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.”
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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.”
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Christina Cooke is a writer based in North Carolina.

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