Road to NAHBS 2014: Kish Moves Titanium Frame Fabrication to North Carolina
Builder Jim Kish is no stranger to fabulous titanium welds. He’s won awards at NAHBS in the past, and he’s brought some rather interesting accoutrements -titanium mason jar cage, anyone- to embellish the bikes. Bikes like a full titanium BMX race rig. This year, it sounds like things might be a bit more normal but no less beautiful. We can’t wait to see what’s hiding in the details…
BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?
KISH: Titanium. We do a few steel bikes each year, but that’s a rarity.
BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?
KISH: The biggest shift for us has probably been redesigning our cyclocross and touring bikes for disc brakes. A lot of our cross bikes have always been a little more robust, what people are calling ‘gravel grinders’ now, so discs are a great fit. The back ends have been redone with stouter s-bend stays, and the head tubes accommodate tapered disc forks.
BIKERUMOR: Any killer custom bike builds in that time?
KISH: More 650B mountain bikes, and all sorts of cross bikes, disc and canti.
BIKERUMOR: Say a customer gives you free reign, where do you draw your inspiration for the best projects?
KISH: The best bikes we build are the ones where our customers leave it up to us to make the bulk of the decisions on design and components, and allow us to put together a super reliable, really fun bike. My inspiration comes from being able to hop on the bike and go, whenever you want, without needing to putz around with maintenance.
BIKERUMOR: What are you building this year that’ll draw a crowd?
KISH: We’re bringing a little of everything. Road, mountain, cross and city. I’m hoping that a pile of nice titanium bikes will be enough to pull in the visitors, as well as the North Carolinians who haven’t figured out that we moved here yet.
BIKERUMOR: Scenario: NAHBS introduces a new category called Mashups, pairing two completely different builders to make one bike. Who’s the yin to your yang, and what kind of bike do you think you’d build?
KISH: Our bikes tend to be driven by function, rather than a lot of overt, fancy stuff. In a conversation, Dale Brown described them as ‘Bauhaus’ which may be accurate, I’m not smart enough to know.
I do appreciate the fancy, though, and in my opinion the best practitioner of the curvy tube, cool paint aesthetic is Curtis Inglis (Retrotec). He was doing all that sort of thing years before anyone else rediscovered the old cruiser styles, and he does it way better than anyone else. We have already worked together on titanium versions of his bikes, it’d be fun to do some more someday.