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Thread: Signal Cycles

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by conorb View Post
    Hey Matt,

    Cool story, I really like your and Nate's stuff.

    How do you guys work together in the shop? What's the mood? Do you guys interact separately on different things? For example, if a customer says "do want you want with the lugs" how do you decide what to do? Do you both have input?

    Thanks!

    Conor
    Thanks Connor, we are fans of yours too!
    With respect any decision that informs the design, one of us will usually start with something and then run it by the other person. If we both agree on it it moves forward if not we offer an alternate take and have a conversation about what will work best for the desired outcome. I think that's what makes us unique (maybe not unique compared to you and Garrett!). Most builders toil away alone in the shop and then pop a bike out, we have a lot of conversations about what we are shooting for and then pop a bike out. How do things work in your shop? Does one of you take the design lead? One work on fabrication more?

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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Brett Flemming rules. How competitive is the P-town market for you. There are a gozillian builders there, some very good, but the market for bike buyers is also large. I seem to have no problem selling an occasional frame in Portland, I wonder what its like for you locals. I'm guessing the Bike Gallery connection does not hurt.

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    I think your stuff is tops.

    Can you talk about the "art" side of you guys? Someone told me, I talked to one of you, I read...something along those lines that you guys were/are "art" guys. Meaning painting and stuff (degrees or past study) like that. Please talk about that background (if I'm even right), and how that effects your work and what you like to do with your work going forward.

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    I just arrived in Medallin, Colombia and have some internet access so I thought I could add my opinions. Matt has explained everything in regards to how we started up, learned from eachother, learned from all you guys and how we work together in the shop and run our business. There were a few bumps and bruises but I am certain that I probably couldnīt be in a partnership with anyone else. Matt and I seem blessed in the fact that our business ethics and brand asthetics are so similar. Itīs been a great last 3 or 4 years! I think the hardest part for me was not our partnership or finding our place in this competative market but learning to accept moments when youīve made a mistake and push on. I also put so much value in respect from my piers. Signal was launched at the same time as so many other new companies and, understandably, there came much discussion of the qaulity of these new builders work. I found it hard to join in on discussions on framebuilders forums due to the amount of FNG bashing(not Velocipede). At times, I feel it effected my work and also my drive. Still does sometimes, but I feel Signal is moving in the right direction and hope our work speaks for itself. I will say that Curtis Inglis has been my greatest source of encouragment and advice. After you, Matt!

    Richard asked a question about what kind of frame we enjoy building the most. For me, I am really excited about fendered road bikes with long reach calipers. My wife and I bike tour when we can in the summer and touring, rando bikes are great to build!

    Curt, I love crisp lug lines and uniform fillets. I also like playing around with braze-ons. Your rear canti stop on the binder bolt, for example. Simple, makes sense, quick and easy. I really donīt like super tall head tube extensions. And for some odd reason I really love building racks for our frames. A stem built to fit with no spacers is also a beautiful way to finish a frame. And of course, colourways!

    Thanks for everyones questions and comments! Iīm looking forward to more discussion but for now its time to find a shower and lunch. I took a 13 hour night bus last night. Sweet. Be back in the shop in about a week and Iīm looking forward to it! ciao

    Nate

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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by lavi View Post
    I think your stuff is tops.

    Can you talk about the "art" side of you guys? Someone told me, I talked to one of you, I read...something along those lines that you guys were/are "art" guys. Meaning painting and stuff (degrees or past study) like that. Please talk about that background (if I'm even right), and how that effects your work and what you like to do with your work going forward.
    Ok, one more post. Matt and I both went to art school and recieved our BFAs in painting. I think our paintings share alot of similar qualities and we both tend to like the same painters. I think objects that catch your eye are universal, be it paintings, bike frames, or furniture. You know what you like and what you donīt like. I have a few of my large oil paintings hanging in my house and Iīve noticed that many of my favorite oil colors have found their way into our frames, website, t-shirts, etc. Matt and I talk about design while in the shop and I donīt think we have come up with THE answer as to why some asthetic qualities just work and somethings never will. As Steve Biko in Tribe Called Quest once said, "opinions are like voices, we all have a different kind."

    Nate

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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by vulture View Post
    Brett Flemming rules. How competitive is the P-town market for you. There are a gozillian builders there, some very good, but the market for bike buyers is also large. I seem to have no problem selling an occasional frame in Portland, I wonder what its like for you locals. I'm guessing the Bike Gallery connection does not hurt.
    Wade, somehow the community of builders up here all have managed to find their own path. Yeah there are a lot of builders up here, but looking ahead at our next ten bikes, about 60% are out of towners. That number gets bigger every couple of months. We build bikes locally, but I think showing at NAHBS for the past three years has helped get our message out there beyond the borders of Portland. And yeah Brett is pretty rad. We're lucky to have such a resource close by.

    Thanks for adding insight Nate! Hope Columbia is treating you well and you are getting anxious to get back and make some bikes!

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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by lavi View Post
    I think your stuff is tops.

