Another one to watch on New Builder Row at NAHBS this year is Corey Lowe. This new builder has come from an interesting career within the industry already. He cut his teeth in framebuilding and design at Parlee before moving on to design for big industry players such as Cannondale and Specialized where he worked on bikes for riders at the highest level.
After a move took him to Seattle, he decided to build an oven and throw his hat in the independent builder ring with carbon fiber. The clean carbon frames he’s made so far are already drawing attention from established carbon builders within the community in a very positive way. Based off what we know so far, Corey Lowe is certainly a new talent to watch. We’ll definitely be keeping our eyes on where he goes from here.
BIKERUMOR: What are you bringing to NAHBS this year that you’re excited about?
COREY: I will be bringing two custom tube-to-tube carbon frames– with a clean and classic design. The construction method is brand spanking new to the industry, and allows the frames to be 100 percent carbon.
They’ll be shown raw so people can see what I mean – no filler, wrinkles, or burn through weighing you down.
BIKERUMOR: What are your current challenges in adopting and implementing new standards?
COREY: The biggest hurdle is that there isn’t an array of off-the-shelf parts available in carbon like there are for other materials. So, when new standards happen, it’s like a new puzzle — you gotta make a new mold, design new tooling, or write an ineffectual but strongly worded letter to the manufacturer who changed the standard (kidding).
BIKERUMOR: What new or upcoming standards are you excited about?
COREY: I would love to see the 1x systems get fully sorted and become standard on the road. It reduces complexity, but also allows builders like me to implement simple clean lines. I’m also curious to see Boost axle standards implemented in some manner on road/’cross bikes.
BIKERUMOR: What type of bike have your customers requested most in the past 12 months?
COREY: The biggest request I get is for disc road and ‘cross frames. I’m working on it and you will see a disc equipped Eyewater shortly! I don’t promise anybody that they are going to go faster or ride better just because the bike is custom, but I think people really love having a bike specially made for them. It’s why homemade cookies are always going to beat Chips Ahoy, you know?
BIKERUMOR: What is the next bike you’re building for yourself?
COREY: I’m already working on a plan for building matching balance bikes for my twin girls using my same build process. Of course, the girls are not due to arrive until March so I might be jumping the gun.
BIKERUMOR: …and if someone else were building your next bike for you, which builder (of all time) would you choose and why? What would it be?
COREY: If another builder were to build my next bike, it’d be Baum. I’ve always loved the clean, crisp and stylish road frames those guys put out. Sometimes, my heart sings for a well-built steel bike.
BIKERUMOR: What is your “blank check” bike?
COREY: My wife would probably say the first carbon bike I ever made was my blank check bike as she likes to remind me of how much money went into that thing. Not only that, I dedicated so much time, energy, and love into building the equipment, re-reading my engineering textbooks, perfecting the layup, and sourcing materials. But, I have to say, it was worth it. It led me to the build process I still use today.
BIKERUMOR: If you could exist in another period of framebuilding, what would it be and why?
COREY: Maybe back in the ’80s when we had a few U.S. builders, like Serotta and Calfee, making frames for the professional teams. I was a design engineer at both Cannondale and Specialized, developing bikes for the World Tour teams. I enjoyed that connection, and I would love to see frame-builders be part of that world again.
BIKERUMOR: If you had to stop building in your current material, what new material would you choose and why?
COREY: Steel, most likely. I’ve worked exclusively with carbon from when I started at Parlee until my most recent project with the Allied Cycle Works team, but steel is also gorgeous. I actually made a steel bike for my wife this past year. I just love the classic lines and straight forward design that steel lends itself too. My hope is that those principles come across in my carbon bikes.
BIKERUMOR: If your shop was burning down, what one or two tools would you grab to save? Why would you save them?
COREY: I would drag my home-built oven out of a burning building. I built and programmed this oven myself to run the proper cure cycles for different carbon laminates. It’s a beast and now the workhorse of the shop. Also, it could probably bake me a couple of meals while the shop is being re-built.
The North American Handmade Bike Show will take place from February 16th to 18th in Hartford, CT. For more information, visit the NAHBS website.