We broke the story about HIA Velo back in August 2016. The upstart brand, led by Tony Karklins, purchased the assets of Guru Cycles and moved the equipment to Little Rock, Arkansas, with big plans to reinvent not just how carbon bicycles were made, but what could be made.
Karklins, who ran Orbea USA for a number of years and has been in the industry for some time, told us “It’s not just about making it in America, it’s about making it better here.” Using domestically sourced materials. It’s Mitsubishi carbon tow that’s prepregged in Irvine, CA, using Newport 301 resin. It’s also about offering options. Lots of paint choices, and there’ll be 12 sizes (six actual frame sizes with two head tube heights for each, with the taller one being 2cm taller – 47 to 61cm). It’s also about transparency – there won’t be any secret rooms, they’ll show the entire process- and user friendliness, with a BSA threaded bottom bracket, refined cable management with easy internal runs, and a lifetime warranty plus repair service if you wreck it. The repairs, if it’s user error that necessitated it, will generally be a couple hundred bucks since that’s what it actually really costs and won’t void your warranty.
The other big ingredient (and big news) is their signing on as the exclusive bicycle manufacturer to use Innegra high modulus polypropylene fibers. Innegra is made ion Greenville, South Carolina, and is added to HIA’s carbon fibers to prevent the frame from breaking apart in a crash. Or, more importantly, it’ll keep the frame together if you get a hidden crack, it’ll allow the frame to slowly reveal the danger zone rather than a sudden, catastrophic failure. Beyond the safety aspects, it’s flexible, so it’s used in higher quantities in areas like the chainstays and fork legs to add compliance and comfort to the bike.
The video above shows how it holds things together. The first card is layered carbon/Innegra/carbon, the second is Innegra/carbon/Innegra. Note that neither actually comes completely apart despite my best efforts. Potential trolls should also note that except for severe impacts, your tubes are not ever likely to be subjected to bending forces like this. This is an extreme example to show material properties. Also, frames will have many more layers than three.
Karklins said Innegra adds about 25-30 grams to the frame. They’re currently at an 875g frame weight for size 56. Fork weight is claimed around 325g and will also be made in house.
Logos are minimal, with the Allied logo on the seat tube being aluminum that’s flush with the paint finish. The Eagle logo covers the ports when the bike’s equipped with SRAM eTAP, but for mechanical drivetrains, the wings will flare up to act as cable stops.
Small touches like the Eagle on other cable stops helps brand it without being obnoxious.
As for this brilliant chrome finish, they purchased CyclArt and relocated Jim Cunningham from San Diego, CA, to Little Rock, AR. The process is something they’re working on as a stock option, should be available in about six months. It’s a $600 paint upgrade option because it requires an absolutely perfect finish and about two days of work. They say it’s also surprisingly lightweight. Their goal is to introduce a new paint option every week, though, so more affordable looks should be forthcoming. The Frames are made and stored raw, then painted and assembled on demand.
“When I got into the industry, every brand made their own bikes,” said Karklins. “Now, it’s a sea of sameness, with everybody doing virtually the exact same thing often in the exact same places.”
This first model is called Alfa, and it’s their top level road bike from which everything else will be derived. Retail is $2,700 for frame, fork and Cane Creek headset. Their website’s build configurator with all options will be online next week. Look for SRAM and Shimano equipped complete bikes with various upgrade/downgrade options to suit your needs.
A gravel-ready disc brake version will launch at NAHBS that’ll hold up to a 40c tire. This Alfa road bike can take up to a 28c with Dura-Ace brakes, but basically will hold as large of a tire as your modern road bike rim caliper brakes can accommodate.