    Can you talk about the "art" side of you guys? Someone told me, I talked to one of you, I read...something along those lines that you guys were/are "art" guys. Meaning painting and stuff (degrees or past study) like that. Please talk about that background (if I'm even right), and how that effects your work and what you like to do with your work going forward.
    Nate and I did attend two different art schools. He graduated from U of N in Lincoln and I graduated from PNCA in Portland. We both have BFA degrees in oil painting and similar painting influences. I feel like my time in art school was pretty valuable in forming how I present my work. That and getting to spend a semester in Rome painting and drinking coffee was pretty great. As far as how that all relates to bikes, I've gotta say that it all comes out of the hands, and my hands are controlled by a brain that spends a lot of time looking and noticing. I love seeing the hand of the painter in a painting, and I don't think it's the same with bikes, but the choices made do add up to a bigger whole. Moving forward, I'd really love to start painting our own bikes. Coat does a great job, but I feel a disconnect from finishing the bike and then not seeing it until receiving a painted bike. That requires space and money, I can't see it being a possibility for maybe another 3-5 years.

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Hey Matt/Nate,

    What is Signal's primary marketing channel? It sounds like NAHMBS has been a good choice for you, but other than that (and VSalon), what other outlets do you guys use to get your bikes into the bike buying public's line of sight? Part 2 of this, are you guys thinking local (Portland), regional (PacNW), or national with your marketing efforts?
    Goosebumps never lie

  9. #29
    John M is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Cool info in this thread. Very interesting about how the partnership framebuilding came about.

    As as aside unrelated to Signal, I knew Brett Flemming 25 yrs ago back when he was wrenching for Albrecht's cycle in Sioux City, IA.

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by shorelocal View Post
    Hey Matt/Nate,

    What is Signal's primary marketing channel? It sounds like NAHMBS has been a good choice for you, but other than that (and VSalon), what other outlets do you guys use to get your bikes into the bike buying public's line of sight? Part 2 of this, are you guys thinking local (Portland), regional (PacNW), or national with your marketing efforts?
    I don't really market our company with a capitol M. NAHBS represents the biggest single expense we have all year long. It's big, but it is also pretty clear that it is a good venue to help us tell the story of our brand. Talking to people directly and showing our bikes in an environment that reflects influences is good. We really only attend NAHBS and the local shows if they aren't too spendy. Last year we made a decision to support a cyclocross team and we made a video to show our sponsors a bit of thanks. We really don't have a budget to target marketing, but we seem to pick up a lot of international exposure. We were featured in a UK bike mag and have been in a couple books. The Rapha Continental project created a big spike for us. But I think all of those opportunities came along because we show at NAHBS.

  11. #31
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Matt & Nate, it's great hearing about your history. I feel like I understand where you've come from now. I'd love to hang in your shop any day! I knew there had to be an art guy involved when I saw your booth design for one of the shows with a huge painting. Anyway, you have an interesting business model and it seems to be working. Are there any regrets for how you've gotten to where you are? Or, not regrets, but what would you have done differently with 20/20 hindsight?
    Thanks for sharing.
    Craig

  12. #32
    zetroc is offline VSalonistas
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Everyone makes mistakes, and I've found that I sometimes learn more when I screw up than from actual learning efforts. What are some of your biggest mistakes, or "oh, shit" moments, and what did they teach you?

  13. #33
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    How does the name "Signal" comes about?

    cheers,
    Renold Yip
    YiPsan Bicycles

  14. #34
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by cardinal View Post
    I don't really market our company with a capitol M. NAHBS represents the biggest single expense we have all year long. It's big, but it is also pretty clear that it is a good venue to help us tell the story of our brand. Talking to people directly and showing our bikes in an environment that reflects influences is good. We really only attend NAHBS and the local shows if they aren't too spendy. Last year we made a decision to support a cyclocross team and we made a video to show our sponsors a bit of thanks. We really don't have a budget to target marketing, but we seem to pick up a lot of international exposure. We were featured in a UK bike mag and have been in a couple books. The Rapha Continental project created a big spike for us. But I think all of those opportunities came along because we show at NAHBS.
    Matt/Nate,

    Why cyclocross? Sure, it 'effen' rules and all, but it seems that the Portland market may be a little saturated with everyone sponsoring teams. Did you both ride/race cyclocross before? I guess if you love it then that's cool; do it, but does it make financial sense? How do the team bikes differ from customer bikes? I'm thinking in terms of build and finishing, not lugs, tubes, things you can see.

    Me, I love the track, so I could see getting into that just for the love of it and not necessarily financial reasons.

    Quote Originally Posted by cardinal View Post
    Thanks Conor, we are fans of yours too!
    With respect any decision that informs the design, one of us will usually start with something and then run it by the other person. If we both agree on it it moves forward if not we offer an alternate take and have a conversation about what will work best for the desired outcome. I think that's what makes us unique (maybe not unique compared to you and Garrett!). Most builders toil away alone in the shop and then pop a bike out, we have a lot of conversations about what we are shooting for and then pop a bike out. How do things work in your shop? Does one of you take the design lead? One work on fabrication more?
    We collaborate on fabrication in a similar fashion in that we both have to agree on something before we move forward. Sometimes it makes for an interesting discussion but we've learned that the best solution is one we both agree to. This is in regarding aesthetics like a custom lug carve or even what brake bridge to use for a particular bike.

