A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit a lovely nest of the small domestic bike industry in Northern California. My first builder to visit was Curtis Inglis, winner of this year’s Best Mountain Bike award at NAHBS with his tangerine fat bike. Raised in a family of roadies, Curtis fell in love with mountain biking later in life after getting out of the Air Force. Within a year of his first ride, he found himself as the new builder for Retrotec, a then fledgling bike brand out of Chico, after its first builder had left. A few years later, Curtis would shacked up with his friends the SyCip brothers in San Francisco. Whereas Curtis had been mostly self-taught, Jeremy SyCip was armed with formal building education and years of apprenticeship. It was there that Curtis honed his skills as a builder, learned how to build in straight tubes (initially a challenge) to establish his Inglis brand, and took control of Retrotec.
Twenty-four years on, Curtis has found a good rhythm in his one-man shop in Napa, at the heart of his which is his tube rolling machine, the vehicle by which he creates all of his obsessively curved, cruiser-style Retrotec frames. READ MORE ->