer an incredibly deep range of steel shapes, sizes, alloys and butte profiles with which I design and tune my bikes. Steel also allows me to work in several different joinery techniques based to the bike. Thats not to say I may not add materials in the future, but I am very happy with my material range currently.
Who makes the tubing and lugs you like to use?
Every bike I make is built to order and made to measure. I pick the materials for each project based on the design and use needs. Most bikes are a mix of manufacturers and tube sets. I like to think of it as a builders select set. I regularly mix tubes from True Temper, Columbus, Reynolds and Dedacciai, and have recently added KVA stainless to the list.
What sort of cutting and shaping of lugs do you like to perform? Does it vary from bike to bike or are there stylistic elements people can find running through all your bikes?
I build in three main types of joinery-fillet brazing (bronze welding), traditional lugs, and in my own hand cut bilaminate construction (a sort of fillet/ lug hybrid). Ideally I prefer to design the bike to meet the customers fit and functional needs first, and then choose the construction method to suit. Realistically, I have quite a bit of flexibility with all three and can frequently accommodate based on aesthetic tastes.
I specialize in clean and smooth from the torch raw fillets. This smooth metal work is further refined and polished into expertly shaped tube transitions. Fully fillet brazed frames offer a clean, uncluttered look, and the ability to join non-traditional tube combinations in any necessary design.
I also offer hand cut as well as fully custom (made from scratch) lugs. My lug work usually tends towards smoothly flowing shorelines and thinly pointed and tapered points. I appreciate subtle detail and try to give them a gestural feel. I like long points and thin skirts. In addition to reworking and shaping commercially cast lugs, I also can produce custom one off lugs as the design dictates.
A large number of the bikes I do are with my signature bilaminate construction. These are made with a hand cut seat tube sleeve and hallmark head tube lug. In addition to full design freedom, the bilaminate construction also allows for carved visual and aesthetic personalization. It has become a sort of calling card.
I like all of my bikes to be sleek and purpose driven. After the functional elements are worked out I like to work with a conservation of mark- bold color, sweeping curves and long, almost Gothic points. I want the visual elements to be cohesive as a whole, to feel intentional and not gaudy or cluttered.
There is a lot of room for client preference, of course, but I like to think there is a Winter style. Its enough work to make a nice plain bike, I might as well go full bore and make it visually enticing as well.
Tell us about the jig you use.
I have built on Arctos and Henry James jigs, as well as jigs made for Burley and Bike Friday. Ive also built (and recommend to new folks) off of a surface plate. The first Winter jig was one I made based on Rody Walters (Groove Cycleworks). Currently I am working on a Sputnik built by Jeff Buchholz.
Winter bicycles are still predominantly made by hand. I do my main tube mitering on a mill-drill, but the bulk of the metal pushing is done with hand tools.