Marcroft Cycles - the art of Framebuilding
by andrew_f_martin on Dec 04, 2007 at 6:52 AM
I’ve wanted to build frames for a long time. I even majored in Material Science Engineering with an outside hope of getting a gig in “the biz”. I got to talk with Brian Marcroft about the steps he took to make his framebuilding dream come true. He’s still a small builder, but he’s quickly making a name for himself amongst the hot Oregon custom frame market.
BH: Tell us a little about how you got into the framebuilding craft. What’s your background - what sort of training did you seek out?
Marcroft: I got into this business kind of on a whim. I thought, ‘what do I really want to be doing with my life?’ Of course one part of the answer was, ‘I want to be doing some thing related to cycling.’ So with my background in manufacturing and engineering it wasn’t too far of a stretch to find my cycling niche was going to be frame building.
I decided up front that I wasn’t going to mess around trying to figure out how to build on my own. I wanted to know all the tricks that experienced builders have learned over the years. I did my research and decided to take a course at UBI in Ashland. It was a great experience. I’m sure Kish got tired of all my business related questions but when you have a resource right there you have to take advantage of it.
I took the course in October 2005 and by February 2006 I was building out of my own shop. It was a ton of work getting up and running in that short amount of time but I did it and have been turning out bikes ever since.
BH: Just a ballpark, but aside from the technical aptitude, manual dexterity, and attention to details - what’s the “checkbook commitment” to start a frame building shop?
Marcroft: I’m still acquiring equipment and tools but to get Marcroft Cycles started I dropped about $20K. I tig weld so there are some extra expenses that I have that a braze builder doesn’t. Because of that I was pretty frugal with my spending. I scored a used Frame jig from the guys at Sycip and my Bridgeport mill I got for a song and dance. Knowing people in the manufacturing world really helped the process of getting started.
BH: I love steel frames - are you going to continue to focus there?
Marcroft: Steel is sweet, I’ll agree. That’s going to be my focus for the time being. The steels that are available right now are awesome.
BH: How do you make them so light?
Marcroft: I don’t know if I would say my bikes are all that light by industry standards. I think most carbon builders are touting sub 900gram frames…whatever. I try not to focus on building uber-light bikes. I want my stuff to last longer than a season of riding. That being said my race bike is 15.1lbs race ready (pedals, bottle cages, etc.)
BH: You got a chance to check out the competition at the Oregon Bicycle Constructors Show.
Marcroft: Unfortunately I didn’t show my stuff at that show. I will be displaying at the NAHBS in February. That’s going to be a big show. I’m hoping to gain some local exposure from being there.
BH: Do you have any favorites?
Marcroft: Favorites….they’re all good. Jones is doing some fun stuff with Ti and Vendetta had some blinged out bikes.
BH: When do you plan to put your work on display?
Marcroft: Most of my work is being displayed under cyclists. Most everything I’ve built is being ridden by guys. Heck for NAHBS I’m not even building a ‘show bike’. I’ll have bikes on display but they will be my race bikes and some customer bikes.
BH: How long have you been doing Ti frames?
Marcroft: I learned how to do build with titanium in June of 06. I haven’t really pushed titanium too much. I can do it if asked but everyone is pretty stoked to get a steel bike from me. Besides have you seen some of the ti bikes being made right now by established builders, they’re out of control. It’s tough to compete with ti bike manufacturers that are forming and welding their own tubes. Maybe in time I’ll get there.
I love your disc brake steel rain bike you made last year for a customer. I also have seen quite a few Marcroft Cyclocross bikes. Would you say you have a “niche”,
or are you open to all frame types?
Marcroft: Rain bikes in the northwest….what a novel concept :) Those things are great! Same geometry as your race bike and all the water protection and stopping power you’ll need for our rainy winters. I wish I would hurry up and get mine done.
Oregon is especially crazy for cross. I’m trying to support that market as much as possible. So much so that a Marcroft Cycles factory cross team might be coming together for the 08 season.
No niche, I build whatever to whomever….well, except 29ers. There are lots of builders out there specializing in those things. I would say I enjoy building road bikes the most. I like the thought of my bikes getting ridden almost every day.
BH: I remember a post a while back on your blog about the “fastest framebuilder on his frame”. I know John Slawta races his Landsharks. Have you had a chance to put it to the test?
Marcroft: LOL! I got so much shit for that post! Let’s just say when I line up for a pro 1/2 race I don’t see anyone else racing a bike they built.
BH: Many of the big-name Oregon builders have many month lead times before getting a frame. What sort of times are you able meet?
Marcroft: I have a pretty good turn around. I am pretty up front with people though. I still have a full time job, a new baby, a wife, and I’m training for next year’s season. The building of bikes is fit in between all that. I’m pretty efficient with my time in the shop and on the computer and can get stuff done in a hurry.
BH: What’s the most surprising thing people will find from their custom bike?
Marcroft: I think it’s the overall experience of getting a custom bike. It’s not very often a rider gets to have input on the design of a bike.
Thanks Brian - See you at the races!
