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Circa bonds laser etched graphics & anodizations on their unique alloy frames

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All images c. Circa Cycles

Builder Rich Fox toiled for four years to bring Circa Cycles to market, and this past spring we saw the fruits of that labor for the first time at NAHBS. His bonded aluminum road bikes stood out for their unique construction method that fully modernized an old technique. Now, he’s found new ways to take full advantage of it in ways welded and brazed bikes simply can’t do.

Since his tubes are bonded into lugs, there’s no heat process to deform or discolor the metal. That means his tubes can be anodized before construction. And, turns out, so much more…

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The Circa Icon PDX is a new “stock” option that gets iconic Portland landmarks, memes and themes laser etched onto the tubes. The laser etching itself isn’t new, but the ability to do it 360º around the tubes is.

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Since the tubes are anodized prior to assembly, each one can be a different color, and the laser etching can go virtually anywhere. And it’s permanent.

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The Icon PDX was made for the 2016 Portland Bikes & Brew Fest, but this bike above was their first custom build with the new process. It’s called Leaves of Grass and has the text of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass etched onto the top tube. The customer installed an extension to turn it into a cargo bike for hauling his kids around.

RideCirca.com

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17 Comments
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Cheese
Cheese
6 years ago

I love the etched anodized look but am not a fan of the odd looking 1.125 headset fit. He must be having a tough time getting reasonable turn times out of Portland anodizing shops lately.

Greg
Greg
6 years ago
Reply to  Cheese

I didn’t see the headset til you said something. Ew.

richwfox
richwfox
6 years ago
Reply to  Cheese

Hi Cheese. Can you explain your anodizing shop comment?

Cheese
Cheese
6 years ago
Reply to  richwfox

In the last year or so lead times have gone from a couple of days to a week plus. That’s probably more time than it takes you to bond the frame and build the bike.

richwfox
richwfox
6 years ago
Reply to  Cheese

Thanks for clarifying. 3-10 days turnaround for anodizing is quite acceptable for us compared to the costs and timelines typically associated with paint. In some instances, we’ve gone from customer order to complete bike in as little as 14 days.

Dave
Dave
6 years ago

I liked it from the NAHBS article, and I like it still. I would love to give one of these a shot. The laser etching treatment is just an added bonus. I’m impressed with the willingness to give bonded AL another shot.

Pricing?

Dave
Dave
6 years ago
Reply to  Dave

Never mind, found it. Frame and fork for $1995

richwfox
richwfox
6 years ago
Reply to  Dave

Hi Dave- Our standard 2-color frame w/ fork starts at $1,995. The Icon PDX frame w/ fork (the pink+black one with the laser graphics) starts at $2,495.

anon
6 years ago

The design aesthetic seems to have no discernible direction behind it. If I wanted a random wall of text I’d read bike blogs more often.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
6 years ago

Love the look of these but I’m really curious about the bonding. I’ve seen plenty of debonded frames of old, I’m sure they tested well but time failed them. Mostly, I’m wondering if the bond will fail before the aluminum fatigues. The headset thing would look odd on any other bike but I think it sorta works with their lugs. Also, no frame weights?

Chris
Chris
6 years ago
Reply to  Veganpotter

Bonding metals is a pretty tried and true process. If you’re uncomfortable with it you probably shouldn’t fly an any commercial airliners! 😉

Frame weight isn’t going to be like compared to a composite frame. Then again if you think 1 pound makes a difference you’re fool. Knocking a pound off the frame still amounts to a total weight savings of well under 1%.

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
6 years ago
Reply to  Chris

Weight is a cumulative issue. I ride a custom, coupled Ti bike with red shifters, red rear mech and a rival crank because I don’t care that much. I could have gotten a lighter bike for less than half the price. A pound of body weight doesn’t hurt you as much as a pound of bike weight. That pound of bodyweight is either muscle(provides power), fat(energy), or excess water(extra hydration). An extra pound on your bike is like carrying a spare, small water bottle for a teammate.

That said, I’ve been in the industry for 10 years and have seen plenty of the bonded Treks(not the carbon bikes with aluminum lugs) fail along with two Raleigh Technium frames which were aluminium and steel.

blah blah blah
blah blah blah
6 years ago
Reply to  Chris

dont you mean 10% or thats a 100 pound bike

Chris
Chris
6 years ago
Reply to  blah blah blah

Nope. 1%. What you’re failing to account for is the fact that bikes don’t power themselves. When you’re talking about weight there’s the bike but also the rider, their clothes, water bottles, etc, etc. Add all that up and knocking off a pound is still well under 1%.

richwfox
richwfox
6 years ago
Reply to  Veganpotter

Thanks for appreciating our work! The frame is 4 lbs. As built, the Icon PDX bike shown weighs in at 18 lbs.

Dylan
Dylan
6 years ago
Reply to  Veganpotter

My 1990 Raleigh Technium Chill is still my daily commuter. With 26 years and somewhere between 40000-50000km on it there is no sign of the bonds failing.
I did about 150km/wk commuting through 1991-1995, plus weekend MTB rides and fully loaded touring. For the next few years it saw little use as my commute was too long and ugly to be pleasant by bike. Then about 80km/week for another couple of years from 2000-2002, before I got a job in an office with no bike parking or showers for a while. Since 2004 my commute is much shorter, so I only do around 1000km/year on this bike. Even though it’s a long time since I have used this bike for proper mountain biking, it still gets punished occasionally towing 35kg of trailer + kids on dirt road tours (don’t have a through axle adapter to attach the trailer to my carbon FS bike:)

Veganpotter
Veganpotter
6 years ago
Reply to  Dylan

I’ve got 90,000 MILES on my Ti Seven. It still rides like new. I’ve seen bonded frames that apeared to have little use get debonded, and yes, I’ve seen Ti bikes from reputable companies crack and not from crashes. Some bikes just last longer than others(some don’t), even if they were made on the same assembly line.

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