Bicycles

Ian Sutton on his time with Koichi Yamaguchi, the reason he crafts his frames from steel, and why he’s in no rush when it comes to building his frames.

Icarus Frames :: Interview with Ian Sutton
Icarus Frames :: Interview with Ian Sutton
Jeremy's Classic Track :: Icarus Frames
Roman's Stealth Track :: Icarus

“I keep finding ways to make things more time-​consuming like hand carving bi-​laminate joints or bending tubes. I don’t really want to build faster though, Icarus frame owners will always be part of a small family.”
– ian sutton

About Ian:
My name is Ian Sutton and Icarus frames is the culmination of my training and experience in the frame building world. I began building when I left college to attend the Yamaguchi Frame Building School in Rifle, Colorado. The training was 100% one-on-one with one of the greats in frame building, working with Koichi Yamaguchi learning the basics from start to finish, along with the art and nuance too. Later that year I visited builders I admired and wanted to work for to talk about the industry and decide if I should work on my own or gain more experience with a high-end custom builder. I was offered a job working for the esteemed Seven Cycles in Watertown, MA.

I left everything behind to take that jump into the frame building world and worked first as a finisher and then later advanced to a machinist. I finished and machined hundreds of frames adhering to Sevens’ rigorous quality standards. After hours I started building my own concept frames and I called it Icarus, setting up a studio in the Geekhouse shop in Allston. There I was able to further experiment with design and transfer my ideas to real world use.

Icarus Frames :: Interview with Ian Sutton

John Watson

Your first bike?
I know it wasn’t my first but the one I can remember specifically was a Magna mountain bike with the grip shift when I was 8 years old.

How did you get interested in building bikes?
I became interested while in school for engineering and was riding a lot. I decided that I didn’t want to just design things, I wanted to fabricate them too. I have always had a hard time finding the cool vintage frames in my size so it made sense to learn to make them myself.

For those of us not familiar with Koichi Yamaguchi, can you tell us about him and what it was like to learn from him?
Koichi Yamaguchi is THE master frame builder. He started out building for 3Rensho in Japan and works with a low-heat, low-stress building style that was the opposite of what the Italians were doing. He was the lead designer and builder for the US Olympic and national teams back when they still rode steel. I was intimidated to work with him one on one (I was the only student at the time) but he is a humble and patient teacher. He taught me the skills and tricks to build strong, straight frames with the simplest tools and I still use those techniques today.

Icarus Frames :: Interview with Ian Sutton

Roman's Stealth Track :: Painted by Brian at Circle A.

After attending Yamaguichi’s school, you then went to work at Seven Cycles in Massachusetts. What was that experience like, and what did you learn while you there?
I was really fortunate to land that job at Seven Cycles. I started out as a finisher which meant doing all the final machining, Titanium/Carbon bonding, frame alignment, polishing and decals. Its a steep learning curve and for the first few months, the inspector would send every frame back to me with a list of minuscule defects for me to fix. Everything had to be flawless before it could be shipped out and that taught me to scrutinize my work at a whole new level. I was also part of the A6 Carbon program there but after the first year, I moved to the machining department and became proficient in operating lathes, milling machines, hydraulic benders and frame jigs. I think that process increased my ability to multi-task and work with tooling faster.
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From Brano Meres Engineering & Design. An experimental frame made out of panels of ballistic-rated composites. Covered with a carbon fiber skin. Sharks with lasers beams not included.

X-9 Nighthawk :: BME (1)

X-9 Nighthawk :: BME (2)

“The X-9 Nighthawk. So now I know what Batman tools around on the streets of Gotham when the Batmobile is in the shop. (And that tin-can is always in the shop).”
– megadeluxe

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Insightful interview with Steve Potts. He’s been building frames and bikes for over 30 years.

Steve Potts - Dirt Rag (1)

Steve Potts - Dirt Rag (2)

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Rennholz Vehicle Concept :: Powered by Bosch (Cordless screwdriver) (1)

Rennholz Vehicle Concept :: Powered by Bosch (Cordless screwdriver) (2)

Rennholz Vehicle Concept :: Powered by Bosch (Cordless screwdriver) (3)

“This is what happens when an Eames chair gets tired of sitting around and sprouts some tires…and a cordless drill for an engine.”
– megadeluxe

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The Thunder-effer 5 has emerged with a vengeance. (View interview with Ezra Caldwell of Fast Boy Cycles).

