Smaller Builder – Strong Racing Frames
Location: Bozeman, Montana | Owner: Carl Strong
EMPLOYEES: Carl Strong, owner and welder; Dave Kirk, Ti guy; Tony Smith, machinist; Isaac the Shopboy
FRAMES: Rigid and full-suspension mountain, road, time trial, cyclocross, touring, singlespeed and custom
MATERIALS: Steel, aluminum and titanium
OTHER PRODUCTS: Forks and Ti stems; custom powdercoat paint jobs
YEARS IN BUSINESS: 7.5
WHAT’S THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE BETWEEN STEEL AND TITANIUM, FROM A MAKER’S POINT OF VIEW? Machining is the biggest difference. Titanium is a lot harder to cut, and you have to be very clean when you weld it. Even someone walking by while I’m welding Ti will affect the flux, which will contaminate the weld. So we do a whole bunch of titanium stuff at once. We put on what we call our Ti attitude-clean and careful.
WHAT’S YOUR FRAMEBUILDING PHILOSOPHY? I help customers organize their priorities. They want everything on the bike, but you can’t do everything. Function is the primary concern for me. A lot of frames I design won’t have any frills. For example, internal cable routing is a popular feature of some high-end road bikes. But to me, it just robs performance by introducing cable friction-and it puts holes in the frame. I try to find out what sort of riding the customer does or wants to do, and we go from there.
WHO NEEDS A CUSTOM FRAME? The riders who benefit most from a custom frame are those who’s body type doesn’t jibe with a stock setup, or who have a specific design in mind that can’t be found off the rack (someone looking for Genesis-type geometry but who doesn’t want an aluminum Gary Fisher). But the main thing is, our bikes are very high-end, top-quality frames that are carefully handcrafted. They’re gonna last a long time and they’re gonna ride the way our customers want them to.
SINGLESPEEDS-FAD OR FAB? They’ve got their place. In my neck of the woods, I wouldn’t recommend one-too much climbing. But it I lived in the Midwest, where the terrain is more rolling, I’d definitely ride one. We build a lot of ‘em, actually. We also do 29-inch-wheel bikes. They’re pretty cool.
LOCATION: 2210 Lea Ave., Bozeman, MT 59715
CONTACT INFO: 800/586-1105; www.strongframes.com