Max Kullaway might not have the same celebrity as some in the industry, but his roots in frame building run deep. He got his start production welding at Merlin. He later joined Seven Cycles as the company got off the ground. Now, with over two decades of experience under his belt, he’s building for Hampsten bikes, welds titanium frames for Davidson, and runs his own company 333 Fabrications (pronounced triple three). I sat down with him in the workshop he shares with Steve Hampsten at Hampsten’s house in North Seattle to talk about his background in metal fabrication, his early days in the New England frame building world, his move to Seattle and reentry into bike building, getting 333 off the ground, and more.
The first time I saw a Moulton bike, it was on a Seattle Randonneur‘s 100k populaire. I’d caught up to a man on a Moulton and rode with him for a while.
Making small talk, as one does when riding with a stranger, I said, “That’s a pretty wild looking bike you’re on.” Without missing a beat, he replied, “It rides beautifully.”
Dr. Alex Moulton’s unique design was introduced to the world with the 1962 launch of Moulton Bicycles in Bradford-upon-Avon, England. The many-triangle design is supposed to provide a natural suspension while making the bike stiff like a traditional double-diamond frame. The small wheels, run at high pressure, offer low rolling resistance. The compact design was meant to facilitate easy storage for commuters.
British filmmakers/branding firm Well Plastic produced a short documentary about the company, providing a glimpse into how the frames are made and the history of Moulton.
Angles & Poise, a bike blog focused on the high-end and boutique end of cycling, put together a neat infographic tracing the history of the New England frame building world. The timeline starts back in 1972 with Witcomb and Serotta and goes all the way to present day with companies like Firefly, Tomii, and Chapman. Click the picture above to see the full version. Fingers crossed they give the same treatment to other regions of the country with a high concentration of frame builders!
Steve Garro has been somewhat of a mountain bike legend for longer than many people have even been riding. In the late 80s and early 90s, his crew of racing and riding friends, The Mutants, were known as the wild men of the Southwest racing scene. They were as famous for jumping fires and riding gnarly slick rock as they were for racing hard against the biggest names in mountain biking. Steve later began building his own mountain bikes, launching his company, Coconino Cycles. A collision with a car in 2005 nearly took his life, but he recovered and returned to work building custom bikes of all kinds in his Flagstaff, AZ workshop. I got the chance to ask Steve questions via email about his early use of bikes to get out into the wild, his racing days with The Mutants, his frame building, and much more.
Brothers Jack, Norman, and Ken Taylor were professional cyclists in Britain in the 1930s and 40s. Dissatisfied with the equipment available to them, they began hand building their own frames. That humble start laid the foundation for Jack Taylor Bicycles, the deeply-influential bicycle company the three brothers ran together for nearly seven decades.
In 1986, BBC produced a short documentary about the brothers, their history, and their work. It provides a terrific look into their craft, their attention to detail, and dedication to doing things by hand and doing them properly. In addition, the brothers speak fondly of their racing days and share their views on the changing world and industry around them. It is a fantastic way to spend 25 minutes.