One of the really exciting aspects of the show for me this year was the strong showing of carbon in the new builder row – and really good stuff too. So it was not at all a surprise that Cryptic Cycles, by builder Kevin Fickling, took home Best New Builder with his carbon road bike, a technically impressive race machine. But what’s fun here is that right down the row, McGovern Cycles by Chris McGovern, was also showing pretty rad road carbon. The two builders, as it turns out, are attendees of a relatively new course put on by Dave Bohm on carbon frame construction. Perhaps these two are an indicator of composites to come – and that’s pretty exciting…

Cryptic Cycles


Kevin Fickling, the man behind Cryptic Cycles, put in ten years as an industry mechanic before deciding to make a go of frame building himself. He’s been working with composites for a few years now, but really got into building after taking the Bohemian advanced carbon fiber course, a one-on-one two week class put on by Dave Bohm, about a year ago. The frame’s execution is involved, even for a carbon frame, with Kevin making all of the tubing and frame parts for it in-house.


All holes in the frame or intricate features utilize 3K weave carbon for reinforcement. To accomplish each cable stop on the frame, Kevin started with a Paragon titanium piece then, through the use of micro glass beads (used because they add lightweight bulk) gave the carbon form around the titanium base. The resulting shape looks (and likely is) robust without added weight.

As far as the composite itself, Kevin was very vocal about the fact that he utilized Boron fibers in the lay-up, saying that Boron is more compression and impact resistant than carbon. The material, however, is challenging to work with. It does not enjoy being wrapped and is much more expensive.


The 7mm dropouts begin their lives as 37 layers of carbon that are then laid up then CNC’ed in-house and built into the stays.


Currently, the process is built around rim brake road bikes, but Kevin has plans for flat mount stays in the near future. Kevin is generally excited about his future in composites. Bike number four, which is currently in the works, is an opportunity for him to experiment with plant-based resins which he hopes to incorporate in his work moving forward.

McGovern Cycles


This happy fellow is Chris McGovern, the new builder behind McGovern Cycles. Chris raced BMX and road as a pro where he was exposed to fitting. After he moved on from racing, he first took a titanium frame building class with Kish and experimented in that material for a time. Later, frustrated by what he felt was too much sameness in bikes available and cheered on by friends, he also took the Bohemian carbon course.


Chris currently builds full carbon frames using ENVE tubes, though he is looking forward to experimenting with mixed media frames in the future. He foresees projects involving carbon and titanium in the near future.

NAHBS-2016_Chris-McGovern_McGovern-Cycles_carbon_new-builder_02 NAHBS-2016_Chris-McGovern_McGovern-Cycles_carbon_new-builder_06

The dropouts were constructed in house by laying up 3K weave fiber and machining out the dropout, similar to those of Cryptic.


The last nice touch on frame was the custom integrated handlebar.



  1. 1Pro on

    “”after taking the Bohemian advanced carbon fiber course, a one-on-one two week class put on by Dave Bohm, about a year ago.””

    did Bohm have an advanced class a year ago? no. Did both Bohm and this dude facebook their adventure together a few weeks ago? yes. please tell me it was a month ago.

  2. Bob on

    These small builders put out some pretty nice looking frames but, are they required to provide frames for safety testing and have product liability insurance like the major players? What assurances does a buyer have that these won’t come apart at an inopportune time?

  3. Chase on

    Now I get it. NAHBS must be like the crazy vendor section in back of Interbike back in the day.With exceptions for the Black Sheep, Hollands and the Titanium artisans of course.
    We used to walk through there and marvel at the marginal stuff being promoted. Much of it was unfinished and needing development. Sort of like these frames.

  4. Matt Conrad on

    Anyone at the show selling (or offering to build frames for customers) are required to have an appropriate insurance policy per the NAHBS requirements. There are no requirements for safety testing for small custom frame builders, but many send their frames to facilities that will test to industry standards….just to be sure they won’t have to use their insurance policy.

  5. Bob on

    @Matt Conrad thanks for the info. And I appreciate what the small guys do. Matt Appleman did a great job repairing a broken mountain bike frame for me.

  6. Warwick Gresswell on

    There’s EU standards but they’re flawed. Everyone has insurance, but ultimately it’s up to the individual to decide whether or not their skills are ready for commerciality, and up to customers whether they stay that way. You have to also realise the amount of not only technical knowledge but also physical skills both these guys have. I’ve also gone through Dave Bohm’s composites course and its intensive and comprehensive – I’d actually be more comfortable with newer composite builders than I would be with newer ferrous and non-ferrous builders. Especially if I know they’ve done the course. #carbonframebuildingschool #bohemianbicycles #carbonbitchez

  7. David Bohm on

    Hi Bob. When I teach these guys I use a very conservative approach for the educational component. I am one of two small builders I know of that has a testing facility in house. If a builder tries something new and different outside the scope of what they learned here they should have the proper testing procedures in place along with insurance. I can guarantee they have heard this until they don’t want to hear it anymore during the course. Those are good questions always to ask of your framebuilder.

    Bohemian Bicycles

  8. ajax on

    The NAHBS Best New Builder Award was re-awarded to another builder. I read somewhere that Nick Crumpton, who some deem as one of the best custom carbon builders in America, announced that he was the NAHBS judge for the New Builder Award category, and that he was re-assigning the award to another builder.

    I thnk it is really unfortunate that NAHBS had already publicly announced Kevin Fickling the award before Crumpton reversed the decision. However, Nick Crumpton knows carbon bikes and had cited that he had the authority, as the NAHBS judge, to make it right. Unfortunately, that meant taking away the award and giving it to someone else who didn’t receive any credit in this article.


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