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Race To NAHBS! ADHD Interview: 11 NAHBS-Related Questions For Ellis Cycles

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The big North American Handmade Bicycle Show is just a couple days away and we’ve got a few more interviews to pack in before we start bringing you updates from the show itself. Today we’ve got Dave “Ellis is my middle name” Wages of Ellis Cycles. Dave comes off as a really nice guy…I find it hard to picture him beating up girl scouts.

11 NAHBS-Related Questions:

BR: Are your plans for NAHBS a secret, or can you tell us a little bit about what you’re showing?
DW: I’ve been posting progress pics of my NAHBS bikes over the last couple months, so no, no top secret stuff here. I am pretty excited about the mix of bikes I’ve got to show this year, I’m bringing a 29’er, a couplered Di2 bike, a really special randonneur, and a fairly straightforward road bike with SRAM Red. I’ll also have a “raw”, unpainted frame and a painted frame only. Should be plenty to see!

BR: What about the booth, anything extra-special-crazy in the booth department?
DW: From a booth setup standpoint, it shouldn’t be too much different from last year. I built some really special display stands last year, and they’re definitely not “single-use”, so I plan to use them for a few years at least.

BR: What do you see as the hot trend at NAHBS this year?
DW: Hot trends? Well, I think that the randonneur scene keeps picking up steam, so maybe that, and there seem to be less “crazy” bikes and more bikes that are truly representative of what builders do on a day to day basis. I think that’s good.

BR: What is the lamest frame building trend ever?
DW: Lamest trend? Extra crap brazed onto the bike that has no purpose. (ducking!) I’ve been there and I didn’t like it!

BR: What is the most challenging or horrible thing you’ve had to do as a frame builder?
DW:  I suppose the most challenging thing I’ve done as a builder was to go from a fully automated shop like Waterford and Serotta (where I got my start) to a very analog shop with very little machinery. There are a few tasks like turning fork crown races that are just so quick and easy with a lathe, but in the end, I’d need to turn an awful lot of races to make that investment pay off.

BR: What is your favorite type of bike to build?
DW: I don’t build them very often, but I love track bikes because they’re so clean and simple. You know there aren’t going to be any cables or other stuff obscuring the work, and I really sweat the little details. (not that I don’t sweat them on geared bikes!) My integrated Di2 frames are similar in that all the wiring is internal, so they’re probably my second fav.

BR: As a frame builder is there anything you absolutely will not to? Like a not-without-a-gun-to-my-head type thing?
DW:  I don’t do replicas!

BR: Sum up your entire bicycle building philosophy in one word or less. Kidding. How about three words?
DW: Funny you ask, this started as a model name, but I think it captures my philosophy pretty well, “Modern Classic”.

BR: If you weren’t building bikes, what would you be doing?
DW: Wow, I can’t really imagine doing anything else.

BR: Who is your bike-building idol? Who do you look up to?
DW: Dave Kirk is the guy who taught me how to build at Serotta, so that’s a no brainer. I’m also a huge fan of Peter Weigle, awesome builder, super nice guy!

BR: This one is important. Of the people showing at NAHBS, who is the last frame builder you would ever want to fight? Like physically.
DW:  I’m not sure how much he still practices, but last I checked, Dave K was a black belt, and he’s an inch taller than me, (I’m 6’5″), so that’s pretty terrifying! I hear Don Ferris was a Marine, so also not someone I’d mess with. I usually like to pick fights with Girl Scouts, I think my chances are pretty good there! 😉

For more information visit the Ellis Cycles Website.

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13 years ago

what the hell happened to the build kit for that yellow bike
Campy shift levers
Shimano crank with FSA rings
Sram Rear derailleur
Lastly, cross tires and road brakes and bottle cages…. so its a custom touring bike?

Dave Wages
13 years ago

Hey Jonah,
Good eye on that build, it was a bike I put together with parts I had lying around and I wouldn’t recommend that “grouppo” to anyone else. As for what that bike is, it’s my “DRB” Dirt Road Bike. It’s got long reach brakes for wide tire clearance but pretty standard road geometry with slightly longer chainstays a low bb and a bit more fork rake. I’ll have the 2nd generation of that frame on display at NAHBS, a XL tubed frame designed for mini V-brakes. C’mon by and check it out!


Tom Byrnes
Tom Byrnes
13 years ago

From Austin: Dave Wages’ bikes at NAHBS are stunning!! What elegant “modern classics”. His display stands are beautiful pieces of furniture.

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