Gregory White came into framebuilding by accident- literally. When his cinematography career in Hollywood was put on hold due to a workplace injury, Greg found that his skills from working in the entertainment industry and passion for cycling could align for something Magic. He starting building frames.
Years on, Gregory is settled with his torch in Bend, Oregon, brazing beautiful lugged steel bikes (though he welds too). He hasn’t looked back.
BIKERUMOR: You were working in Hollywood as a cinematographer… what made you take a leap to bicycles?
GREG: It’s ironic to have taken this path. So, I am an ex-bike racer type. I raced in the US for a few different teams like Merrill Lynch, Schroeder Iron, plus others in Indiana and the midwest before I moved west, and then was very fortunate to have been asked to race on an Italian Team, Fugazza Vidale, that was based out of Biella, Italy. My last year of racing was 2001.
Regarding working in Motion Picture… I was working on a job for Sony Pictures in Las Vegas at the Treasure Island resort. Unfortunately, in about 2011 I was involved in a workplace accident where a camera crane crashed, threw me off, and 2,500 lbs landed in my lap. I injured both my knees and was out of work for 1 ½ years or so due to the injuries. I was bored to death and needed something to do. I thought, I know how to use a torch, I can “weld.” I have always loved the old school lugged bikes… I’m gonna make bikes. I started down that path and have never looked back. Eventually, I saw the head of the Camera Guild at an event. I walked up to him and announced my official retirement from camera work. That was about 4 years ago.
BIKERUMOR: Why the name “Magic Cycle Werks?” Can you talk about “Magic?” Your spelling of the word “Werks?”
GREG: When I started the company in 2011, I was running names through my head. My last name is White, which is very boring and has no flair at all. When I worked in motion pictures, I had a loan out corp (renting equipment I owned back to productions). It was named White Magic Entertainment. In the process of sounding out names I thought of White Magic Bikes, which sucks. I eventually settled on Magic Cycles which I thought sounded pretty cool and whimsical. I decided to choose Magic Cycle Werks as the company name. The Werks comes from the German spelling of works, or Werke in German. I have been speaking the language in some form from high school to present and thought it was a good way to separate myself from the others. Although what I find mostly is that people always spell it wrong…
Magic? Um The original name for the first bike I built, road bikes, was the Vanish. Thus, Magic cycles Vanish… I thought it was catchy if a bit corny but Hey? So, when we (MCW) started making other models, I began naming the bikes for my Scottish and Welsh heritage. So now every bike has a name which directly related to that heritage. Each version (bike) also has a story behind every name.
BIKERUMOR: What would your “blank check” frameset be for a customer? If a customer turned you loose with a blank check and told you to build something ridiculous, what would it be?
GREG: Wow!? Huh… I really love “Classic” lines on bikes… meaning Lugs. There is something sexy about them that just excites me. “Blank Check…” I almost built something for the show that was a version of blank check. I think for fun maybe a frame with stainless steel lugs and dropouts (polished) for sure. And most likely, stainless steel tubes as well. I have this crazy idea to make one of these with Campy EPS and make it uber sexy and off the hook gorgeous! I ran out of time to get it done, but I may still do it at some point.
Joining tubing…. I mostly build with lugs. I can fillet braze but I really love lugs. There is just something sexy about them. You can do contrasting colors with them that really set them apart and feature them. They are just “Classic” and “Timeless.” I love it. I mostly use 56% silver (harris). I have tried others’ silver but for some reason I really do like the Harris products. I guess it’s just what I am used to? Here in Bend we have this local welding supply store that I frequent. They order me gasflux paste flux and harris, plus a few other things. It’s really great to have the ability to support a local small business.
Something I have been playing with recently is carving lugs. I have a few prototypes floating around the shop, but I haven’t yet landed on something that I am happy with. So, I keep experimenting with ideas.
BIKERUMOR: If you could only listen to a playlist of five songs while you build, what would those five songs be?
GREG: This is a good one! I have these playlists setup in Apple Music I listen too so much if it were a cassette or album it would be worn out! I mostly listed to anything by Florence and the Machine, Elbow, Bastille, and Coldplay. I also sometimes listen to classic rock, ie. 1970 and 80’s stuff. Van Halen, Aerosmith, of course some Ozzy, you get the idea… Mostly anything without commercials. The only thing I just can’t listen to is Rap or Hip/hop. Its just not my style.
