What was your first bike- not the first one you built? How did it come to you?
Cannondale Prophet, full suspension mountain bike. I moved from Brooklyn, NY to Northern New Jersey about fifteen years ago, and discovered mountain biking. This was before I learned that hard tail are better ride for me.
What was the last bike you bought that you didn't make, and why?
Single speed, Steel Vassago Jabberwocky. I was experimenting with different types of bikes. I rode aluminum, carbon, titanium, and finally steel. I discovered that steel bikes had superior riding characteristics. In addition, I was trying out single speed riding, and really liked climbing on it. There is no downshifting here when you approach a climb!
When did you decide to start making frames of your own? What influenced you to do so?
I was looking for a best ride, and turned to Ti before I tried steel bikes. I actually bought a custom Ti frame from Black Sheep, and was really amazed by the craftsmanship of the bike. Then I started following other frame builders and developed that desire to start building my own frames.
What was the last odd job you held before frame building?
I wish it was my last job! J I have a mechanical engineering degree that I received while I lived in Ukraine. After moving to US, I obtained a degree in accounting/finance. So, currently I am doing both, fabricate frames and work in the finance industry.
Did you have a mentor when you started, or do you still have one?
I discovered Metal Guru frame building school run by Carl Schlemowitz, aka Vicious Cycles located in New Paltz, NY. So, Carl was my mentor, and we still maintain good relationship. All my frames are powdercoated or painted in his shop. What do you listen to when you're working? AC/DC, METALICA and Trance
What's your favorite tool in the shop and why?
Anvil frame jig, Bridgeport mill and Bringheli alignment table. I believe this a minimum that is needed to efficiently and precisely build frames.
Every builder seems to have an "Ah Ha" moment where they figure out some way to do a weld different or set up a jig for that one type of braze-on, what was yours? And did it come easily to you once you figured it out?
As bike wheels are getting fatter and chainstays are getting shorter, my important "Ah ha" thing was how to fabricate chainstays with appropriate clearances/bends to accommodate various demands.
When designing or building a bike for someone, what is your thought process?
What sticks out most about a build/design that you need to tackle first? Understanding how the bike will be ridden and making sure geometry and fit are correct for that specific build. Second is aesthetics of the bike.
What's your go to bike when you go on a ride?
(Provide a picture if you could) My go to 650b plus MTB!
I ride primarily my 27.5 plus on the trails. The bike I showed during 2015 NAHBS in Louisville, KY. It was designed around 29er 100mm travel suspension fork with a little bit steeper head angle. I like the traction of the plus tires and being able to ride in all conditions. I keep a set of 29er wheels for this bike that I use on smooth and flowy single track from time to time. However, about five years ago I discovered road biking. So, I ride road bike a lot during Summer now and, finally, I built myself a gravel bike that I just displayed in SLC. The goal here was to combine pavement, gravel and dirt riding in one ride so who knows may be that will be my favorite ride after all.