When faced with some life-changing news, entrepreneur and lov founder/creative lead/painter Nate Picklo decided that there was no time like the present to chase his dreams in cycling. lov bikes fabricates their custom carbon frames in its facility (or as Nate calls it, their “lov shack”) in Eagle, Colorado, though their clean and curvy carbon frames are put over the top by their in-house paint schemes.
Today, lov bikes is looking forward to beginning Titanium fabrication as well as strengthening the collection of artisans and collaborators that make their bikes the ultra-expressive machines that they are…
BIKERUMOR: What is your origin story? How did your company get its start?
NATE: I am very much an entrepreneurial minded individual. I thoroughly enjoy the creation and startup of new business concepts and the forming and nurturing of new brands. However, this leads to a problem of boredom when said business is up and running and my “startup” skills become no longer needed.
My wife and I started a coffee house called Yeti’s Grind 9 years ago, with it we built up a bike team and began to nurture a cycling culture around the shop. We expanded to a 2nd store in the center of Vail Village that brought about more recognition and validity to the brand and to us as the owners. The idea for a bike company was always dwelling in my mind and the opportunity to focus on it was upon me.
I have been in the cycling industry since my college days back at Baylor University where I was on the cycling team and worked at the local bike shop for 5 years. This created my love for bikes as well as a desire to improve on what was already happening in the Industry. So lov bikes was created as an outlet for my creativity. Every bike that we build is different, whether it is the frame design, material used, the paint work, and even the build kit. This means I don’t become bored with what I do every day because it is always changing, always exciting, and always new challenges.
* One more note, I am a cancer fighter. I was diagnosed with Melanoma 7 years ago and I am still battling Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma currently. This wretched disease has played a role in the creation and focus of the brand. The “life is too short” motto is something I’ve come face to face with many times. It really pushed me to create a business and brand that encompass my passions.
BIKERUMOR: How has your style changed from your first year? Are you still building what you initially set out to build?
NATE: I do not feel that much has changed in our brand or our style since we brought out our first bikes almost 4 years ago. Paint and the overall aesthetics of the bike play a big role in creating the unique bike that will roll out our doors. We knew this was a good way to pave the road for our brand and also the hardest part of the process. Out of all the hand builders out there, a small percentage of them paint their own frames in house. The difficulty is that a paint shop will not always be able to bring your ideas to life given cost and imagination limitations. If you say you want to spend $800, then you get a $800 paint job, no more, no less. However, just like frame building, when you do it yourself, you don’t put limitations on your designs or ideas because you want a finished product that is above all else. An amazing paint job also adds to the “art” of what we do, as paint is art. Paint differentiates the rider (customer) from others and allows them to be unique. Only a handful of people can look at a frame from a distance and admire the art of the frame builder, they see the paint first, and it is that initial reaction that draws them into further conversation and hopefully a future customer.
We originally started with a small order of Open Mold carbon frames from a manufacturer in Taiwan. We were able to test the brand this way. We quickly changed gears to focus on complete custom fabrication of our own products. In 2015 we did a short run of fillet brazed steel frames to break into the hand built, boutique, bespoke bicycle market. For 2016 we are offering custom carbon frames that we are fabricating in house at the lov shack. We designed our own frame, then we have individual molds machined for each tube. This allows us to offer custom sizing and geometry. We control the carbon layup for each tube which dictates how the bike will ride and feel. We are also starting a Titanium side of the brand this year, which includes some very sexy Ti/Carbon frames.
So currently we are applying the same philosophy across a variety of very high end fabricated in house frames. We have pivoted from the import concept to continue the focus of our brand on fully custom and exceptional craftsmanship. We are continually looking for further processes and changes we can make to our frames to push the boundaries of exquisite, bespoke products.
BIKERUMOR: What gets you really stoked about what you do today?
NATE: We have built up to this point in the business where other craftsmen have expressed interest in being a part of the brand and adding their skills to our vision. A major goal of lov bikes is to build a company that creates jobs and long-term careers for the amazing artists, designers, and fabricators in the bike realm. We believe that where we are located in the Vail Valley creates a lifestyle outside of work that is a draw to employees. We want to form a family of skilled individuals that love what they do everyday and love where they live. My stoke about what we are doing right now is in the fulfillment of others’ dreams, not just the customers and the product, but as I stated above, in the potential craftsmen that can work at their dream job in the place of their dreams.
BIKERUMOR: What’s the cool thing you’re bringing to the show this year?
NATE: We always have great paintwork to show off, but we are bringing a Ti/Carbon fat bike to the show that we think will stand out. There will be less paint on the bike to let the materials speak for themselves, but color will find its way.
We have a fillet brazed True Temper S3 steel road bike with an amazing build kit going in the Campy booth that will catch some attention.
We will have a fillet brazed 650b mtb SingleSpeed with Gates Carbon Belt drive that has a one of a kind Louis Vuitton paint scheme.
My favorite might be the filet brazed steel frame with a carbon seat tube and Integrated Seat Post. It will feature the new SRAM Red eTap wireless gruppo, ENVE wheel set, and as aways custom painted… It will also have a matching Silca Super Pista Ultimate pump.
BIKERUMOR: What advice would you give someone wanting to do what you do?
NATE: Creating and growing any business takes time, patience, and perseverance. You have to have a clear vision of the business model you wish to build and maintain a strong backbone to follow that vision throughout. Be mindful if you need to adapt and change course when necessary, but don’t let others push you to do what they think would be better. If they have such a good idea they would be doing it and doing it successfully, but that is hardly the case. Surround yourself with people smarter and more experienced than you. Above all, do what you love and do it damn well!