Our approach to frame design has its roots in our days making production and custom bikes at Bruce Gordon Cycles, Salsa Cycles, and here at Soulcraft. We usually start with one of our frame models and design it to fit your body and riding style, and can change any design feature to adapt it to your needs. The goal is to have every Soulcraft customer say the same thing about their bike, no matter their size or the model they ride. We want the bike to “disappear” beneath you so you can concentrate on riding; a bike that fits and handles so well you don’t think about what you’re doing, you simply do it.
All photos on this page by Vernor
The most important aspect of frame design is the fit, and nailing that requires a bit of work on your part. If your current bike doesn’t fit correctly we recommend either coming to our shop for a fitting or contacting a local fitting expert near you to help you sort things out. Trial and error on your current bike can also be useful by simply moving the saddle up/down and fore/aft, raising/lowering your bars, or swapping stems. Either way, we like you to have those numbers sorted out before we start so the process doesn’t get bogged down with a lot of back and forth on fitting. We are happy do do fittings in person but trying to hash that out remotely can be tough. You can take a look at our order form to get an idea of the numbers and info we need. We recommend doing this part sooner than later so when you’re ready to pull the trigger on an order you have all the info ready to go.
After we get the fit information, we start connecting the dots around those points based on parts selection, riding style, and aesthetics. Then we will send you a preliminary drawing just so you can see where we’re at. Once you have a chance to look it over we will schedule a phone interview where we can discuss design details and options and make changes to the drawing if needed. Once we settle on a frame design and you sign off on the drawing, we’re ready to start building your frame (although it probably won’t get started at that time due to the orders in front of yours).
First, we select the tubes which go through five different quality control checks. If something isn’t up to par, we throw the tube in the “NFG” box and grab another. Next we miter (cope) the tubes on one of our custom made fixtures. We love machines and fixtures, and we’ve invested a lot of money in them so that our miters come out perfect on every cut. This makes a huge difference when welding the frames because the smaller the gap, the less twisting the frame will do which results in better final alignment.
After the tubes are cut and ready to go, we tack weld them in our frame fixture and then check the alignment on our surface plate. Now it’s on to welding. After the frame is welded it gets all the cable stops brazed and then it’s “machined”, which is head tube reaming/facing, seat tube reaming, and bottom bracket chasing/facing. All this is done on a machine rather than by hand which gives us more accurate cuts and better surface finishes.
The final step is alignment. Fortunately this isn’t an intensive process because the frames are really close already. Small adjustments can be made on the surface plate to make sure your bike will ride straight and handle as it was designed.
And finally, paint. We choose powder coating because it is highly durable and more environmentally friendly than “wet”, or solvent based paints. Our local powder coater uses a 3 stage prep process which includes media blasting, a phosphate conversion coating, and a sealing rinse. This all makes for a much better paint adherence. Then a base color is applied which is followed by a clear coat. We forgo fancy paint schemes because we think the understated, single color approach works well with our overall philosophy of “business before pleasure”. When we get the frame back from paint, we clean all the machined surfaces and threads, apply decals, and spray rust inhibitor on all the bare metal surfaces. Every Soulcraft frame comes completely ready to assemble with no prep needed.