Raptor gravel frames – I have decided to build a quality steel production gravel frame set designed for direct sale. This is a project I have been milling over for a few years. It goes against the very concept of what I have done for the last 28 years and how my predecessors built, but seeing the market place as it stands and my now large inventory of tubes now has moved me toward this endeavor. The first frames will be built in mid to late February and ready for sale in March once I have enough to powder in an economical manner. The whole idea behind these frame sets is high quality and low retail price.

I began building frames in 1989 shortly after I learned from my direct predecessor, Tim Paterek. That was, however, years after my introduction to building that came in early 1985 after a teammate’s fork broke. Seeing Tim’s info at a local bike shop, we taped the fork to my colleague’s other bike and rode the 50-plus miles from Minneapolis to River Fall, Wisconsin, where Tim was located. I began to hang around the shop; began to absorb what I saw. Shortly after, Tim put me to work doing little things here and there. Building my first frame was based on whether I was going to buy one of Tim’s frames anyway — I should probably take his frame building course and do it myself.  During Tim’s transition back into teaching, I worked for him during 1992 and 1993 before he permanently moved to Vancouver, Washington.

I was very fortunate to learn from working for what I call a true custom builder: One frame built specifically for the individual rider. One of the best bonuses was that Tim was one of the few builders hand-polishing stainless steel lugs, leaving me the most experienced stainless lug builder in Minnesota. That is short of Terry Osell who only does polished seat stay caps.

I had built a good number of frames from 1989 to 1994. I became 753-certified in the very early 1990’s.  I never wanted to be behind on new materials or limited to just a small portion of what is out there. That was one of the two reasons I became 753 certified. Now you will think why not titanium and aluminum? Well I was on Tim Patereks short (very short) list of his former students to build a frame with some ti tubes an associate of his thought he would be able to acquire. Tim was going to receive about 5 to 6 frames worth of tubing. Two of these frames were to go to the tube provider and 1 frame each to each of his students who decided to buy in to the class. The deal never happened unfortunately, but my current knowledge if Tig welding and my experience with it firmly believes it was best it happened the way it did. Now why I do not build with Ti ? One reason I do not trust a material you can not build a functional fork from. Titanium has a short cycle life and will fail in that application. Two During my time in the industry titanium was unable to preform like steel until the tubes were made grossly bigger. Third, Yes it is rust proof, but a proper ventilation and minimal effort will prevent a steel frame from rust even if it is ridden year round in my state of Minnesota, and I do not mean the use of Frame saver other products are far better.  I have ridden Ti it does not ride as well as I think it should for the cost of a frame.  Now since the introduction of Aermet 100 alloy that I built with in 1995. This tubing is basically the parent metal to 953 and KVA stainless, titanium can not compare. Airmet 100 did not last due to its extreme difficulty to work with, and it was never picked up by any of the major bike manufacturers to produce it in the volume needed to continue manufacturing it.

Shortly after starting to work for Terry Osell or as Terry likes to say when everything good happened to me. I began to build and sell my frames through his store, as he had since started building building recumbent bikes and would only build an upright for one of his old good customers.

I was able to learn the exact differences and similarities of his building to Tim’s building. Terry taught me his building methods as well as Cecil Behringer’s way of building. This gave me a wealth of insight to how all of my predecessors build frame allowing me to incorporate specific things they did that I thought would enhance my building.

During my time at Terry’s shop I got introduced to unicycles as Terry was the only shop owner who was willing to stock unicycles for the local club. I never initially tried to build a unicycle. My introduction into building unicycles came via a request from Dustin Kelm of <a href=”http://unishow.com”>unishow.com</a>. He came to me with his old Miyata standard unicycle and asked if I could replace it with a new one. He informed me of certain things he needed and some he wanted as features. A few weeks later with some rare frame parts I had access to, I produced my first custom freestyle unicycle. Little did I know that it was going to set and industry standard and be copied, albeit poorly and cheaply in Taiwan, shortly after I sold a batch of frames to Unicycle.com

I started building many unicycles for people in Europe, Japan and a few other countries as well as across the U.S.  In 1999 Andy Cotter came to me for a request to build a touring unicycle. He wanted to start doing unicycle tours and needed to work out a faster wheel size. Initially we did a 700c frame worked though some tires Avocet 35 and 38c fast grips won in the end for the first tour. The first tour produced sore butts and the need for more speed. I do not remember if there was a slight introduction of the coker 36″  for the first tour. I am fairly sure it happened the following year before the second UniTour. Andy came back with a request for a handle of some sort for lifting themselves of the seat from time to time to avoid a numb butt. I built a  prototype unicycle extension which did the trick for them. I built it with the added bonus of extra cro-moly bumpers front and back to protect the seat as the road unicycles hit the ground a lot.

With the inclusion of the coker 36″ wheel came the need for a drage brake for speed control for down hills. I incorporated a V-brake with a thumb shifter to control the brake and act as a drag brake found as an extra on tandems. The extension and brake solved the last requirements for touring, although I did build a rear unirack for Andy Cotter as the rear part of his extension.

During this time I built a double wheeled unicycle for Kevin Gilbertsen. I had to hand fabricate a double mount bearing holder. Until this time I used Miyata bearing holders for all my unicycles and this one had to work off the same mount. The final bearing holder was a success Kevin noted that it was the smoothest pedaling two wheeler he had ever ridden. That bearing holder became the model to my cast piece I sell today.