See the interview with images -> circa cycles interview.
New at the 2016 NAHBS this year is Circa Cycles from Portland Oregon. Owner and frame
builder Rich Fox previously worked as a Design Strategist for various large corporations.
Although none of the products he worked on were directly related to bicycles, he did however
race bikes at a younger age. As with any racer, there is always an attraction to having a nice bike.
When I first saw Rich’s road bike at the NAHBS, the first thing that came across my mine was
ALAN. If anyone remembers from the past, ALAN was a bicycle frame company that used
oversized aluminum tubes that were glued together at the lugs. This was very unusual at the time
when most frames were steel and brazed together at the lugs, not made out of aluminum and
epoxy together. So one of my first questions to Rich was are these ALANs? Rich laughed stated
his first racing bike was an ALAN. I thought this must have been the basis for his design, but it
was more than that as Rich explained. Some of the reasons for the unique design was to lower
the fabrication cost and at the same time reduce lead times.
Rich started 4 years ago designing his frames, selecting
materials, figuring out the manufacturing process and
getting feedback from people before he finalized the
design. He started launching his frames in the spring of
2015. As a former Design Strategist, I think the R & D
paid off. His bikes are gorgeous. If you ever get a chance
to see his bikes you can see the detail and quality of his
frames. Also his frames are not like your typical steel
handmade USA made hipster bike. His frames are more
sophisticated. Everything he designed into the frame has a
purpose. His color selections are right on (classic) without
over doing it.
Rich is like the Steve Jobs of bicycle building. If you look
at the machine lugs you may not notice it but the cut
angles where the tubes meet are cut exactly at the same
angle of the geometry of the frame. Rich says this gives a
more pleasing and flowing look. Also the cut edges on the
lugs are beveled which requires a 5-axis CNC machine to
fabricate. I remember a friend of mine (Engineer at Apple)
told me Steve absolutely had to have the most perfect
radius on the edges of any of his products.
Other notable design features of the Circa is the rear stays are held together with shoulder screws
to the drop outs and bottom stay. This allows you to change to a belt drive system if you so
desire. His frames have an anodized finish which is a harder than paint. The Circa logo is laser
etched on the finish which is more permanent than decals.
With the assembly process of bonding tubes to lugs and using bolts instead of brazing allows him
to quickly assemble a frame. Having stock lugs and tubes, makes it even quicker. It’s all these
little changes from the traditional frame building techniques that allows Rich to reach his goal.