Posts in the category Interviews

Road to NAHBS 2014: BME Design’s Wicked Nighthawk Stealth Fighter Road Bike & More!

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post, written by a friend of the builder, so it’s a bit of a different format than our usual Road to NAHBS. We’ve paraphrased and edited it slightly for length, but the spirit of the article remains intact. We like it because it provides a bit of insight into what many small builders go through to not only build the amazing bikes we feature here, but what it takes (especially for foreign brands) to ramp up then stop work to travel for the show. Big thanks to Peter Kortvel for the submission, and James D. Shepperd for writing it. Enjoy!

Most of Bikerumor’s readers are familiar with NAHBS, the North American Handmade Bike Show, center of gravity for the burgeoning handbuilt movement. What they may not know is how these builders prepare for this annual coming out. Writing as an amateur builder and enabler of other lunatic builders, painters and cyclists, I wanted to take this opportunity to share what goes on in a builder’s head when he commits to showing his work to 8,000 people in a weekend.

Building custom frames for a living is no easy feat. Marrying the skills needed to build appealing, durable and safe bikes is hard enough. Add to that artisanal skills, marketing know-how, accounting and negotiation, and you will start to appreciate how much is involved in bringing the custom bike of your dreams to reality.

In the last few hundred hours of work and worry before the show, builder Brano Meres of BME Design is making an even more demanding journey to bring his bikes to NAHBS and to the world. Based in Bratislava, Slovakia – a former industrial hotspot behind the Iron Curtain in what was Czechoslovakia – he is meticulous. He is taking the painful and uncommon for custom builders route of getting all his frames and components tested to EN14764 safety standards.

I asked Brano, why go through the trouble of testing with such small numbers of frames? “Well, since I first started with frame building, I have had much of my joy from innovating new materials and processes that allow them to achieve -I hope- similar tolerances to mainstream materials.”

He is bringing two complete bikes to Charlotte, two types of laminated bamboo frames, and two titanium/carbon frames to NAHBS. All have faced “the rack”…

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Road to NAHBS 2014: Retrotec Puts the “Fun” in Enduro

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Curtis Inglis is still splitting his talents between his namesake brand and the curvy Retrotec bikes, and this year’s interview is all about the latter. Despite the classic sounding name, his latest creation is all about the current craze in the mountain bike world. Yep, that means enduro!

BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?

INGLIS: I build entirely out of steel.

BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?

INGLIS: I have been getting more requests for hardtail mountain bikes built around the 140 fork. I have been working on getting the geometry and tube sizing correct to make the bikes sweet. I call all the bikes built around the longer fork with slacker head angle Funduro. I’ll have one at the NAHBS show.

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Road to NAHBS 2014: Breadwinner Cycles

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Breadwinner Cycles, a collaboration between well know builders Tony Pereira and Ira Ryan, debuted at last year’s NAHBS show with a solid if reasonable range of bikes. While they’re not giving up too much about what’s en route to Charlotte, we did get some teaser pics and a little update on their progress.

BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?

BREADWINNER: We use Columbus steel for all of our builds because of their expertise in metallurgy, consistent quality of finish and range of selection. We believe that Columbus tubes are the highest quality materials available. All our bikes will now come with our proprietary TITO dropouts, which feature durable stainless steel surfaces on wheel, derailleur and brake caliper interfaces to eliminate rust and add to the longevity of our frames. On our performance bikes, we have partnered with ENVE Composites to supply carbon forks. Their innovative design is the gold standard for carbon road forks and they compliment our frames well.

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Road to NAHBS 2014: Festka Brings Back European Titanium & Expands Product Range

Festka-Mist-Ti-disc-brake-cyclocross-fabrication-jig  Festka-Mist-Ti-disc-brake-cyclocross-fabrication-bottom-bracket-chainstays-builders

After a quite successful year of growth, we sat down with Festka founders Ondrěj Novotný and Michael Moureček, and new team partner Svatopluk Zatloukal over coffee to catch up with all that has happened in the last year, to talk about their progression at NAHBS, and to see where they are going in the next year. What started out as a quick road to NAHBS feature grew into a pretty deep extended interview, especially about their new projects.

Festka’s made-in-the-Czech-Republic bicycle lines are growing and the company is rapidly expanding into components and clothing. Last year they seemed focused on some extreme eye-catching (or even retina-burning) builds, but let’s take a look at what new things we’ll see from them at this year’s show. Like a new ti ‘cross bike…

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Road to NAHBS 2014: Ellis Cycles Sticks to the Classics. And a Fat Bike.

