Moth Attack

START: Dean started off by doing retail display, woodworking and painting. However, after her two-week vacation request was denied, she decided to leave, and on a whim to ride her bike from Seattle to San Francisco. After this journey she came home and was bored, so she picked up odd jobs here and there at coffee shops, and such. It wasn’t until she became a bike messenger that she ultimately ended up at the well-known Yamaguchi Frame Building School. Basically her woodworking skills morphed into metalworking ones. However, while her passion is bike building, she does also work part-time for the Los Angeles County Bike Coalition.

SETTING: Four years ago she rented an empty, 1,500 square foot warehouse space, out of which she, together with her boyfriend, carved out four rooms and a loft. Upstairs her boyfriend occupies the space for his mechanic work, while she creates and fabricates the bikes in another loft space located above one of the bedrooms. Among her tools is a Henry James jig, along with various files and snips.

THE ONE TOOL: Files are definitely at the top of the list, with the belt sander coming in second place.

CREATIVE PROCESS: She prefers to do everything by hand including the drawings, as she doesn’t use any computer programs. Most of the design ideas evolve when she’s out riding on the road. Sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night, and other times things just come to her when she’s working on a bike. This occurred on a set of seat stays she was fabricating: the stay just worked its way into a certain shape on the spot. So, for the most part, she tries not to over think things too much and just lets it happen in the moment.

SPECIALTY: Most of all, Dean loves building track bikes. She races on the track, so it’s something she knows very well. Her boyfriend is an elite-level track racer as well, so she readily relies on her in-house 61/2 foot tall tester. However, while track is her passion, she has other bikes in her collection of 12, with exception of a mountain bike.

THE NAME: Moth Attack comes from a massive moth infestation she had in her kitchen that happened when she was away at frame building school. The source was bags of granola, bulk grains and oatmeal stored in her cupboards. As it turns out, moths seem to appear often in the most unlikely places for Dean. On one occasion she stopped at a gas station on her way back from Colorado and found a moth on the gas pump. She says even her grandmother maintained that she would come back as a Miller Moth one day. So it seems that the name for her company is perfect.

Image: Tim Schamber
From Issue 04