hampsten cycles fabrication shop

While Oregon seems to be mecca for custom frame building, there is no shortage of exemplary builders located throughout out the North West. For those in Seattle, one of the best options is Hampsten Cycles. Over the fifteen years they’ve been in business, their frame construction has been subcontracted out to various industry luminaries including Kent Eriksen, Parlee, and Moots, but they’ve recently brought everything under one roof.

Today, all Hampsten Cycle frames are built in house by Max Kullaway, who has welded thousands of frames for high profile builders including Merlin and Seven Cycles, and fabricates his own bikes under the name 333Fab

During a recent trip through the PNW, I stopped by their small workshop to get a closer look at some of the beautiful bikes Hamspten cycles produces from a two car garage in a quiet residential neighborhood in Northern Seattle.

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Hampsten bikes are made to order from aluminum, steel, or titanium.

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Pieces like bottom brackets and dropouts are sorted from Paragon Machine Works and welded in house.

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While a two car garage is barely large enough to house my collection of toys, with careful planing, Hampsten has neatly fit all the equipment necessary to build complete frames in their modest workshop.

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While most of the walls are sparsely decorated, a handful of posters and dozens of stickers ad character.

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Once the frames are welded, they’re carefully checked for tolerances and prepped, before being sent to paint.

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Hampten generally sticks to solid color schemes, but they also produce 7-Eleven Edition Team Bikes (both the Huffy-style and the Eddy Merckx version ) for clients. 

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Costumers can order just a frame and fork or have the bike completely (or partially) built up – including custom wheels.

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Hampsten currently offers several different “models,” which can be customized any number of different ways, but they specialize in classic road frames.

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Founded by Giro d’Italia winner Andy Hampsten and his brother Steve, you might be surprised to learn the frames don’t learn towards the racier side of the spectrum. Rather, they’re aimed at riders who want something with a more relaxed geometry, that’s capable of tackling long days in the saddle.

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For those interested in a more race inspired geometry, Steve Hampten has created a new project he calls Maglia Rosa. With fewer custom option and an emphasis on performance, wait times for these bikes should be much shorter than for Hampten Cycle Frames.

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Coming up with a brand name and identity for the fledgling product was a struggle, but Steve really wanted to inject some of that Italian feel that both he and brother Andy have fallen in love with. After playing with dozens of names, he struck upon the name Maglia ROSA after reading a book on the Giro by Herbie Sykes.

To inject the Italian racing heritage in visually, they created a font that is similar to the one used in the newspaper which sponsors the Giro, and utilized pink accents throughout. For those unfamiliar, pink is to the Giro what yellow is to the Tour de France.

Other subtle graphic design elements include writing the brand name with the same format used for athletes in Italy – with the first letter of the first word capitalized and the second word in all caps.

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Wait time for the performance oriented frames is currently in the neighborhood of 3-4 months.

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These water bottle cages are amazing.

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Also in the future for the Maglia ROSA brand is carbon. While Hamsten Cycles has been hard at work developing a process for building custom carbon tube to tube frame sets that will utilize US sourced materials from ENVE, those frames are still a ways off from production.
So they’ve turned to an overseas factory to construct a line of affordable monocoque carbon frames.

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Produced in the same factory as Jamis, Fuji, and others, these carbon frame sets were designed and built with input from tubing giant Columbus.

Hampsten Cycles Group Photo Steve Max Adam

Special thanks to (L to R) Max, Adam, and Steve for showing me the digs.

 Learn more about Hampsten Cycles by visiting their website here.

10 COMMENTS

  1. I just met with Steve last week to fit a MAX bike for me. It will be my new rain bike (it’s a Seattle-Portland-Vancouver type of bike). Steve knows his stuff and it was cool to see the shop.

  2. The water bottle cages are made by Nitto. They are both the model “R” (race) cage and each is made of stainless steel. The cage weighs around 53 grams, per the Nitto website. They’re expensive, but are like jewelry. The high quality helps you get over the expensive initial purchase price. I’ve been using them for around ten years now, and I don’t regret the purchases at all. I have one “R” bottle cage on each of my two bikes.

  3. Casey: the typography is from House Industries. They do typefaces (fonts to most people) for some pretty big names including Eames furniture and Richard Sachs.

  4. Actually, Casey Robertson of Superissimo fame did the Maglia ROSA logo and typeface – thanks, Casey! House provided us the our script typeface and Paul Barnes did the block type as well as redrew our boar. We’re so lucky…

  5. Yeah. The fully enclosed wire water bottle cages on the blue Maglia Rosa bike look so beautiful. I would love to have some, but since it doesn’t look like you can squash the cages to make it hold the bottles more tightly, I’m not sure how well these ultra good looking cages would do over rougher road surfaces like Paris Roubaix type of cobblestones. I like the water bottle cages looks, but I don’t want to eject any bottles once when riding over the pave.

    And why isn’t Andy Hampsten in any of these pictures? It’s cool that his bro Steve is representing the company, but the real brand imaging is via Andy. That’s what people associate with these bikes. I remember Andy riding on La Vie Claire with Lemond, the on 7-eleven, and who could forget the famous wins in Italy and at Alpe d’Huez.

  6. with all due respect Ajax, most folks buying Hampstens know of Andy but are buying from Steve. Andy is a retired bike racer. Steve runs a bike company including those specs and design.

    Steve makes it happen.

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