The Sky Fell Down in Seattle
by Byron on Dec 03, 2007 at 9:18 PM
I’m in Vegas and just now getting reports of the deluge and flooding in Seattle. Anyone ride in that?
Photos from the West Seattle Blog.
Biggest chicken parm ever
by Byron on Dec 03, 2007 at 8:01 AM
In Vegas, off the strip and resorts, out where the locals eat you can get a chicken parm this big for like 8 bucks. Being the off season and all, I didn’t eat all of that, but did put a dent in it.
Eastside Trail in Jeopardy
by Kelli on Dec 02, 2007 at 11:45 PM
The Seattle Times reported Saturday that King County Executive Ron Sims and the Port of Seattle no longer agree on the future of BNSF Railway’s Eastside rail line.
The original plan would have The Port purchasing the 42-mile rail line between Renton-to-Snohomish and leasing the southern portion to King County for a hiking and biking trail, in exchange for property on Harbor Island an input on the future of Boeing Field. But with support from citizen’s groups, The Port is now researching the feasibility of running diesel passenger trains on the line, seemingly abandoning the idea of a trail altogether.
The trail would have connected several others serving the area, to create a 125-mile network of recreational trail. Certainly this story is just beginning, and we can expect more information in weeks to come.
by Byron on Nov 30, 2007 at 2:45 PM
I spent a better part of my youth on a Sears bike trying to jump and crash like Evel Knievel – him and the Bionic man were my heroes, later it was rock n roll.
Reading about his death brings back all kinds of memories of why I even ride a bike.
More from the NYTimes and NPR.
Bike Hugger LDN
by Byron on Nov 30, 2007 at 12:36 PM
I’m in London next week for business and will ride all over the place. Any of our readers across the pond got some tips or want to meet up for some coffee and a ride?
In preparation for the trip, I’ve been reading the BBC, weird stuff and gossip on the Daily Mail, listening to LDN from Lily Allen, Goldie Looking Chain (You Knows It!), and reruns of Are You Being Served.
BMX Sound Systems in the New York Times
by Dave R. on Nov 30, 2007 at 12:46 AM
There’s an interesting article in the Grey Lady today about some bicycle culture popping up in NYC all the way from South America. Guyanese and Trinidadian youth are loading down their rides with batteries and speakers – 5,000 watts worth of loud! – and cruising the neighborhood.
It’s great to see this taking off in the youth as an organic outgrowth of their culture, I don’t think it’ll be long before we see this around a bit more broadly. I always enjoy a ride with tunes, and wearing ear-buds is a bit too dangerous and anti-social (especially as I’m ringing my bell before I pass you on the left, eh?). I’ve been hauling around the big-a** boombox on my xtracycle for a while now, but it doesn’t have quite the oomph I’m looking for. I’m still considering some ‘motorcycle speakers’ and a small battery for the next RideCivil event. But these kids have clearly got it wired. As does D.J. Fossil Fool.
So Huggers – what do you do for sound? Would you ever install speakers on your bike? Enough that you’d need training wheels like the dudes in NYC?
A True Bike Hugger
by Byron on Nov 29, 2007 at 6:48 AM
Ana bought her husband a Bike Hugger jersey and wrote this about it
I purchased a Bike Hugger jersey for my husband and he used it at his last cyclocross race… thank you for making such a great product - it’s been through mud, blood, and mountains, and it’s in PERFECT shape. Mike, my husband, loves his bikes and loves this jersey as it epitomizes who he is: a true bike hugger.
Her husband Mike had this to say
… this is the best quality material: it’s durable, great for hot and cold weather, and love the full-length, high-quality zipper with the plastic border on the inside really keeps the jersey in place. Â After many falls, this jersey is TOUGH! and the only thing to stick to it is me! neither mud nor blood will, though. Finally, I love the logo, and if they could, all my bikes could attest to that.”
Mike is wearing the jersey in every race and it’s his unofficial team jersey; he’s his own team. Hincapie Sportswear makes those jerseys for Bike Hugger and that’s a testament to their work.
Right on Mike, but you’re not on your own. We consider you part of Team Bike Hugger.
Issaquah-High Point Regional Trail opens
by Dave R. on Nov 28, 2007 at 11:26 PM
View Larger Map
Issaquah cut the ribbon today on a new pedestrian and cycle trail, connecting the dots between several existing trails and some central locations. Kent Peterson’s (from the Bicycle Alliance of Washington) been working on this for a long time and has these notes and a few photos from his talk at the ribbon cutting. As Getting Around Issaquah notes, the new trail is really focused on transportation rather that recreation. It should be a great resource for the 425 crowd for beating the I-405.
UPS Bike Delivery
by Byron on Nov 28, 2007 at 8:24 PM
I haven’t reached anyone at UPS HQ to comment, but do have it confirmed that in Seattle they are going to deliver packages during the Holiday rush with cargo bikes. The brown trucks will deliver to various stations, where the cargo bikes will load up and deliver in certain neighborhoods. We’re on the watch and will blog it as soon as we see them. If you see the presumed brown bikes, please comment here or contact us.
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