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Road to NAHBS 2017: Chris McGovern of McGovern Cycles

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Photos used with permission of Chris McGovern

As a lifelong enthusiast with experience racing, wrenching, and coaching at the highest levels of our sport, framebuilding represents a next level of relationship between Chris McGovern and bicycles. Though he started building in titanium about two years ago, Chris switched material emphasis and made his NAHBS debut last year with a clean carbon ‘cross bike.

A year on, the work coming out of McGovern Cycles is leaner and cleaner due to constant process and product improvements. As he continues to “chase proficiency” with his work, Chris takes his product to another level through collaboration with materials engineers and a blend of field and destructive lab testing. Between his approach to development and his continued involvement in all facets of cycling otherwise, it’s safe to say Chris McGovern is a new talent to watch in the North American framebuilding community.

BIKERUMOR: Last year at your new builder table, you displayed a clean, blue carbon frame. How has your style and emphasis evolved from that bike to what you will be bringing to NAHBS this year?

CHRIS: I think the biggest change in my finished product would be the shaping at the joints. I am not solely using epoxy to shape the joints anymore. Now there is less material at the joints and the material that I do use has more purpose. I think it looks cleaner and the revised method builds a stronger joint.

BIKERUMOR: How have you evolved technically?

CHRIS: I am still chasing proficiency through repeated process or refinement of said process, so I guess I am always evolving technically. Learning more about my materials, tools and processes every time I enter the shop.

BIKERUMOR: You are hella involved with big deal bike racing… as a kind of a big deal character. What is your current relationship with the sport?

CHRIS: Yup, still involved in the sport, not racing so much now a days, but coaching private athletes and I had a gig as the US National Team coach this cross season. I was also wrenching for Tobin Ortenblad all season.

BIKERUMOR: How does being involved with racing at this level affect how you conceive, design, and build bikes?

CHRIS: I am a dork, so I take a lot away from what I see in races, how people use their bikes, how mechanics work on bikes and how the industry does weird things for the sake of marketing… I mean I built myself a bike after retiring from professional racing because I was never happy with what I had to ride. Am I picky? Weird dimensions? I don’t know, I do know that the 1988 Della Santa LeMond road bike I had rode better than any bike I was every “sponsored” by.

BIKERUMOR: You were making integrated handlebars last year. What other work have you done outside of building frames?

CHRIS: Carbon is a great material to build parts with. Bar/stem combo, dropouts, cable stops… but the biggest thing I did this past year with some help from my man Cody Leuck, was building a molded BB/chainstay specific to disc brake cross bikes. I will have one at the show to display. I am also building some light weight back country skis, does that count?

BIKERUMOR: If you could only listen to a playlist of five songs while you build, what would those five songs be?

CHRIS: High on Fire, “Death Is This Communion”
Hot Water Music, State of Grace”
Bad Religion, “I Want to Conquer the World”
Lord Ellis, “Ghosts of the Klammoth”
Alkaline Trio, “I, Pessimist”

BIKERUMOR: What framebuilder (that you do not know personally) do you admire and why do you admire them?

CHRIS: Luis Blanc of Duende bikes in Spain. He is always posting some of the cleanest looking bikes with some very clean lay up solutions. Always “borrowing” from him. Plus the guy built a bike for Pedro Delgado! Come on!

BIKERUMOR: Which builder would you most like to collaborate with on a project? What would that project be?

CHRIS: Whit Johnson of Meriwether Cycles. I think a fat bike of Titanium, maybe some carbon too, that could carry skis, get me back further into the mountains to gain access to more skiing or high traverses.

BIKERUMOR: What unpopular opinion do you have about the cycling community?

CHRIS: I think the “community” is too quick to consume the latest and greatest marketed “innovation” the simplicity of the bike is what gives it such beauty. I don’t think it needs to be reinvented or “1 up’ed” every 3 months

BIKERUMOR: What is your main bike at the moment?

CHRIS: Carbon cross bike with Paul Mini Motos.

BIKERUMOR: Why is that your main ride?

CHRIS: Cross bikes…I live on a dirt road. I can get to town on dirt, gravel and single track. There is sooooo much terrain here I just swap tires and gearing.

BIKERUMOR: How do you test or validate your work so that you know you are building the best product for your customer?

CHRIS: So I don’t sell anything I haven’t ridden myself. If someone wants something I haven’t pounded the crap out of I would send it off to Dave Bohm, he has this machine he built that is crazy. I also use two materials engineers for all of my design. I don’t mess around with this stuff. It’s built to be ridden hard.

BIKERUMOR: What do you put on your hotdog?

CHRIS: Boring Hot Dog guy: Veganaise and Catsup. Don’t judge me.


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7 years ago

Another fun article! You should do one on Jen Green, the jeweler out of Philly who makes most of the custom head badges for these builders. Keep the great interviews comming!

7 years ago

Thanks so much for including the question about testing. I would love to see the test machine that Dave Bohm uses. I tried some searching but only saw results for BMD Bohemia test machines, which I assume is a coincidence. https://youtu.be/ymMOaruLmuY

I haven’t really seen a non destructive test protocol that I like. Will be cool to get some prospective from all these NAHBS interviews.

7 years ago
Reply to  jasonmiles31

Most of the industry follows ISO testing. There are 3rd party labs that offer the service but I imagine most custom guys cant afford the time or money to make a bunch of frames for ISO testing.

Cody Leuck
Cody Leuck
7 years ago

Loving this. Great stuff

7 years ago

I have a question for @Chris Are you saying you do NDS/stress/load and or fatigue on the actual frame you send to the customer or on a sample including what ever running changes are introduced?

Gpod looking bikes none the less.

7 years ago

Never heared about Chris, but totaly agree with his answers, about the latest “innovations” and main ride!
keep riding 😉

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