How the Handmade Bike Scene Is Changing

“There are always going to be collectors,” says bike-component maker Kyle Von Hoetzendorff, “but a lot of the builders want to build bikes that people can buy and go ride. The industry has grown up.”
The Moots Frosthammer fat bike, which accommodates 5-inch-wide wheels, is ideal for traversing snow, sand, and dirt. (Christina Cooke)

Kyle Von Hoetzendorff of Portland-based Chris King Precision Components, maker of the headsets, hubs, and bottom brackets featured on many high-end bicycles, has noticed a number of recent trends in the hand-built world.

Builders are moving away from stiff aluminum bikes and toward bikes made of steel, titanium, and even carbon fiber, he said, and they’re shifting away from the traditional lug style (where tubes are joined using metal socket-like sleeves) and toward TIG-welded construction (where tubes are welded together with their same material).

Bikes for off-road types of riding, like fat bikes, cyclocross bikes ,and gravel racers, have become more popular, and paint colors are more clean and modernist than they were a few years ago.

Finally, rather than focusing on novelty show bikes, Von Hoetzendorff said, custom builders have gotten more practical.

“There are always going to be collectors,” he said, “but a lot of the builders want to build bikes that people can buy and go ride. The industry has grown up.”
Presented by

Christina Cooke is a writer based in North Carolina.

Why Principals Matter

Nadia Lopez didn't think anybody cared about her middle school. Then Humans of New York told her story to the Internet—and everything changed.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A History of Contraception

In the 16th century, men used linen condoms laced shut with ribbons.

Video

'A Music That Has No End'

In Spain, a flamenco guitarist hustles to make a modest living.

Video

What Fifty Shades Left Out

A straightforward guide to BDSM

More in Business

Just In