It is difficult to fathom that the builder of the thorough and put-together Randonneur bikes of Chapman Cycles got his start in flatland and racing BMX. I certainly did a double-take. But his diverse disciplinary background speaks to both how long Brian Chapman’s mind has been in the game and how well-rounded he is in the product. With goals fixed on working in the industry Brian had his dreams dashed to find, after finishing his engineering degree in ’97, that then local manufacturer, Cannondale, wasn’t hiring. After working a “real” job for a few years, Brian found himself apprenticing with Chris Bull of Circle A Cycles.
In 2011, Chapman Cycles was born to build “Modern frames for vintage souls” (as the website states). While the frames and builds seem conservative given the source, they are packed with compelling and sometimes flashy details sure to get fans of the genre stoked.
BIKERUMOR: What are you bringing to NAHBS this year that you’re excited about?
BRIAN: I’m a first time attendee, so I’m coming with as many [bikes] as I can fit in a 10×10 booth. I think it’s a bit ambitious but whatever. We all make mistakes sometimes.
BIKERUMOR: What are your current challenges in adopting and implementing new standards?
BRIAN: Hmmm, I guess I had to get new taps and an adapter for my frame fixture for T47 bottom brackets. That and thru-axle fixture adapter mods. Good times. That’s it, I think. I prefer to embrace existing standards for the most part.
BIKERUMOR: What new or upcoming standards are you excited about?
BRIAN: Not really excited about any new standards to tell you the truth. Can we go back to 10-speed cassettes and slotted dropouts now?
BIKERUMOR: What type of bike have your customers requested most in the past 12 months?
BRIAN: Touring/randonneur with custom racks/dynamo/lighting/integrated pump/etc.
BIKERUMOR: What is the next bike you’re building for yourself?
BRIAN: Super light fendered road randonneur thingy to replace my road bike. If all goes as planned, it will be at the show.
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?
BRIAN: Maybe Les Ephgrave or Jack Taylor. I would’ve loved to have had the experience of getting a bike from the Taylor brothers.
BIKERUMOR: What is your “blank check” bike?
BRIAN: Woody Itson’s gold Hutch Trick Star.
BIKERUMOR: If you could exist in another period of framebuilding, what would it be and why?
BRIAN: I’m perfectly content right here and now. Although 1897 seemed like a pretty innovative year when you go back and look at bicycle patents.
BIKERUMOR: If you had to stop building in your current material, what new material would you choose and why?
BRIAN: Carbon seems like fun but I hope to continue with what I’m doing.
BIKERUMOR: If your shop was burning down, what one or two tools would you grab to save? Why would you save them?
BRIAN: It’ll be so sad to see it burn. I’d try and roll my frame alignment table out the door but in reality I’d probably just cry.
The North American Handmade Bike Show will take place from February 16th to 18th in Hartford, CT. For more information, visit the NAHBS website.