Category Archives: Bike Industry

Spencer Paxson: Fighting to the Top as a Working Man’s Mountain Biker

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There’s something of an adoration–occasionally bordering on idolatry–for the working men and women of professional bike racing. We hold high racers such as Erik Tonkin, Tristan Schouten, and Mo Bruno-Roy who put in a full week’s work and still make it to the podium on the weekends. That esteem is, in part, a recognition of their serious dedication to the sports we love and their willingness to sacrifice time to compete at the highest levels. But it is also that we can see ourselves in working pros, unrealistic as that is. Few of us will actually spend the time training to compete at that level and even fewer have the genetics to do so. But their success feels just a little more within our grasp, a little more aspirational to those of us finding time to train and race in between all of life’s other commitments.

And though he eschews the notion that his full time job is a badge of honor or an excuse, Spencer Paxson falls squarely among that top tier of American working pros. He routinely places in the top 10 at national-level professional cross-country mountain bike races, placed 5th at the 2012 cross-country nationals, has made the US World Championships selection, and was on the 2012 Olympics long team. I spoke to Paxson about the challenges of balancing his office job with his bike racing job, what it means to have a career as a cross country racer in the ever evolving world of mountain bike racing, coming up under the mentorship of Erik Tonkin, and much more.

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Martina Brimmer: Swift Industries and the Empowerment of Adventures by Bike

Bike Portraits
Photo courtesy of Martina.

Martina Brimmer is the force behind Seattle-based pannier and bag company Swift Industries. She’s also a dedicated bike tourist, adventurer, writer (she is a co-contributor, along with me, to the forthcoming bike touring guide Cycling Sojourner Washington), teacher and more. She and her partner, Jason Goodman, launched Swift Industries out of their home in 2008. It’s now a full-fledged business with full time employees and customers worldwide. I sat down with Martina in the Swift studio to talk about the challenges, successes, and growth of the company, her bike adventuring, her literary project Tough and Tender, and much more.

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Adam Abramowicz: a Kinder Approach to the Bike Industry

Adam (right) after a race.

Adam Abramowicz wants to run a different sort of bike company. Like many boutique brands in the industry, KindHuman sells carbon and steel framesets, apparel, and components. But the profits earned go back, in part, to a youth cycling scholarship and their team sponsorships are based on character first and results second. It’s a model Abramowicz hopes will create a welcoming, fostering atmosphere for would be cyclists and racers. I spoke to him about his company’s model, their youth scholarship program, the challenges of being a start up in a big, broad industry, and much more.

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Max Kullaway: Building Bikes Behind the Big-Name Builders

Max in the Hampsten workshop. Photo from Cycling Inquisition.

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.

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Touring the Moulton Factory

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.