2010 NAHBS Interview Series : Strong Frames

The largest series of interviews of frame and part builders, leading up to the North American Handmade Bicycle Show February 26-28, 2010.. Make sure to add us on Twitter for the latest show news.

Strong Frames 4


What’s your name?. Carl Strong

Where are you based out of?. Bozeman MT in the heart of the Rockies

How did you get into frame building?

I’m asked that all the time and frankly I’m not exactly sure. I’ve been riding and racing bikes all my life. I have also been working on and making things all my life. By the time I was in Jr. High I was a pretty competent mechanic and in the seventh grade I took my first shop class. By the ninth grade I had built a mini bike from raw material and that sort of marked the beginning of my fabrication career. While this was all going on I was also racing and commuting on my bike. After moving to Montana (from Seattle) to go to college I continued to ride and race and decided to put my skill-set to use and build myself a frame to race. From there it grew until ultimately I made a career out of it.

What’s your experience and length of building?

I’ve been running Strong Frames for 17 years. I don’t know the exact number, but my guess is that I’ve built about 3500 frames.

How are your bikes different, or what do you bring differently to the bike building arena?

Once you get to the top rung of the builder hierarchy we all offer similar quality of construction. Some builders will try to set themselves apart with frame design, lugs, details, etc. I set myself apart by my customization process. I use a 10 stage order process that I’ve developed over the last 17 years that allows me to help and/or identify the customer’s priorities and design from them back to the bike. I start with the customer, not the bike.

One other thing that makes me unique is that I build with all common materials, steel, titanium, carbon fibers and aluminum. I’m best known for steel and titanium and build more steel than anything else. I feel it’s important to offer all materials because each has its own unique properties and depending on the customers priorities one material may serve a customer better than another..

Commuter’esque bikes :

Do you build any utility, commuter or daily use style bikes?

All my frames are custom so I build what is going to serve the customers priorities. In a typical year I’ll build about 20% of my frames for customers wanting to commute or mix commuting utility with other purposes like touring, long road rides or MTB.

If so, what do you think are the key ingredients in making a bicycle that will help people use their bicycles more for everyday use?

The bike must be comfortable and practical. Typical requests are a more upright position, larger tires, mud guards, racks, lights and durability. It’s also common to request a discreet finish so the bike doesn’t attract thieves.

What is your idea of a perfect, everyday bike (or the above question.)

Tires that aren’t big and slow, but not so small you can’t hop curbs and hit the occasional pot hole. Other than that about anything will work. I’m not one to ride a clunker or beater bike. I prefer an efficient bike for commuting so I can flow with traffic when needed.

Alternative Transportation :

Do you think the culture of the US will continue towards alternative transportation?

Yes, but very slowly. As fuel prices increase we’ll see more, especially in more dense communities where traffic and parking is already a challenge.

What can we do as cyclist to help this?

Follow traffic laws. We are our own worst enemy. We like to complain and gripe about drivers not respecting our right to the road but before we have a leg to stand on we need to follow the basic traffic laws. BTW I hate “critical mass”, I think it does more to harm our cause than help it.

Also, as more people ride for basic transportation needs, more bike traffic will be people that are not part of the bike culture and will be less likely to follow the traffic laws. I think it’s important for the cycling culture to figure out a way to get the message to bike commuters in general to follow traffic laws with an emphasis on educating new commuters.

What do we need to see from the government?

Nothing really, its’ up to us. Use the road, follow the laws and be respectful and courteous. If there are problems traffic laws currently in place should take care it. The problem is we don’t get the benefit of the doubt because we have a reputation for not following the traffic laws.

Also I’m not a big fan of bike paths. Bike lanes are OK but paths are bad. They undermine our right to the road.

What do we need to see from the bike industry to aid in the movement?

A push to educated riders on traffic laws and following them.


Switching subjects, what are you most excited about at NAHBS?

Seeing all my Framebuilding friends and meeting customers face to face I’ve never seen before.

What do you think we will see differently this year?

Nothing, it’s just good bikes and they’ve been around forever. Bikes change incrementally but I never really expect much in the way of change or advancement. Just a lot of really nice bikes and people.

Make Contact:

Carl Strong,
Strong Frames Inc.
701 E Mendenhall
Bozeman MT 59715
P 406-586-6264
P 800-586-1105
F 406-587-1134



Post navigation