BIKERUMOR: Before you started building bikes, what was your favorite bike? How did you ride?
GREG: I remember when I got out of high school, I was fascinated by riding and racing. I remember watching the Tour de France on CBS when they had a special show on Saturday and Sunday. I was mesmerized by watching Greg Lemond and company in the race. Also, growing up in Indiana, I remember seeing the Little 500 at Indiana University. “Breaking Away” was such a great film and still is!
My first “racing” bike was a Raleigh Technium frame. It was horribly flexy frame. Bonded Aluminum and such. I had old Schwinn bikes as a kid, although I really don’t remember what model… one was blue. I do remember it was way too big for me. I really didn’t care. It had the shifters on the stem and we used to cruise around on them everywhere. I remember this one time we were jumping 10-speeds up and off this dirt mound. My best friend at the time went first and he totally ate shit! I was laughing so hard when I saw him crash. At that moment, I didn’t realize he ended up breaking his collar bone. So as he was on the ground in pain I was laughing at him. Many years later when I broke my collar bone I was reminded of that. Anyway, I grew up around farming so we rode out in the country around my hometown, Greenfield. When we were young we had one rule in the summer time. We had to be indoors when it was dark, which in the summer was around 9pm or so. We spent most of our time outside causing trouble.
BIKERUMOR: What framebuilder (that you do not know personally) do you admire and why do you admire them?
GREG: I would have to say Richard Sachs. He is this guy that has forgotten more about frame building than I think I know. I have never really talked to him. I have only corresponded via email for buying lugs, etc., from him. But, the other thing is that he is true to his ideals and makes what he makes. I like that. And, he builds with Lugs. I have used his lugs on quite a few bikes. In fact, my road bike is made with his Newvex Lugset.
BIKERUMOR: Which builder would you most like to collaborate with on a project? What would that project be?
GREG: This is a toughie! If I could pick anyone? I would say Steve Potts or maybe Carl Strong. Both of those guys are great people and they make some awesome bikes. I follow each of them on Instagram and Facebook. Their bikes and methods are something to aspire to.
It would be fun to build a MTB with Steve. I love his ideas and designs. When I was designing the Caderyn (MTB) I asked him to look at my design and give me feedback. I sent him the drawing and he gave me his thoughts. I will never forget his kindness in that. And Carl, I would love to learn to become a better TIG welder. I really do suck at it and I really don’t enjoy it. Making a road bike with him would be a true honor. And, both Steve and Carl are amazing TIG welders. I could learn so much from both of them. Just being a fly on the wall in their shops would be awesome too.
BIKERUMOR: What is your main bike at the moment? What is that your main ride?
GREG: My main ride is my road bike (Aeron). I also have the prototype Caderyn (MTB) that I ride on the trails or off road. I will never sell it to anyone. It really is a version 1 of a frame. I need to build myself another Esker AR. Every time I make one for me or a demo it gets sold. It is on the list but, I really am the last person to get a bike. All our clients get them before I get one.
BIKERUMOR: How do you test or validate your product so that you know you are building the best product for your customer?
GREG: For starters, I am the crash test dummy! Every crazy idea I have for a bike/frame model is first built in my size, and I build it up with whatever parts I have in the shop. I don’t even have it painted. I just go ride it and see if I can break it! Seriously! I do things that I did when I was 12 years old riding bikes back in Indiana. I jump it off logs, stairs, anything that could cause it to fail. You name it I have probably done it. My goal is to treat the frame like it is a toothpick and see if I can snap it into pieces! If it holds up to my antics It must be good enough for someone that will ride it like a normal bike.
When I first started making bikes though, I wasted quite a few lug sets and test tubes to see if I was getting good adhesion and silver flowing through the joints. I would saw them apart and check how I was doing and really test things that way.
Sometimes there are fuck ups… they happen. I have even stopped working on a frame because I wasn’t happy with how it was turning out. I scrapped it and started over from the beginning. It matters to me. It has to be as perfect as possible for my clients. They are paying a fair amount of money for a frame/bike. So they expect it to perform as advertised. And it has to look as beautiful as it performs.
BIKERUMOR: What do you put on your hotdog?
GREG: When I actually eat them? Classic dogs rule! Brown mustard and onions…Ketchup on dogs is crap!