Mike's Fillet Modern Classic road bike during construction.

Mike’s Fillet Modern Classic road bike during construction.

Ellis Cycles founder Dave Wages’ show bikes are often very traditional, but not without a few hidden features. Here, he gives us a peek at his process with build photos from several of his customers’ bikes this past year.

BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?

DAVE: I build steel and stainless steel frames using materials from True Temper, Columbus, Dedacciai, KVA and Reynolds. I love the ability to pick and choose different tube diameters, wall thicknesses and really “tune” the ride of the frame for each individual rider’s needs.

BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?

DAVE: I’d like to think that I’m one year wiser.

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How to break into the cycling industry – Josh Liberles and Bre Rue of New Brand: HiFi Components

Extended Play 39mm Tubular Road Wheels

Recently, new brand HiFi Sound Cycling Components rolled onto the scene.  Their focus is building performance oriented wheels that won’t break the bank.  To do this, HiFi has a Taiwanese partner that helps them source the best rims and components coming out of Asia.  And while specific parts were not identified, they did let us know that there are some US based rims being sourced as well.

The rims are laced to HiFi’s proprietary, in-house designed, hubs using Pillar brand spokes (1420 X-tra for road and 1422 X-tra for MTB).  Most builds are done overseas where the rims are tested, wheels get pre-stressed, and a rigorous QC process is completed.  Once the product arrives stateside, the wheels are then put through another QC process here in Portland to ensure a quality product is delivered.  In the case of US sourced parts, the wheel builds are done here in Portland, OR.  Spokes on these builds vary per the needs of the wheel, but are typically Sapim Laser or something from the DT Swiss lineup.

Roll past the break for more on the brand, their products, and an interview with Josh and Bre.

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Road to NAHBS 2014: Kish Moves Titanium Frame Fabrication to North Carolina

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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.

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Road to NAHBS 2014: Mosaic Cycles Spreads the Bespoke Love

Mosaic Cycles pre-NAHBS 2014 interview teaser

Last year, Mosaic gave their bikes categories, providing a starting point for customers, and they added a disc brake road bike option and more mountain bike variations. This year, the story’s all about their dealers. As proof, we actually received the photo above from Prestige Cycles in the UK before we ever got the answers back from Mosaic’s Aaron Barcheck. It may not look like much yet, but Prestige’s Stephen Roche promises it’ll be on display in Charlotte with plenty of boutique UK components, an amazing paint scheme and a Di2 build. With a raw frame weight of just 1318g, it’s a pretty good starting point.

BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?

AARON: Mosaic Cycles builds with Titanium, Steel and Stainless Steel.

BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?

AARON: Throughout 2013 and into 2014 NAHBS Mosaic continues to work hand in hand with some of the best Custom/Handmade supporting bike shops in the Nation and now globally. We’ve added new Mosaic partners in Chicago (Velosmith Bicycle Studio), Toronto (Blacksmith Cycle) and Brisbane Australia (Crankstar Bespoke Cyclery) to name a few and are excited to bring the brand to new areas.

For the product side of things we’re offering our framesets now as a carbon module with Enve stem/seatpost and a Ti module with Mosaic built titanium stem and seatpost! Also launching at NAHBS will be a gravel grinder model, something we’re built for years but never put a name on. Around these parts of the country (Boulder, CO) the Gravel Grinder is King with so many dirt roads and riding potential all year.

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Road to NAHBS 2014: Rob English Electrifies Things

Rob English Cycles custom e-bike with Bosch motor and Gates Belt Drive transmission

Over the years, Rob English has shown us some of the lightest bikes around, which is saying a lot since he builds from steel! And usually, at least one of the very impressive bikes in his booth is for himself. And those bikes usually push the limits of what’s possible to streamline aerodynamics and shave grams. Look here, here and here for examples that’ll blow your mind.

This year, at least one of his bikes will be heavy, yet still likely very quick. The big guy shown above is part of the Gates Belt Drive e-bike competition at the show.  In his own booth, look for While he won’t have his own booth this year, opting to just send the motorized beaut for Gates’ expo, here’s what else he’s been up to along with several customer bikes…

BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?

ENGLISH: Fillet brazed steel with the occasional carbon or titanium tube.

BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?

ENGLISH: Up until last year’s show I was still working part time as the engineer for Bike Friday. Shortly after I made the decision to concentrate full time on English Cycles, and also to support my wife’s new venture of Velo B&B. The extra time has enabled me to build a few more bikes and take on some additional design work.

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