Posts in the category Interviews

Interview: Robin Sansom of Blackburn

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Blackburn emerged in a landscape where bicycles were beginning to be recognized in the US for their capabilities as dedicated vehicles of transportation rather than solely recreationally or race purposed. Capitalizing on the opportunity to support the emerging need, Jim Blackburn started the ball rolling to create gear that allowed riders to carry what they needed while getting out there on their own.

The resurgence of the Blackburn brand over the past several years can, at least partially, be linked to its brand manager Robin Sansom. Arriving at Blackburn with a healthy industry pedigree and a soft spot in his heart for cargo bikes and touring, Robin has worked to rectify the current brand with the legacy established by brand founder and spirit animal Jim Blackburn, through the Ranger Program and in product such as the Outpost Bag line.

A few weeks ago, I sat down with Robin in Santa Cruz to discuss the history and the context of the emergence of the brand as well as its current direction. READ MORE ->

Interview: Curtis Inglis of Retrotec, Inglis

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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 ->

Interview: Todd Ingermanson of Black Cat Bicycles

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Compelled by his desire for a custom 29er singlespeed, Todd Ingermanson took up the torch 13 years ago to attempt to build his own. After several years apprenticing with Rick Hunter, he broke out on his own with Black Cat Bicycles and is now building and hand-painting custom to order frames out of his home workshop.

There are two very striking things about Todd’s shop, one being its scale and efficiency. There is no redundancy in machinery; there is a single very nice manual mill, a lathe, and a welding cart. It’s very clean. Everything that isn’t a machine is on wheels. It’s evident that this level of refinement is driven by the second very striking aspect of his operation: its location perched on the side of an extremely steep incline in Aptos, California (my rental car struggled to get up to it). During my visit, Todd and I spoke about his operation, his approach to frame-building, and his Manifesto.

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How Rumbleship is changing the relationship between brand & local bike shop

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Personally, I’m fascinated by anyone that can create a new business model for an existing industry and change the way it operates, improving or creating opportunities for others to succeed while making a living for themselves. In business and running for two years, Rumbleship has been steadily building an alternate supply chain and ensuring that their back end system would run smoothly as they grew. Now, they’re starting the outreach to build awareness among retailers. That growth, and a chance encounter at Sea Otter, led to this story.

Rumbleship’s raison d’etre is “to serve the independent bike dealer,” said Alex Lugosch, co-founder. “We’re a marketplace for brands and dealers, and we make money on interest from the loans to retailers. The twist is that the dealers aren’t paying the interest, the brand is by offering a small discount off their invoice to Rumbleship. So, it’s not a sales commission because Rumbleship pays the brand immediately after the order is placed and then floats the money until the retailer pays the invoice. Rumbleship takes all the risk and covers all credit card fees.

So, what’s the benefit to independent bike shop? To the brands? Lots of things…

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Interview / Factory Tour: Zen Fabrications with David Woronets

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David Woronets joined the industry in a way a lot of ex-elite racers have: he needed a winter job. But unlike a lot of those ex-racers, David found himself compelled by manufacturing and development of the physical product. After moving around the industry and after working for Elsworth for several years, David saw an opportunity for a job shop model of domestic manufacturing and jumped at it.

Five years after purchasing equipment from Elsworth, David and his team have established Zen as a viable alternative to overseas manufacturing. At NAHBS this year, Zen released their full line of house product, realizing a long desire of David’s to produce his own product… READ MORE ->

Interview: Jeremy Dunn of The Athletic

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It may have started with some jokes over beers, but in just over a year and a half, Jeremy Dunn and Julie Krasniak have developed The Athletic to encompass a portfolio of high-fashion cycling socks and casual and athletic apparel available for purchase online or in The Athletic’s Northwest Portland store. The product is colorful, sophisticated, and engaging, and regularly seen on industry taste-makers and pros on and off the course.

BIKERUMOR: Why are you called “The Athletic?”

JEREMY: The reason why we called ourselves The Athletic was my wife was a professional cyclist for many years in France, I worked for Rapha and in the bike industry since about 2000, got my start at Ben’s (in Milwaukee)- but the idea behind The Athletic was to start to branch out and be able to incorporate other sports, basketball, we do a lot of trail running in the winter… just be able to encompass sport in general… READ MORE ->

Interview: Natalie Ramsland of Sweetpea Bicycles Talks New Brand Direction and Her Trouble Maker

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Frustrated with the experiential gap between the women and men on bikes around her she saw as a messenger, Natalie Ramsland of Sweetpea studied fit under Michael Sylvester (co-founder of the Serotta fit school) and went to UBI in order to learn to create the bike/rider experiences she wanted to see for women in the world.

Ten years on, Natalie works to expand her effect by stepping back from the torch. Working with builders such as Co-Motion and Land Shark for frame construction and Gladys Bikes of Portland as her public portal and fit-studio, Natalie is able to focus on bicycle design for her individual consumers- though, she’s certainly not done building. READ MORE ->

The Bike That Got Away With Sky Boyer Of Velo Cult: Part 2

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“The Bike That Got Away” is a series of interviews intended to showcase the best bikes of all time from the perspective of the diverse characters that make up the cycling industry. It’s an opportunity to look back fondly (or not at all) on vintage technology, paint jobs – whatever made or continues to make bikes compelling and awesome. These are the bikes that have shaped us as industry members, dealers, cyclists, and super fans.

Read Part 1 of this piece to get up to speed. 

Now for part two, we’ll dive into more about that wild Hanebrink fat bike we briefly covered at Sea Otter…

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The Bike that Got Away with Sky Boyer of Velo Cult: Part 1

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“The Bike That Got Away” is a series of interviews intended to showcase the best bikes of all time from the perspective of the diverse characters that make up the cycling industry. It’s an opportunity to look back fondly (or not at all) on vintage technology, paint jobs – whatever made or continues to make bikes compelling and awesome. These are the bikes that have shaped us as industry members, dealers, cyclists, and super fans.

Within hours of rolling into Portland a few weeks ago I found myself at Velo Cult, part bike shop, part tavern, part freaking unbelievable mountain bike museum owned by Sky Boyer – ex-racer, hot pink bike aficionado (at one point, he had eight because “no one bags on your pink bike when you beat them”), and bike collector (part of his collection was on display with Subaru at Sea Otter). Still recovering from a concussion the week before, I found myself having to repeatedly sit down and take breaks from being so overwhelmed by the extremely technologically and historically significant bikes on the ceiling of the shop…

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