Beautiful, aren’t they. They’re Fast Boy Fenders — “Handcrafted bicycle fenders for you.”
I first noticed Fast Boy Fenders on flickr while searching for other, bicycle related photos. One look at the craftsmanship that must go into these and I just had to know more. I contacted Ezra and asked him to tell us a bit about Fast Boy Fenders.
CBB: Tell us a bit about your background.
I grew up in Putney Vermont, playing around in my dad’s wood shop. During summer vacations I always worked on construction crews and did a little free-lance cabinetry/furniture building. I moved to NYC about 10 years ago to pursue a career as a dancer (I’m finally retiring at the end of august), and quickly realized that a bike was the way to go. I’ve been more and more devoted to spreading the word over the last few years. I build commuter bikes for people at rate of about 1 a weekend.
CBB: How did you come up with the idea for these fenders?
I was in a bike shop about three years ago talking to a guy about a cross-check he was building up. He said he wanted to put wooden fenders on it, and it got my gears turning. I went home, built a sort of crappy jig, and layed up my first fender.
CBB: How long have you been selling them?
At first I was insistent that they were strictly free. I spent a year or so just making them as gifts and sending them off to people whose bikes I liked. But there was so much interest that I decided to get legitimate. We finally launched the website in June.
CBB: How do you construct them?
It’s a process called bent lamination. You start with very thinly sliced pieces of wood. You glue them together clamped into a mold. When the glue dries they’re stuck in the shape of the mold, because for an individual slice of wood to move, it would have to slide past the one next to it. (I made wooden spatulas this way when I was 12.. gave them to people for Christmas). The nice thing about this method is the stability and stiffness of it. Wood has a profound memory, and if you steam bend it, it will gradually return over time. Bent Lamination doesn’t do this. It’s like making really really nice plywood.
CBB: Are they easy to care for?
Very easy. Fast Boys are finished with a mix of Tung and Teak oil. These are what are known as penetrative finishes. That is to say they harden in the wood (as opposed to something like Lacquer or Spar Varnish, which build and harden on the surface of the wood). This finish is surprisingly tough. It does a great job of protecting against graying and water-logging.
Once a season, they should be buffed with steel-wool and refinished with a little tung oil. Just like greasing up your Brooks saddle.
CBB: What response have you had from your customers?
It’s been pretty overwhelming. Folks are very positive.
CBB: I notice that several of the models are currently out of stock. Will more be available soon, or do you build them to order?
The initial response was quite a lot bigger than I expected, and I’ve had trouble keeping things in stock. It didn’t help that July was a very busy month of teaching for me. I’m hoping to be able to spend more time in the shop this fall. In the mean time, if there’s something specific from the site that people want, they should feel free to contact me for a time estimate.
CBB: Do you build custom fenders for your customers?
I absolutely do custom work, but at a serious premium. The time savings associated with production runs (even very small ones) is huge. To do a one-off model is really quite time consuming, and I have to charge for it to make it worth while.
You can contact Ezra at firstname.lastname@example.org