Bicycle Industry Insider Profile: Jeffrey G. Frane

Aside from bicycles, of course, the main reason I choose to continue my futile search for fortune in the bicycle industry is because of the people I know and meet. There’s no shortage of extremely smart and passionate people who are insanely interesting, individualistic personalities. Sure it’s cool to be around famous athletes from time to time, but I much more deeply value the less publicly visible people that make the bicycle world go ’round. As such, I’ve decided to revive a special online series where we do a very brief standardized interview with some of these individuals: The Bicycle Industry Insider Profile Series. I want to share the stories of these people with the rest of the world through the Dirt Rag and Bicycle Times web sites. This week we have…

Name: Jeffrey G. Frane

Hometown: Rhinelander, WI

Current Location: MPLS

What do you do for/with/to bicycles?: I live life for/with/to bicycles.  Man, that sounds so pretentious.  Work/play/family/life all revolve around having fun.  Having fun often involves leaving the house and leaving the house involves bicycles. I helped start All-City Cycles and we do the fixed gear/track/singlespeed thing. It’s my job to steer the company in ways that make a positive impact on the culture and available machinery for riders who live life on their bikes.  (Again, I sound like an asshole, sorry about that)

What’s the best thing about your job? The best part of the job has got to be the free candy and back rubs.  I’m also super stoked to be able to make the kinds of things that we’ve (collectively) been wishing someone would make, to help design stuff that eventually becomes a reality and that people can own and enjoy.  That’s pretty rad.  Just the opportunity to throw a hat in the ring and say “What’s up world? This is my dream shit, I hope you like it.”

What’s the toughest part of your job? I’d say the toughest part is to keep an appropriate distance from a project that you are so emotionally attached to and care so deeply about.

What was the path that led you to work with bicycles? The best part of this whole thing is that having this job seems to make the rest of my life make sense.  I came up through my teens as a mountain bike racer in Wisconsin, was too scared of killing someone when I was 16 to get a drivers license,  spent six years in college as a Comparative Studies in Religion and Public Relations Major, and then got a job in a bikeshop.  What else are you going to do with a degree in Religious Studies and PR?  The bikeshop job led me to work at Quality Bicycle Products which then led to helping to start All-City.   Taken without the current outcome it looks like I’ve done “nothing” (in the typical “real” world “why don’t you get a real job already” sense), but all of that has led to this.  And this is pretty good.

Now I’m no self stylized bicycle evangelist,  if you want to drive your car or motorcycle or fourwheeler or whatever that’s great and fine with me provided you maintain a healthy respect for others.  I do firmly believe though that everytime I throw a leg over my bike my quality of life goes up.   That is what keeps me working in bicycles.  Why would I not want that for everyone; and now I have a chance to help make the available equipment better and give back to the cycling community, and hopefully encourage/enable others to ride their bike more often.

What was your first bicycle? My first nice bike was a Trek 830.  We put it on layaway (does anybody still do that anymore?) and it finally came home on my 12th birthday.  I distinctively remember my mom saying “well I don’t know, I could see if he was racing, but it’s just so much” with regard to the price ($370).  That was the bike I really started riding trails on and I ended up racing it for a few seasons until I was old enough to have a job and buy myself a proper race bike (Trek 8700 carbon/aluminum held together with chewing gum and luck).  It was flat black with orange/blue decals and was the gateway bike that led to all of this.  I remember having the option of waiting for the nice bike or getting a department store mountain bike right away, I sometimes wonder where my life would be if I had chosen to get that Roadmaster instead.

Where is your favorite place to ride? If we’re talking off road it’s got to be the Levis trail system in Wisco.  Easily the best in the midwest that I’ve ever ridden and great camping too.  If we’re talking day to day life, I enjoy the riverbottoms near Minneapolis or just cruising around the city at night.  So many good times have been had with a backpack full of beer, a lazy summer night, and zero agenda other than having a good time.

If you weren’t working around bicycles, what do you think you’d be doing? If I didn’t have a steady job I’m sure I’d still be bumming around living out of my van (I got a license at 21) being a dirtbag.

Please share one of your favorite stories you’ve seen or been a part of while working in the bicycle industry: If you want the good stuff you’ve got to buy me a couple of beers first.

Who would you choose for us to profile next? Dave Gray from Surly.

Why? Have you ever looked into his eyes?  You’ll want to dive in and swim laps.


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