Posts in the category Interviews

Interview: Jeff Tiedeken of Monkey Likes Shiny

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Jeff Tiedeken is a member of a small, elite class of hired gun, high concept developers and fabricators within our industry, a group many people don’t even know exists. They hang out on the fringes like mad scientists, their whole purpose to live outside the industry box, think up cool stuff, and make that cool stuff happen. You’ve seen Jeff’s work without even knowing it. Maybe you’ve ridden it. Maybe you’re in love with some of it. But you’ll never know.

Jeff’s company, Monkey Like Shiny, is a full service design and fabrication shop out of Berkeley that works on projects from bicycles components to satellite parts. He also occasionally breaks loose and designs and builds a ludicrous concept bike just because he loves bicycles and he’s got a weird itch. By some strange twist of fate, Jeff and I just happened to be hanging out at the Peacock Groove space, workshop and lair of infamous Minneapolis-based builder, Erik Noren, who mentored and inspired Jeff as a kid to make stuff, make cool stuff, and to go the extra mile.

Armed with celebratory beverages, we retreated to the back of the shop to talk about Jeff’s unusual sources of inspiration, the sometimes depressing realities of high-level development in the cycling industry, and his current completely ridiculous concept project bike – a bike designed for 50 years in the future. Who needs a headset when you can just use a giant sphere? READ MORE ->

Interview: John Jones of Jones Precision Wheels

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“I’ve had my espresso. I’m ready for questions.”

In many ways, it was predestined that John Jones would build custom wheels for a living. After all, wheels have been a constant underlying theme in his long and diverse industry career. Having started in a bike shop very soon after coming to the states, John quickly fell in love with the process and art of building wheels. He later joined the pro mountain circuit in the 90’s, traveling around the world and wrenching alongside other rock star mechanics of the time. He managed operations for brands like Outland VPP and Chris King, as well as a coffee delivery service before establishing Jones Precision Wheels.

Armed with his trusty Gabe Fox to cover the business end, John is now focused on tailoring wheels to customers full time. Every wheel begins with a conversation and is built as though John was building it for himself. In this phone interview, an espresso-fueled John Jones tells the story of how he got where he is and shares his personal process and philosophy for building wheels.

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Interview: Michael Kelley Advocates for E-Bikes On The Trails

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As a co-founder of IMBA and as Vice President of that organization until 1999, Michael played the strong diplomat in establishing use rights for mountain bikes first in California, then abroad. He helped to establish the argument for bicycles by working hand-in-hand with hiking and equestrian groups as well as state and federal spaces that strongly felt that mechanical advantage had no place on trails. Simultaneously, he helped to develop educational programs for trail users, personally posting “Rules of the Trail” at trailheads, so this new mountain biker trail user would have a code of conduct. He has spent countless hours since the early 80’s personally building and maintaining trails across the west. His life’s work advocating for mountain bikes won him induction into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2002.

Now 72, Michael has taken on a new role in advocating for bicycles – electric bicycles, which he views as the newest technology that can bring new people to the trail to enjoy the outdoors and to enjoy the ride as he has. And, as someone who initially argued for mechanical advantage use on trails for mountain bikes, he believes there is a case to be made for these motor assisted vehicles… READ MORE ->

Interview: Garrett Kautz of Strawfoot Handmade Musettes and Accessories

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Garrett Kautz started Strawfoot Handmade out of a desire to make clever bags and accessories for his friends. Five years on, Strawfoot produces a collection of bags out of natural or repurposed materials. Strawfoot also makes the occasional limited availability product such as gear bags for Niner and leather BB gun straps for Blackburn Designs (for cyclocross biathlon relay race for the Rangers camp). The designs within his collection are simple but surprisingly functional. Materials are natural or domestically made whenever possible and fasteners are steel or brass as opposed to plastic. Every piece in the collection is designed for durability and to gain character with age and use. I spoke with Garrett in his backyard several weeks ago (as he juggled his toddler on his lap) to get a feel for the operation… READ MORE ->

Interview: Adam Clement of Gevenalle

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Gevenalle, or Retroshift as it was known in the Beforetimes, was forged in the cold, muddy pits of Portland cyclocross to address a need for durable, serviceable, cross-specific componentry. Years on, founder Adam Clement continues to charge forward with the fourth version of his iconic shifter and brake lever system as well as a suite of similarly thoughtful and functional drivetrain components designed to keep racers racing in the most extreme course conditions in style…

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Interview: Rick Hunter with Hunter Cycles

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Rick Hunter is a guy of few words – which makes an interview a little challenging. His bikes (and his slingshots) really do his talking for him. When I visited last month, after dodging redwoods on the road up from Santa Cruz, we talked about a few interesting bikes he had on hand…

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Interview: Jeremy SyCip, SyCip Designs

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Having apprenticed under Paul Sadoff for years at Rock Lobster and gotten his formal building education at UBI with Albert Eisentraut as his instructor, Jeremy SyCip got his start with a heck of a frame building pedigree. In recently downsizing his operation from a massive space in bustling downtown Santa Rosa to his home garage, Jeremy SyCip has embraced efficiency with fewer machines, less time in commute, and less time walking across the factory floor between building operations. I spoke with him about getting his start and some of his more recent projects in this shop at the SyCip Family Compound near Annandale State Park… READ MORE ->

Interview: Eric Hawkins of Park Tool

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Like most great bicycle tools, the first repair stand was born our of necessity. The first prototype for the first production bike stand was welded together in the back of a hardware store in St. Paul, Minnesota. Fabricated to place the drivetrain of the bike at a comfortable working height, the stand was a huge improvement over working on a bike upside down on the floor. Five decades later, the descendants of this stand and the specialty tools developed in parallel are so pervasive within American cycling culture that it is almost inconceivable to see a shop or race pit without them.

The story of Park Tool is the story of establishing and supporting the American bicycle dealership as a professionally independent entity. Now in its fifth location (if you include the original hardware store), Park Tool produces 3500 individual parts for over 400 individual tools to support component and bike companies as well as bike shops and, more recently, consumers. Owner Eric Hawkins, son of co-founder Howard Hawkins, sat down with me to discuss the origins and current educational emphasis of the friendly blue tool giant of the industry… READ MORE ->

Interview: Paul Price of Paul Component Engineering

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Paul Price, AKA the founder of Paul Component Engineering, was always going to make stuff. Cool stuff. Having gotten his start building and selling skateboards in middle school, and making and installing his first set of cantilever brakes as a teenager, it seems like he was predestined from childhood to one day build a candy-colored component empire.

But it’s evident from speaking with Paul that he doesn’t take his empire for granted for a second, being one of the lone survivors of the slump in the component market that knocked out many of his domestic competitors in the nineties. He’s constantly evaluating himself and his product and always looking for new opportunities for new cool stuff, reserving a whole CNC machine in his factory for new product development at all times. “I ride most mornings. Come up with ideas. Can we make that? Do we know how to make that? There are days where I go for a ride, come up with an idea, get into the shop, and we’ll have a functional part by the end of the day. I think it’s pretty special that we can do that.”

When I visited his factory for a tour, we talked about the stories behind two bikes from his personal collection- bikes he built during critical times in the component company’s history… READ MORE ->