Custom Bicycles
News: What’s new at Strong Frames January 19th, 2011

Today’s post is going to be included in the next NAHBS newsletter and Paul over at NAHBS was interested in hearing about what’s new at Strong Frames.  For a lot of regular visitors to my blog some of this is old news but we also have some news I haven’t posted yet and Loretta and I are very excited about it. But first lets start with the most obvious:

Strong Frames now offers Carbon Fiber

I’m now building tube to tube constructed full custom carbon fiber road and cyclocross frames. Pricing starts at $4800 for frame with Enve fork, King headset and PF30 Bearings. You can read more about my carbon fiber frames here, as well as tour the building process here.

Below is my new bike. I haven’t built myself a bike in about 5 years. This is one of the first carbon frames I built and I’ve been riding it unpainted for a while. I recently had Keith Anderson paint it and now I don’t want to ride it because I don’t want to get it dirty. I think I’ll ride my cross bike until the weather turns, which is June in MT.

Sending out more complete bikes than ever

A new trend we’ve been spotting here at Strong Frames is that the majority of our frames are now going out as complete bikes. I’ve always preferred to ship complete bikes because it gives me control over the quality of the final product. I prefer to help my customers choose their parts in order to make sure they get exactly what they need. I also like to assemble in house to assure the bike  is put together correctly and everything works as it should.

We can get just about anything a customer could want. Below is a Cane Creek 110 level EC44 headset I had custom anodized by Twenty6 Products (a  really cool Bozeman business) to match pink Chris King hubs. It accommodates a 1.125″ to 1.500″ tapered steerer using an external cup on the bottom and an internal cup on top. The 110 level headset isn’t available yet but will be very soon.

Is titanium making a comeback?

I’m not sure but another trend the we’ve been experiencing is a massive increase in titanium frame sales over steel. I’m not sure if it’s me, or just a coincidence but historically my titanium sales have been about equal to my steel sales. This year the ratio has shifted dramatically towards titanium. Currently my titanium sales make up 70% of frames sales.

I don’t know what the reason is. Maybe with the advent of super expensive carbon fiber frames peoples price threshold has increased and suddenly the titanium frames don’t look so expensive. Or maybe people just want the light weight and durability of titanium without having to worry about the unfamiliar carbon fiber. Whatever the reason I’m welding a lot of titanium these days.

Building Strong Frames final home

Last but not least is probably the most exciting thing Loretta and I are working on. If you’ve read our story here, you know I started my business in a garage and grew it to the point that we built a beautiful building to house manufacturing along with a bicycle shop, Stark Raven Cycles.

We absolutely love the building and we are very proud of it but when it was built we had a dozen employees and our needs were very different from what they are now. In 2004 Loretta and I started a downsizing process that has taken us years to complete. We have been pursuing a simpler life that offers us more freedom and also allows us to each focus on what we love. For me that’s framebuilding, for Loretta it’s her art. So in our efforts to trim the fat, be lean and eliminate the headaches of owning multiple properties we’ve decided to build a new studio/shop at our home.

We are currently working with a planner and Architect designing a new shop/studio space that we will be building behind our home. We live in a historic neighborhood so the city will require home-based business permits, conditional use permits and a certificate of appropriateness. We hope to have all our permits in place by late Winter/Spring.  It will be the final move in a long series of moves that I’ve had during the process of finding out who I am, what I want to do and what my business needs to be to fit into my life. Now, instead of my windows and doors opening into and asphalt parking lot, they’ll open into the beautiful gardens that Loretta has created.  We are both very excited.