Thursday, November 18, 2010

Has it really been a year?

As the women in our lives can attest to, remembering dates has never been our strong suit. So the exact date that Otis Cycles took flight will forever remain a mystery. But we decided that October would be a good approximation for the anniversary of Otis Cycles. Why pick just one day when we could celebrate all month! And just like our parents used to do, we marked the occasion with a family photo. Eight bikes in all, not a bad body of work for Year 1.

In summary, it's been a year of great learning for us. I think we can both say that any frame we build now is a huge improvement over those first attempts. And it's nice to have the confidence that our creations can actually survive out on the trails and pavement.

There's been many who have helped us along the way. The sage advice of the many builders on frame builders forum has been a life (frame) saver at many points. Bryce Wright down at AZ Bikes for his patience with our questions and gracious use of tools that have yet to find a way into our shop.

We are excited about all of the ideas yet to find form and new skills that will be added along the way.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Recently back from powdercoating and built up is Anni's new 29er mtb. These pictures don't do the color justice, it's a sky-blue base with some metal flake in it, very cool in natural light. It will get gears as soon as I raid the parts bin.

Specs are:
HTA: 71 degrees
STA: 73 degrees
TT: 23.3"
ST: 19"
CS: 17.2"

DT: Nova 35mm 9/6/9
TT: 28.6mm x .035 4130 straight gauge bent in the roller
ST: Nova 28.6 external butted seat tube
CS: Nova oval chain stays 30/16, 8/6
SS: 16mm 4130 straight gauge bent in the roller mated with some tapered 16->12.5mm seat stay leftovers in a segmented design (not the intention, I screwed up the originals).
BB: 73mm

Sunday, October 17, 2010

October updates

A couple of recent projects to catch up on. First is a BMX frame that Jason built for the little family daredevil. Mostly straight gauge tubing and other BMX burliness.

Next is a schwoopy top tube / seat tube cross frame that Jason built for commuting, gravel road grinding, and other general debaucery.

Specs are:
HTA: 72 degrees
STA: 73 degrees
TT: 580mm
ST: 560mm
CS: 425mm

DT: Nova 35mm 9/6/9
TT: 28.6mm .035 straight gauge 4130 bent in the roller
ST: Nova OS external butted seat tube
CS: Nova oval chain stays 30/16, 8/6
SS: 16mm x .035 straight gauge 4130 bent in the roller.
BB: 68mm

Look for a post on Anni's new 29er mtb coming soon!

Ongoing in the shop at the moment - hardtails designed for 100-120mm forks and oversized seat tubes for adjustable seatposts. Pictures coming soon.

Also, October marks the 1-year anniversary of our frame building journey. We're rounding up the offspring for a family photo. Should be fun.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Don't blink or you'll miss it

Otis Cycles lucked into a bit of free publicity a few weeks ago. Although you wouldn't know it unless you know what to look for. Pull out your latest Title Nine catalog (admit it guys, you look at it too. can't pass up the actively fit gals in spandex) That purple mountain bike being carried across the river by the smokin' redhead (more on her later) is OC #1.

Scroll down the blog and you can see a better picture of this bike.

No, we don't have a Madison Ave. marketing firm working PR for Otis Cycles. My wife Anni is the gal in the pic. She had a chance encounter with a photographer for T9 (Flag local Dawn Kish, check out her impressive work: and the wheels were put in motion. Dawn wanted to get some mtb shots down near Sedona. Anni's Otis Cycles ride wasn't ready (final pics coming soon!) and her current ride is a ratty ol' mess, so the spanky new OC#1 seemed like the logical choice. Apparently it was a hit with the T9 crew as well. Sorry gals, not for sale.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Shakedown ride

The second OtisB has rolled off of the assembly line. Sorry the picture is a bit fuzzy. My camera skills are no better than my frame building skills. I'll post more detailed pics when she's cleaned up and painted.

This one is a single top tube, schwoopy seat stay, 29er front, 650B rear, dedicated single speed, with internal cable routing. Rear end is inspired by a recent creation by Fred Cuthbert of Wolfhound Cycles. Single speed sliders by Todd at Black Cat Cycles. Rather than wait for paint, I decided to build it up for a few shakedown rides first. The fillets still need to be cleaned up and prepped for paint. But I was curious to see if I could build a mtb frame that would survive the rocky trails of northern AZ. First ride was a success! It will go off to paint while the fam is on vacation in August. Still waiting to be inspired by a color...

Specs are:
HTA: 71 degrees
STA: 72 degrees
TT: 25"
ST: 20"
CS: 16.8" (in middle of slider)

DT: Nova 35mm 9/6/9
TT: Nova 31.8mm 9/6/9
ST: Nova 28.6 external butted seat tube with custom sleeve
CS: Nova oval chain stays 30/16, 8/6
SS: 16mm 4130 straight gauge bent in the roller.
BB: 73mm

Friday, July 16, 2010

Where are they now?

Thought I'd provide an update on OC#2, the cross frame chronicled below. It's now affectionately known as the "brownie townie" and has been serving duty as the commuter bike this spring/summer. So far so good. Now that I've gotten over the fear if it falling apart with every bump in the road, it's definitely living up to expectations and is a good reminder of why I decided to build my own. Fits great, rides great.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Shop Tour

I've been promising this for a while - here at long last is a look at Otis Cycles World Headquarters. It's not really lacking for anything at this point, the essential tools have been assembled. (except for maybe a nice Bridgeport mill, but that's a pipe dream at this point.) Now we just need to catch our skills up to our big ideas.

