Matt Simpson Q&A – building bikes
Part three of a series of five interviews with frame builders (as published in RIDE #61, volume 3, 2013).
Alchemy Bicycle Company (Denver)
How long have you worked with your hands and what is your background? “Collectively we have over 30 years in frame building. Alchemy Bicycle Company is nine guys in total. We just added one. Eight of us work in the business full-time. We have a diverse background, with a crew that has some years at Alchemy, Serotta, Pedro’s, IF, Fat Chance, etc. Pretty much cover off the background in design, engineering, art, business and ‘stuff’.”
When did you begin building frames? What inspired you?
“We started in Austin, Texas, the inspiration was collective spirit to build custom bikes. We have morphed into Denver, in the heart of a cycling culture here in Colorado, and moved eight families here – one of us was already in Denver. And we’ve been re-inspired to evolve.”
What is your preferred frame material? “We work in three materials primarily. We have put our energy to carbon tube-to-tube construction – our own proprietary in-house carbon program – but we still make titanium and stainless steel bikes. Our new head welder (metal) comes to us after 10 years at Serotta, and he’s one of the best Ti guys in the industry, so we are staying in metal for now… but our significant investments have occurred in our carbon business. Our growth has been over 300 per cent in the last 12 months in carbon.”
How many frames do you build in a year? “Sorry guys… Won’t answer that one.”
From what other builders, artists or influences do you draw inspiration? “We draw inspiration from one another, our peers and other industries. A few of us have grown up a bit obsessed with the fashion industry, a few of our guys are car fanatics, a few use authors and chronicles as our draw down, but without a doubt, we all draw our inspiration from the music scene. At any given hour you will find our shop rocking out over a non-violent disagreement over music influence on bikes… and where Tupac is.”
What makes Colorado and its bicycle builders so unique? “First the brand of Colorado itself – it is an honour to work in such a culture of enthusiasts and loyalists. Being a builder in Colorado, there is panache and pedigree thanks to Ken Eriksen, and what he built at Moots. There is an up and coming building community with our move to Denver and what the Boulder builders are doing.
“We know that there has been a history of turmoil in other regions with builders, but we think in Colorado, the community is tight. Just the other day we did an interview together with five Colorado builders… It was humbling to be on the phone with the guys that have paved the way for Colorado builders, and an up and coming new group of innovators in Colorado.”
What is your favourite thing about attending NAHBS? “Showing what our nine guys are all about and what we achieve together….”