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Old 02-25-2018, 07:03 AM
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William William is offline
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Elrond D. What
Posts: 28,451
Cryptic Cycles

Marco from Legend at Bertoletti has been at the front of the Paceline for a while but its time for him to peel off and let San Clemente, California-based designer & builder Kevin Fickling of Cryptic Cycles to come to the front and take a pull. So, this week keep your eyes open and watch Kevin's wheel...

Carbon Fiber allows complete flexibility. It is the material of choice whenever weight, strength and performance are important.

Boron fiber, innegra, and kevlar are used throughout the build process. They are pre-impregnated with a two part epoxy and require heat and compression to cure.

We construct tubes in house focusing on raw materials, fiber orientation, wall thickness and tube diameter.

By creating our own tubes we have complete control over the weight, stiffness and comfort of the bike.

All Cryptic tubes are handmade. Starting with raw materials and finishing with a molded tube.

Composite materials allow the ability to fine tune every characteristic and build up strength in specific directions.

Kevin was kind enough to take a moment and answer a list of questions for us that are a mix of standards and member a few off-the-wall thrown into the mix. Our hope was to convey the builders love of their craft, hard details, and offer a few questions that bring out a bit of the human element that that helps them create the works that we love.

Q&A with Kevin Fickling

How / why did you decide to become a frame builder?
I started off in the bike industry working as a mechanic in a shop for almost 10 years. I always enjoyed building the latest and greatest bikes up as light as possible and started exploring ways to take it to the next level. I had always been fascinated with carbon and composites from a young age and my uncle owned Swift race cars. I decided to buy a hobby frame jig and build my first frame completely on my own from scratch with no formal training. I rode that for around 1500 miles studying ways to improve for the next build. I discovered Dave Bohm's carbon frame building school out in Arizona and attended his advanced class. Since attending Dave and I work together to develop new processes and techniques.

What influences the artistic side of your designs?
I have always enjoyed the classic steel road bike. A lot of the design of my frames draw from old school looks with new technology. I used round tubing, classic S bend chainstay's and attach the dropouts by creating a hand shaped fairing. For the paint themes I take a lot of inspiration from car companies like Pagani that do beautiful tinted exposed carbon bodies.

What is your method to determine fit?
I work directly with the customer or use someone that they trust with their fit to determine frame geometry. If a customer goes through a dealer they generally work with them on the fit then review with myself. All geometry is confirmed with the customer with a Bike CAD drawing.

What is it that keeps you passionate and focused?
Every bike I build is unique for the customer. I love working with them through the whole process from ride quality to the paint finish. Delivering a customers dream bike is what keeps me going. I also enjoy constantly pushing the technology used in every frame.

Can you tell us about your first bike? What did you love (or love to hate) about it ?
I think my first bike was an old red Schwinn cruiser that was passed down from my sister. I loved taking the training wheels off but hated how heavy it was!

How many times have you burned yourself or get carbon splinters?
I learned early that carbon splinters while hand sanding are the enemy! Now I wear gloves so it doesn't happen anymore.

What's your favorite beer or wine?
I have actually never drank alcohol haha!

Heard any cool music lately?
Ive been listening to classic rock lately. I switch it up every month or so.

How did you meet your spouse or significant other?
We met through mutual friends. She is a freelance artist and does hand paint jobs on a lot of my frames. Its awesome to be able to collaborate with our work!

What's there to do for fun in your town?
We have the beach 10 min. down the road and great riding weather year round. I also enjoy going up to LA to do street photography.

Do you put mustard or ketchup on your _Hot Dog_?
Ketchup usually

What type of bicycle is requested the most for you to build? Road, cross, track, fixed gear...?
At first it was almost all classic rim brake road bikes but the last year has seen a huge increase in flat mount disc frames. I built two disc bikes for Shimano this past year to debut a new city group called Metrea and the next generation Ultra DI2 disc for their Interbike display.

Who would you want to build a bike for you?
I want a Demon from Tom or one of Dave's Uber Bohemian lugged frames.

What is it about your approach to building/designing bikes that makes you unique, or separates you from the other builders out there?
What makes my frames unique is the fact that I build everything in house and tailor the layup of the tubing for every rider. I take a lot of pride in creating a frame that will deliver exactly what the customer is looking for in ride quality. The paint jobs always use unique colors that are custom mixed and never repeated on another frame.

Through your growth and progression as a frame builder, can you share a high point, and a low point that you feel helped shape who you are as a builder today?
The high point was for sure winning the best new builder at NAHBS in 2016. Its a show I had followed since the beginning and it was an honor to receive that award. I wouldn't say any one thing was a low point but its always a struggle when developing new parts and processes. Sometimes in composites things just don't go the way you would expect!

In any line of work, there is always something in the process that people feel they really excel at. What is that part of the process for you?
I really enjoy interacting with the customer. When you buy a Cryptic its more than just buying a bike. I really try to make a connection with ever customer to build them a bike that exceeds their expectations. I also love to experiment with new materials and develop my technique further.

How long is your wait list?
I try to keep wait times as low as possible but its around 4 months to get a frame from time of deposit at the moment.

How long have you been building frames.
I built that first frame just over four years ago.

Is there any type of bike, or request that you would decline to build?
Most the time its just something that I don't have the mold or tooling for. Ive added 4 new models this year with disc brakes so that has helped things for sure.

What does the future hold for Cryptic Cycles, where do you see the business in 5 years? Any top secret innovations on the horizon?
At the moment i've been developing some new tubing that features a carbon fiber honeycomb core. Im also very excited to be making all my drop outs and cable stops out of forged carbon. Its the same material Lamborghini is using to build their carbon fiber parts.

Do you have a favorite part of the building process?
I enjoy all of the build process. The best part is probably opening tube molds to see a perfect result. Thats a good feeling.

What is the most unusual / unique bicycle you've ever built?
I built a theme bike based off my favorite car that I took to the 2017 NAHBS show. It was based on the Pagani Zonda Tricolore. It was a concept I had in my head for a long time but it took a while to find the right customer to build it for. The paint was tinted blue carbon, it had tri color hand painted accents and the components were cerakoted in a burnt bronze to match the wheels and suspension on the car. I even made a one off full carbon stand to hold the bike.

What is your favorite non-cycling obsession?
Photography for sure.

Many thanks to Kevin for taking the time to answer our questions! Please feel free to ask Kevin any questions that pop up while admiring his work.


PS: In case you missed it, the previous Builder's Spotlight can be found here...

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Last edited by William; 03-19-2018 at 07:10 PM.
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