A current project in the jig - soon to be a schwoopy top tube, schwoopy seatstay cross / ride-it-anywhere bike. Stay tuned for updates on this one. This is where is all starts. Tubes are mitered and assembled for tacking/brazing.

Tubing roller. Used to create schwoopy top tubes, seatstays, and whatever else gets in the way. Cheap Harbor Freight version, but does the job for a couple of hobbyists (as witnessed by finished product in previous shot)

Tubing bender. Used to create tighter radius bends in seatstays and chainstays.

Files (and tunes). Used for mitering and cleaning up fillets. Can't live without these. There's a whole lot more scattered around the shop. And bench grinder in the background.

OA Brazing setup. Standard setup with Henrob torch and tips. And drill press for drilling water bottle bosses and vent holes.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010


Yes it's been awhile. Jobs, work travel, and kids' sports have all been in full swing this spring. Jason has finished the first OtisB. It's a 29" front wheel and 650B rear wheel. We're testing out the concept to see if it creates a more nimble single track machine (especially in SS mode). He somehow sneaked this through without build pics, which is unfortunate because there was a lot of work that went into the twin top tube production process. Anyway, here's the final creation:

Concept bike finished, it was time for some "product testing". Plus Jason and crew had just welcomed a new pop-up camper into the fold. The open road called! Weekend pass secured, the boys headed off for Red Canyon, Utah. If you haven't heard of this place, you gotta check it out! Some of the best singletrack you'll ever ride with views and vistas that can't be beat. It's just outside Bryce Canyon NP in southern Utah (about 4.5 hours from Flagstaff).

The area campground was full, but we found a tasty little spot off of a nearby forest service road.

A few requisite "product" shots, then some ride shots. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Currently in progress in the shop:
Joth - twin top-tube 29er
Jason - BMX / dirt jump bike for an excited little daredevil

And I promise to get some shop pics posted soon. There are some cool new tools to show off.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Otis Cycles #2 reporting for duty, sir!

And then there were two. Joth's cyclocross/commuter muffin frame is back from the local powdercoater (shout out to John at Iron Horse Coatings - guy does good work). This one will be built up as the dusty roads commuter. Some pavement, some gravel roads, whatever it takes to get where I need to go.

Frame complete and ready for filing.

Somehow the pictures post filing / pre-paint have met an untimely electronic demise, so we'll move right to post paint. Color is "laser copper". Has a really cool metalic sheen in the sunlight. All in all - very pleased with this first effort.

Next builds are already in progress. Jason's working on the twin top tube Otis B. Joth will move on to a 29er mtb for Anni.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Look for Otis Cycles #1 on the trails

Sorry for the delay in posting. I assure you, progress is being made. In fact, the first Otis Cycles creation is complete! Jenn is the proud owner of OCJF01. (I wonder if she's signed all of the waivers and releases of liability yet?) Enough with the chit chat, here's the pictures to prove it:

There was a lot of blood, sweat, tears that went into this (lots of blood, and loss of skin too), so here are some pics to document to process:

Seat tube / top tube with sleeve

Bottom bracket junction - by far the hardest spot to braze

All brazed and ready for filing

(mostly) filed - as if that step is ever "finished"

She's got a sweet back side

The requisite newly painted frame resting in the snow

Joth's cross frame (#1) is finishing up brazing this weekend. Pictures coming soon! And some new shop pics as there are new tools to show off.

And finally, we decided there should be some shiny new racers for these two sometime in the near future:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Big flame keeps on burning

It's time for Joth to play some serious catch-up. Here a pic of my first seattube / bottom bracket fillet. Looks adequate.

Now that we've got this frame building thing mastered (that's a joke. I'm still convinced my first frame won't last 100 feet.) it's time to think about the build list.

Joth's list:
1. Cyclocross frame (current)
2. 29er mtb for Anni
3. lugged road frame?
4. 29/650B SS frame

Jason's list (correct me if I'm wrong):
1. 26" mtb for Jenn (almost done!)
2. 29/650B SS frame or
2. Split top tube cruiser
4. Fat bike

We're a few weeks out now from Flagstaff's "snowmageddon", and things are slowly getting back to normal. Here's what 54" looks like if you're not around to shovel:

On the bright side, I've got acres of skate skiing heaven a block from my house that should now have snow until spring.

Live long and prosper

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pictures from the shop

It's time to get down to business. The new (to us) frame jig is in the shop and looking for action. Sorry gals, this one's taken. This frame jig has quite a predigree - made by Wade Beauchamp of Vulture Cycles, passed on to a (then) budding frame builder named Steve Garro (of Coconino Cycles fame), and most recently used to build the first frames for Bryce Wright (of Wright Cycles here in Flagstaff). So it's well seasoned and we're hoping there's some magic we can tap into.

Jason's first "real" frame braze - bottom bracket / seat tube junction

Here's the first frame set up in the jig. Front triangle post brazing.

Jason working on chain stays

On another note - 55" of snow last week! Are you kidding me! May be more skiing than torching in the next few weeks...

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Product Testing

Saturday marked the introduction of an Otis Cycles creation to the dirt. And what a better place than the singletrack heaven of Sedona. Jason rocked the new handlebars and finished without requiring an emergency trip to the dentist. I think we'll call that a success! Can't imagine anything more punishing on handlebars than a rigid SS ride in Sedona.

We did discover that these bars will not prevent exercise-induced vomitting, however. Steve! Hold his hair back!