We were all sitting around the kitchen table at the Dirt Rag office as we do during our weekly meeting discussing the finer points of handmade bicycles. In particularly we were discussing a current test bike in the form of the Oddity Punk Rock Jazz, a piece of art more than a bike, but it also did a fine job being a bike. During the course of the conversation, someone had mentioned that some guy named Andy had gone out to Oddity to weld himself a frame and then ride it some obscene distance to a friend’s wedding upon completion, add to the fact the bike was a rigid single speed. The whole thing sounded preposterous and brilliant all at the same time and I had decided that I would like to meet this Andy fellow they spoke of.
Fast forward some 8 months later during our 2018 Dirt Fest West Virginia event (you can register for this year’s event here), a bearded gentleman smiling with a beer in one hand while the other steered a simple steel bicycle with klunker bars passed by me with a casual nod. Seconds later I hear a voice call out, “Hey Andy!” I turned to see if the man with beer acknowledged the shout, he did and I remembered the story of the handbuilt single speed. Later on that evening our paths would cross again and I stopped and introduced myself.
With a bushy dirty blond beard, adorned in a tie-dyed t-shirt sporting the logo of New River Bikes, the shop that he owns, Andy resembles the mountain bikers of yesteryear. His use of classic componentry and an approach that all of this is just for kicks is as infectious as it is admirable. At the end of the weekend, I was able to sneak Andy’s bike away from him to snag a couple photos but it was until just recently I was able to catch up with him to find out more about the bike.
Hi Andy, let’s get the pleasantries out of the way real quick, what have you been up to since the last time we hung out at Dirt Fest in West Virginia?
Working as little as possible. Riding as much as possible. Keeping things simple.
I couldn’t help but notice your bike when we are shuffling around the campsite. Is this the first frame you have ever built?
Yeah. I took a frame building class a year or so ago. It was a bit of a waste of time. It’s a good story for another day. I built this frame with the help of Sean Burns at Oddity. It was a super rad experience for sure. Always cool when someone is willing to show you how it’s done while letting you do the work. I would have ruined a few tubes and screwed it up without having someone pointing out all the finer details.
Is this a one-off or are you about to veer off into the woods of manic frame builder?
It’s not a one-off. I’ve been hoarding tools and machines all summer. I’m currently building a singlespeed gravel bike for a winter beater. I do see it more as a hobby than a business at this point. Lots to learn and there are already tons of folks out there making amazing bikes.
What was the inspiration for this frame?
It’s the same really fun geometry as my Oddity frame which I really like. I also like the curves of older bikes so there is a bit of that in there.
I heard a rumor that you went on a bike tour out west somewhere right after finishing the build, where did you go?
Yeah. That was a big part of the whole trip. I flew out there with bikepacking gear. Hung out with Sean and built the frame. Built it up with a few trips over to The Brave New Wheel for parts I forgot to bring. Met up with my buddy Ben. Rode as much trail as possible down to Carbondale for a wedding. Packed up the bike and flew home. It’s got sweet Oakes manufacturing couplers on the stays so It fits in a bag and checks right on the plane. Such a fun trip.
Was a single speed the option because it was the easiest place to start or is it your preferred way to ride a mountain bike?
I prefer SS on all my bikes. I like really simple stuff. The original build was a coaster brake. I rode it that way for a while but I’ve been running it SS lately because I need to service the hub and haven’t got around to it.
Besides welding a frame and riding it around, what have you been up to this summer?
Mostly working at my shop, New River Bikes. Traveling to ride. Buying machine and frame building tools.
What are your favorite trails to ride?
Oh, that is a hard one. I enjoy so many. Big Bear where Dirt Fest is held is probably my favorite. I’d live there if I could. I’d say top 3 are Big Bear, Squamish, and Lunch Loops.I’m pretty fond of riding around on big rocks.
Do you foresee yourself building more bikes in the future?
Yup. Im working on one right now.
Is there something about the frame you would change now after spending a lot of time riding it?
It’s pretty sweet. I knew I liked the way it road after riding my Oddity for a year. The clear powder coat looks cool but its not very durable. I suppose if I changed anything it would be adding some paint.
If you are ever in the New River Gorge area of West Virginia be sure to swing through New River Bikes and give Andy a hi-five from us!