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…
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.
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.
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.