A while back, we featured one of Sarif Cycle worx’s first builds, a very lightweight steel hardtail 29er for local pro Tommy Rodgers. Since then, builder Dave Johnson has been busy evolving his work…and making plenty more bikes. Given the proximity to his (and our!) Greensboro, NC, base, Charlotte makes the perfect start to his NAHBS experience.

BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?

DAVE: I love working with steel. It allows for freedom of creativity, incorporating curves and custom features. Most of my frames have been fillet brazed, and I’ve used an array of tubing sizes. Fillet brazed frames allow for a wide variety of angles for a very organic appearance. All of this can be tailored to the rider’s needs and desires.


BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?

DAVE: Everything is new! This will be my debut NAHBS. Sarif Cycle worx has been my focus for the past year and a half. I’ve been building custom frames for clients wanting many different styles – short wheel base, multi-use bicycles, and lots of extras, something they can’t find at their local bike shop.


BIKERUMOR: Any killer custom bike builds in that time?

DAVE: I work with each client to create something new and exciting, that fits them and their needs. One of my favorites is A.J.’s cyclocross bike with hand-curved stays with a 1960’s Ford GT40 paint theme. Another is Brent’s 29er mountain bike, known as “Kermit.” Tommy’s silver and orange 29er featured in an earlier Bike Rumor article is Kermit’s build-mate – both share similar concepts in design. I hope all those riding Sarif bicycles believe they are killer.


BIKERUMOR: Say a customer gives you free reign, where do you draw your inspiration for the best projects?

DAVE: Inspiration? Curves. I like building with curves involved. Steel is a material that allows for curves that can be created by hand using simple tools. I also draw inspiration from classic cars, vintage airplanes, nature, mixing new and old approaches… Outside of that, my goal is to give my client their dream ride.


BIKERUMOR: What are you building this year that’ll draw a crowd?

DAVE: As a new builder, I’m allowed one bicycle. My 2014 NAHBS Sarif features curves, classic lines, a mix of materials, and lots of fillet brazing. I hope that my “classic meets modern” approach will draw a crowd.


BIKERUMOR: Scenario: NAHBS introduces a new category called Mashups, pairing two completely different builders to make one bike. Who’s the yin to your yang, and what kind of bike do you think you’d build?

DAVE: My style is still evolving, with an emphasis on building to meet each client’s needs and desires rather than staying within strict boundaries of one particular style. My opposite balance builder would be someone with a very established style, possibly very traditional. For example, someone who builds strictly one type of bicycle, like road only. Since I build in steel, with an aim to stainless steel and titanium in the future, someone who uses aluminum, carbon fiber, or bamboo would be the other end of the scale. I like to have curved tubes in many of the frames I build, and someone who has a very traditional style would complement my work. As for the mashup we would create… I would like to see us incorporate carbon fiber tubes into a steel or stainless steel frame. I think if the both of us enter into the build open-minded, the collaboration could be an amazing project. Who’s my partner and when do we start?

A taste of things to come…


  1. Why not make the headtube taller on the 29er “Kermit” mountain bike, if you were going to have all those spacers? It is custom after all.

    Are you routing the rear derailleur cable inside the seatstay on the last bike? That’s pretty trick.

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