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Small Builder Focus – Winter Bicycles

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Perusing the various Flickr pages covering the Oregon Manifest handmade bike show, I found a few brands I’d never heard of and thought I’d share some of the cooler ones with you.  First up, Winter Bicycles.

Shown above is their Track frame called the Whip.  If you can see past the day-glo pink, check out the integrated seat tube…the first steel one I’ve seen, sort of retro/modern tech.

Winter Bicycles is based in Eugene, OR, and builds full custom bikes from steel, selecting the tubes based on the rider’s specs, desires and goals.  They also make custom forks, stems, racks and other fittings.  Get the LD on the brand, the builder and some more cool pics when you read “more“…

Winter Cycle’s Randonee randonneur bike (above) comes with a front rack and fenders.  The Mountain Touring Bicycle (below) is really something unique.


The following questions are answered by Eric Estlund, Winter’s founder and owner (and frame builder, office manager, janitor, etc.).
BIKERUMOR: What year was Winter Bicycles founded?  What motivated you to start your own brand?
ERIC: Winter Bicycles is a new company that I started in mid 2008. I’ve been involved in the bicycle and outdoor industries in lots off different capacities including education, advocacy, mechanic work, retail and fabrication. I have a professional background building for another Oregon bicycle manufacturer. I also have a metal working and art background. Starting my own company was a natural next step and allows me to pursue my own build style while working directly with a customer to meet their riding needs. 
BR: Approximately how many bikes have you built since opening?
EE: Winter is just getting going, but I’d estimate about 10 or so are out in the world, with more in the queue. I’m on schedule to do about 20 this year, and hope to bump that to 30 or so next. I still work as an industry builder as well, and have a hand in getting close to 40 or so bikes out in a good week there.
BR: How long does it typically take from the time a bike is ordered until delivery?
EE: In general I can usually get a bike out the door 4-6 weeks after it is ordered. Wet paint and certain build options can add a bit of time. Smaller projects, such as custom stems, racks or forks are generally a bit quicker.
BR: The stays on the Whip look really thin…is the rear end flexy?  If so, why is it designed that way…and if not, how?
EE: Its not just the stays! Every tube on that bike that does not house a bearing assembly is one size smaller then “standard”.   

Classic steel uses a 1″ top tube and 1 1/8″ seat and down tubes. On this bike the top tube is 7/8″ and the seat and down tubes are 1″.  For reference, that means the top tube is a few mm smaller then tire, which is approx. the same diameter as the down tube. In addition I scaled down the seat and chain stays. The full name I gave the bike was the “experiMENTAL Whip”- and it was just that, and experiment. I’d just wrapped up several over sized steel bikes, and I wanted to try something I had not seen before- specifically undersized tubes. This was two fold- I wanted to see if it would hold up, and I wanted to see what it would be like for a larger rider to ride a “classic” tube set.

To get back to your question about flex- surprisingly, the rear end is pretty darn stiff. I ran really short chain stays (a hair under 380mm), which helps. Seat stays work mostly in compression, so running these, especially with the wishbone configuration, was surprisingly stiff. I’ll be using this more for sure. The integrated seat tube/mast also helps. The frame is flexy, but all of that happens at the front end (as expected by dropping the tube diameters). It’s not a sprint bike (especially for real upper body pullers), but if you are a spinner, or are thinking pursuit/ TT applications, I think there are merits to the tube choice. Its been working great as a mainly urban fixed gear as well.

This bike combines lots off different ideas I had, and while I probably won’t do them all on the same bike, they will all likely get used again on future Winters.

BR: Anything else interesting you’d like to share?
First off, thanks for the interest in Winter Bicycles. I’m committed to offering high value, great fitting and high performance bikes. In addition to the track bikes I do a full range of city, road, rando and mountain bikes. Take a peek at the site (winterbicycles.com) and feel free to get in touch if you are interested in a new project.
Winter’s headbadge is a Plum Tree, which in Chinese tradition is one of three friends of winter (Pine and Bamboo being the others).  Plum, which flowers in the winter, represents inner strength and beauty under adversity.
All photos: Rick Gersbach (from Winter’s website)
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15 years ago

Fresh ideas + great construction = cool bikes!

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