Fast Boy Cycles :: TF5 (1)
Fast Boy Cycles :: TF5 (2)
Fast Boy Cycles :: TF5 (3)

“There were some very loose guidelines. Single speed. Front disk. And he sent me a picture of a gritty alley that he had taken on his last visit to NYC. Cryptic, but I took it and ran.”
– ezra caldwell of fast boy cycles on building the TF5

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Another stellar bike from Budnitz Bicycles. Paul shares his thoughts about the No.3, other designers he keeps his eyes on, and why he’s a big proponent of simple, quality living.

Paul Budnitz :: Photo By Jamie Kripke 

Paul Budnitz :: Photo By Jamie Kripke

“The new No.3 was built as a really serious city bike. It’s designed around big tires, big wheels, and a compliant, comfortable frame for street riding.”
– paul budnitz

The last time we spoke, you had just released the No. 1 and No. 2 Titanium. Your Titanium bikes aren’t for everyone’s budget…was price a consideration in choosing to make the No. 3’s from steel?
Yes, that was a consideration. I want more people to ride our bicycles, because they’re wonderful and transform your concept or cycling once you’re on one. Releasing our steel and stainless steel bicycles allowed us to charge a bit less.

That said, the steel bikes are not a compromise in any way. Steel is just a wonderful material to build a frame out of. As most serious bikers know, it’s hard to beat the compliance of a steel frame. And these bikes come with many of our proprietary titanium parts and top-end components. They’re wonderful bicycles.

How different of a ride are the No. 3s from the Titaniums?
The ride is different, but it’s hard to quantify because the frame design between No.1, No.2 and No.3 is also different.

The new No.3 was built as a really serious city bike. It’s designed around big tires, big wheels, and a compliant, comfortable frame for street riding. Since I don’t have a No.3 in titanium, I can’t make a direct comparison. The wheelbase is longer than the other bikes, and you feel that stability, along with stability of 2-inch wide tires when you hit gravel, potholes, etc.

No.1 is our lightest bicycle, all titanium. It handles very fast, and has narrower (but not too narrow) tires — but again, we’re focused on enjoying bicycling so it’s not a racing geometry.

No.2 is really just a lot of fun. The giant tires are comfortable and it’s great for bouncing around town.

What single design element did you obsess the most about on the No. 3?
The top tube arc. We had to get it just right. Actually went through several prototypes before we got the right arc, it kept coming out too straight. We eventually had to make a mold to hold the two top tubes to the right angle for bending.

Budnitz Bicycles No. 3 Steel (1)

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So I’m at this Korean restaurant with a friend, and he asks me, “Have you heard of Danny Macaskill? He does things with bikes that are impossible.”

I thought it must be the kimchi talking. After I saw this video, I now know he speaks the truth. I also think I’m the last guy on earth to find out about Danny. Interwebs you have failed me yet again.

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Just in time for St. Patrick’s Day.

Vintage Track Bike :: Freddie Grubb Frame (1)

Vintage Track Bike :: Freddie Grubb Frame (5)

“Learn to ride a bicycle. You will not regret it if you live.”
– mark twain

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Found this bicycle on Etsy this morning. Has some nice custom details thrown in.

1935 Ward Hawthorne Duralium Bicycle (1)
1935 Ward Hawthorne Duralium Bicycle (2)
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The Magnifica from Italia Veloce. Handcrafted bikes from Parma Italy.

Italia Veloce :: Magnifica :: Pure Italian Hand Craftmanship (1)

Italia Veloce :: Magnifica :: Pure Italian Hand Craftmanship (8)

Italia Veloce :: Magnifica :: Pure Italian Hand Craftmanship (6)

“The maniac care used to make our frames is visible and appreciable looking at the polished joints or at the back forks, and in every detail that make this bicycles true and unique pieces of Italian handicraft.”

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Handmade bikes from Bertelli of NYC. I feel like I’m in groupie territory here with Francesco and his line of bikes.

Sentinella :: Bertelli Bicycles :: New York City (1)
Sentinella :: Bertelli Bicycles :: New York City (2)

“Every Bertelli bicycle is a unique design object that you won’t find in any store in New York City. Every part is assembled by hand, finished and fine-tuned by me.”
– franceso

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This bike just does it for me. Just the right ingredients: wooden handlebar, worn Brooks saddle, michelin tires. Perfecto!

Bertelli Bicycles :: New York City
Bertelli Bicycles :: New York City
Bertelli Bicycles :: New York City

“This is the kind of bike you would ride during a bright sunny sunday in the middle of spring, with your newspaper under your arm, heading to you favorite breakfast bar. or at least this is what we are used to do in Italy.”

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