Handmade Bicycles: The Custom Experience- Meet The Titanium Builders

Editor’s Note: In this series, Grannygear introduces us to some custom frame builders and takes a closer look at the process of making and delivering a custom, handmade bicycle to a customer. In these e-mailed interviews, you will learn a lot about some of the best frame builders in three different materials.

We continue our series on the Custom Framebuilder Experience with a talk with two of the premier builders in Titanium, the uber-metal.

The Titanium Guys:

The Master – Kent Eriksen of Kent Eriksen Cycles.

“I definitely test the rides I make.”

 

The Cyclist- So, who are you? Please introduce yourself.

 Kent: I am Kent Eriksen, the ARRP member of framebuilders. I have been working on bikes since 1975, building frames since 1980    founding Moots Cycles. I actually made the first NORBA National winning bike ridden by Steve Tilford in 1983. My own racing history  includes many races at the NORBA national level (4th place in 1984), and in the past several years as an endurance and elite master racer all over North America. I definitely test the rides I make.

 TC: Who is your typical customer?

 Kent: Typical customers include avid cyclists. Riders who race, riders who simply ride, and avid cyclists who want a performance          

oriented bike.

TC: Why custom? Why not just an off-the-rack bike? They work well, don’t they?

Kent: We guarantee our bike fit. To maximize the comfort and performance from a bike, a custom fit is paramount. Everyone a certain height is not necessary a certain weight or strength. Our selection of tubes ensures the best performing frame based on a rider’s size and ability. Stock frames can miss the mark for many riders, so custom can be the way to go. As a custom builder, I have been able to introduce new wheel sizes, innovative geometries and…in fact, I made the first 29er for 52 mm tires and the first 650B for fat tires, both off road standards today.

TC: Why did you choose the particular medium to work with, be it steel, Ti, or aluminum?

Kent: Rideability. Titanium is the strongest, lightest most efficient metal for us to work with. We like its rideability. It absorbs shock, transfers energy, wears like no other and lasts forever. No need for paint, it is easy to maintain.

TC:  I know it is a complicated procedure in many ways, but how do you approach the challenge of assessing the needs of your customers? How does that process work?

Kent: I talk to them. I am the one who works with the customer. Then I scramble their brains with all the options. Finally I make a drawing or two based on all the information and we work through revisions to a final design. I use BikeCAD and Anvil jigs to obtain the perfect geometry. I am also involved in the entire process of the frame fabrication.

TC:  Let’s get this out of the way. The biggest knock against the small builder is the often shabby track record of missed deadlines, poor communication, etc. How do you run your business to avoid those issues?

Kent: We make our deadlines. We do not over-promise, and are very efficient with our time. We do not rely on email, rather we do spend a lot of time on the phone. We have a small, dedicated staff that focuses on the customer and the details.

TC: How do you stay passionate about bikes? What keeps you stoked?

Kent: I ride. I like to ride nice bikes.

TC:  Twenty Niners gave the custom builder a boost, what do you see as being the latest trend? Are 29″ers still a strong seller?

Kent: 29ers were absolutely good for our business, especially in the hardtail and full rigid frames. However, fast on the rise are 650b frames.

TC:  What do you feel is the future of the custom builder especially now, in very challenging times?

Kent: Our future is never solid, but we are busy now and truly focus on customer service. People want to get an experience out of their dollar, we give them that.

TC: Anything else you want to say? Future plans, goals, visions, final words of wisdom to folks considering a frame build?

Kent: Give me call, let’s talk bikes!

 Kent Eriksen

Eriksen Website

 

 

 

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 The New Guy  – Scott Quiring.

“My typical customer is a discerning type of bicycle rider.” 

The Cyclist–  So, who are you? Please introduce yourself.

Scott: My name is Scott Quiring. I have been building, starting for others, since the early 90’s and have had my own business Quiring Cycles LLC. for the last 10 years. I have raced extensively in the the last 20 years including a stint on the Bianchi team in the mid 90’s, primarily on the dirt but road also. I won a few races over the years and I have sponsored the Bell’s Brewery Team here in MI with bikes the last 3 years and am building this year’s team bikes now.  

TC:  Who is your typical customer?

Scott: My typical customer is a discerning type of bicycle rider.

TC: Why custom? Why not just an off-the-rack bike? They work well, don’t they?

Scott: Most of my clients are buying custom to get something that they can’t find in stock bikes, whether it’s fit, function or form.  

TC: Why did you choose the particular medium to work with, be it steel, Ti, or aluminum?

Scott: I build in all the above including Stainless Steel and Carbon Fiber as each has particular attributes to offer. I have become proficient enough working with these materials and have the proper sources of supply located so that I can do so comfortably and there are customers out there looking for a variety of bikes.

TC:  I know it is a complicated procedure in many ways, but how do you approach the challenge of assessing the needs of your customers? How does that process work?

Scott: Lot’s of time on the phone and answering emails.

TC:  Let’s get this out of the way. The biggest knock against the small builder is the often shabby track record of missed deadlines, poor communication, etc. How do you run your business to avoid those issues?

Scott: Hard work. I am not perfect but I do the best I can.

TC:  How do you stay passionate about bikes? What keeps you stoked?

Scott: I ride.

TC:  Twenty Niners gave the custom builder a boost, what do you see as being the latest trend? Are 29″ers still a strong seller?

Scott: 90% of my orders are 29″ers but I will build to any wheel size for Dirt, MonsterX, Cyclocross and Road. The latest trend is that the price of materials is going up by the day and my prices must reflect that in order to keep the doors open. Flexibility is key.

TC:  What do you feel is the future of the custom builder especially now, in very challenging times?

Scott: Hard work and lean manufacturing with a bit of prescience.

TC: Anything else you want to say? Future plans, goals, visions, final words of wisdom to folks considering a frame build?

Scott: It is a misconception that Ti is more environmentally responsible than other materials. 80% of the material cost of Ti is attributed to the manufacturing process which takes a lot of energy. I work in Ti and all the other materials to suit the needs of my customers and find that having a variety of price points and options available keeps my card full. All my finish work is done in-house including paint and etched finishes. Not having to send out frames to get this done greatly reduces my production time.

I also introduced the QBall frame and fork with sliding dropouts of my own design 3 years ago. The bike is all CroMo steel and available more readily and affordably to someone that is on the fence with custom. 

Scott

Quiring Cycles website

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