Road to NAHBS 2016: Tim O’Donnell of Shamrock Cycles

Photo by Tim O'Donnell
Photo by Tim O’Donnell

Until last year’s NAHBS, I could say with complete certainty that I’d never had a bike move me to tears. That streak ended when I stepped into the Shamrock Cycles booth at the show. My friend Tim handed me a cold beer, walked me over to the Paper Airplane bike and told me its story. The bike, which was designed to be ridden with full fenders, but race-able without, was dripping in all the sweet little details and considerations that you know to look for in a Tim O’Donnell bike. It was purchased by a guy and built for a woman he met at a cyclocross race and was covered in 585 hand-painted paper airplanes, one for each day between their meeting and their wedding. I started weeping right there in the booth, pleading, “Tim, what are you doing to me?!”

But as exceptional as that bike is in terms of craftsmanship and execution, it isn’t exceptional within the context of the work that Tim does. And that’s what I adore about him as a builder and as a person. Tim’s work is obsessive, but never for the sake of being obsessive, it’s always to make himself better for the next thing…

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Road to NAHBS 2016: Adam Sklar of Sklar Bikes

Photo by Adam Sklar
Photo by Sam Atkins
Photo by Sam Atkins

Finding himself preoccupied with bikes from working long days as a mountain bike coach, Adam Sklar took the leap, learned how to braze, and built his first bike on a hacked together fixture in his parents’ garage (one that he still rides). Almost five years on, Sklar Bikes has evolved to be a brand that builds bikes designed around “having fun in the woods with your friends,” and Adam has enjoyed upping his game in terms of customer service and the business side of things to create a consumer experience that matches his bikes… Continue reading “Road to NAHBS 2016: Adam Sklar of Sklar Bikes”

Posted in Fatbike, Feature, Interviews, Mountain Bike, NAHBS5 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Nate Picklo of lov bikes

Photo used with permission of lov bikes
Photo used with permission of lov bikes
Photo by Nate Picklo

When faced with some life-changing news, entrepreneur and lov founder/creative lead/painter Nate Picklo decided that there was no time like the present to chase his dreams in cycling. lov bikes fabricates their custom carbon frames in its facility (or as Nate calls it, their “lov shack”) in Eagle, Colorado, though their clean and curvy carbon frames are put over the top by their in-house paint schemes.

Today, lov bikes is looking forward to beginning Titanium fabrication as well as strengthening the collection of artisans and collaborators that make their bikes the ultra-expressive machines that they are…

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Posted in Cyclocross, Feature, Interviews, NAHBS, Road Bike7 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Don Ferris of Anvil Bikeworks

Photo by Probably Dead, Used with permission of Don Ferris
Photo by Anvil Bikeworks
Photo by Anvil Bikeworks

Don Ferris is so pervasive within the frame building community that many take for granted that he exists. His company, Anvil Bikeworks, develops and fabricates the fixtures that help build many of the bikes you’ll see at NAHBS this year. At this point, it is unusual to walk into a frame builder’s shop and not see something of his work.

But knowing how much the fans of the community enjoy the cult of personality, it is a crying shame that Don, due to his customer base of frame builders, is relegated to the background. He is one of the more dynamic members of the industry. Few others have gone from the wrong side of the law, to the Antarctic, to UBI, to giving up a successful career as an esteemed frame builder in order to build the tool that the community uses to do their jobs every day.

When editing, I enjoyed the story so much that I left it a little longer than the others because, hey, this is the internet…

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Posted in Clothing-Gear-Tools, Feature, Interviews, NAHBS17 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Carl and Loretta Strong of Strong Frames

Photo by Loretta Strong
Photo by Loretta Strong
Photo used with permission of Carl Strong (jumping)

Strong Frames has gone through several phases in its over 20 year existence. It grew from a one man band in Carl Strong’s grandmother’s garage to a million dollar a year company with twelve employees at its largest. In the past ten years, however, the company has been poetically distilled down to its current, ultra-focused, customer-centric format.

Getting to do this interview was very exciting for me for a couple of reasons. For one, having spent my last few weeks interviewing builders and frame builder community members, Carl Strong’s name has come up quite a few times as someone who deserves accolades within the community for his work in helping new builders to get established and as someone who people have gone to for advice. For another, this interview was an opportunity to talk to the better half of Strong Frames, Loretta Strong, who is a massive reason why the company is the way it is today…

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Posted in Feature, Gravel Bikes, Interviews, NAHBS8 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Renzo Formigli of Formigli Bicycles

Photo by Donald Sempken
Photo by Bob Wilkinson
Photo by Bob Wilkinson

Renzo Formigli of Formigli Bicycles comes from a long line of racers, so it is interesting that he would take to building bikes rather than following the family tradition of racing and coaching. Though his decision to make bikes was made as a young boy, his career path was solidified when, as a young man, he was introduced to the art by Cino Cinelli himself. Today, Formigli produces aluminum, steel, and carbon framesets in his Italian factory and ships worldwide…

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Posted in Feature, Interviews, NAHBS18 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Patrick Gauci of Patrick Cycleworks

Photo by Wyatt Clough
Photo by Marcell Lovell
Photo by Marcell Lovell

The exciting thing about covering new builders is seeing patterns between them and current, established builders and not knowing exactly what they will turn into as they mature.

Ontarian and new builder Patrick Gauci of Patrick Cycle Works is one of a group of builders that started their careers in aerospace before trying their hands at frame building. Patrick works as an Aircraft Structures Mechanic by day, and builds frames by night. Still at the stage where he is building for friends and family, Patrick has acknowledged that he’s learned a lot over his short career as a builder. He is enthusiastic, however, that he’s found a way to explore his passion of cycling in a deeper way…

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Posted in Feature, Interviews, Mountain Bike, NAHBS, Road Bike2 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Steve Bilenky of Bilenky Cycle Works

Photo by David Luddy
Photo by Steve Bilenky
Photo by Steve Bilenky

The story of how internationally renown, well-oiled jam band, Bilenky Cycle Works, came to be is labyrinthine. Steve Bilenky, who wants it emphasized that he is only a small part of an excellent team, began his industry career at ten hustling bicycle repairs for neighborhood kids out of his family’s garage. That led to job at the local Schwinn shop assembling and repairing bikes, where he pored over catalogs and absorbed every bike thing he could. Steve was modifying old cruisers and blasting around in the woods with his friends in the 70’s before mountain bikes were a glimmer in the proverbial eye.

His academic and professional direction initially would take him away from bicycles, and his deep-seeded entrepreneurship would draw him into all sorts of unusual ventures. Inevitably,  he would return to Philadelphia and bicycles where he went from repair and frame alteration to starting his first bike brand, Sterling Cycle Company – all on his way to Bilenky Cycle Works…

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Posted in Commuter, Feature, Interviews, NAHBS8 Comments

Road to NAHBS 2016: Chris ‘Soultrain’ Sulfrian of REEB Cycles



Photos by Bobbie Turner

When the president of the Oskar Blues Brewery had his bike stolen, his solution was to start a bike brand. Why not, right? After a few prototypes were made, Chris Sulfrian was tapped to build bikes for the brand, essentially making it happen for the brewery. Coming into its fifth year with hundreds of bikes on the road, Reeb (beer spelled backwards, if you’re new to the game) has established itself with off the wall models and some of the most compelling implementations of gear boxes on fat bikes (or elsewhere) on the market…

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Posted in Fatbike, Feature, Interviews, Mountain Bike, NAHBS3 Comments