    On the plus side Garrett has never purposely burned me with the torch. Well, not yet anyway.

    Conor

  15. #35
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Ryan View Post
    Matt & Nate, it's great hearing about your history. I feel like I understand where you've come from now. I'd love to hang in your shop any day! I knew there had to be an art guy involved when I saw your booth design for one of the shows with a huge painting. Anyway, you have an interesting business model and it seems to be working. Are there any regrets for how you've gotten to where you are? Or, not regrets, but what would you have done differently with 20/20 hindsight?
    Thanks for sharing.
    Craig

    Regrets? I've had a few, but then again, too few to mention.


    I just wanted to quote Sinatra. I really don't have regrets. I'm happy and I love what I do. The path to get here was unique and it shapes who we are. I suppose there are always ways to improve things, but I think our decisions to grow slowly and to try to be true to our vision of what we want this company to be is working.

    Any time you want to come by you are welcome Craig!

  16. #36
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by zetroc View Post
    Everyone makes mistakes, and I've found that I sometimes learn more when I screw up than from actual learning efforts. What are some of your biggest mistakes, or "oh, shit" moments, and what did they teach you?
    No one likes talking about this stuff, but I've got a couple that were pretty bad. We were still figuring out the numbers we needed from our fitters and built a bike for a woman that had no stand over clearance. When we got the bike back from paint and built it up, she realized the top tube was too high and we ended up building a second bike (that she loves). The fit sheet didn't have an inseam measurement and we thought the standover measurement was the inseam. Another time we were trying different methods of alignment and had a frame with everything in it except toptube and seatstays. before we checked the alignment we completely finished the fillets (the allignment table we use is at the Bike Gallery and it takes a trip in to check a frame). Well it turns out the head tube had a twist and while giving it the business, we buckled the downtube. Man, just retelling that makes me sweat a little. But like you said, learning moments. My biggest fear is brazing a cable stop on backwards. I was building a customers custom Serotta about five years ago and it had a brake stop on backwards, I stared at it for about 5 minutes thinking I was missing something. I think about that every time I braze a stop on...

  17. #37
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by YiPsan View Post
    How does the name "Signal" comes about?

    cheers,
    It was a collaboration just like any other part of what we do. We wanted a name with multiple meanings or uses. The Signal is something that is sent out, broadcast. It's information, or a sign of something.

  18. #38
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by conorb View Post
    Matt/Nate,

    Why cyclocross? Sure, it 'effen' rules and all, but it seems that the Portland market may be a little saturated with everyone sponsoring teams. Did you both ride/race cyclocross before? I guess if you love it then that's cool; do it, but does it make financial sense? How do the team bikes differ from customer bikes? I'm thinking in terms of build and finishing, not lugs, tubes, things you can see.

    Me, I love the track, so I could see getting into that just for the love of it and not necessarily financial reasons.

    Conor
    Having a cross team in Portland makes perfect sense because it is such a big deal. I love the cross scene. It's family friendly and fun to watch. When the season starts I see people that I only see that time of the year and we catch up race each other and share a beer. Having a team lets me be a bigger part of that series and maybe it gets our name in front of people who have never seen our bikes or don't even know who we are. It does cost money, but so does setting up for bike shows, and cross is a lot more fun! I've been racing single speed since 2004. Never fast, but never last.

    You should do something at Alpenrose! Lord knows they could use all the help they can get. I'm itching to get back out on that steep, bumpy track and do some races this summer (if I can find time to build a track bike).

  19. #39
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by cardinal View Post
    ... I love the cross scene...
    Nuff said then.

    Quote Originally Posted by cardinal View Post
    You should do something at Alpenrose! Lord knows they could use all the help they can get. I'm itching to get back out on that steep, bumpy track and do some races this summer (if I can find time to build a track bike).
    I've definitely thought about it; quite a bit actually. It's a balance between resources, existing customers/clients, cash, time, etc., etc., I'm sure there's nothing in that statement that you don't already know.

    I do love riding on the track though.

    Conor

  20. #40
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    Default Re: Signal Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by cardinal View Post
    Having a cross team in Portland makes perfect sense because it is such a big deal. I love the cross scene. It's family friendly and fun to watch. When the season starts I see people that I only see that time of the year and we catch up race each other and share a beer. Having a team lets me be a bigger part of that series and maybe it gets our name in front of people who have never seen our bikes or don't even know who we are. It does cost money, but so does setting up for bike shows, and cross is a lot more fun! I've been racing single speed since 2004. Never fast, but never last.
    Do think the Cross Crusade is responsible for the boom of custom bike builders in Portland? The number of custom bikes I see at the races has been steadily multiplying over the past five years, ( mostly Vanilla at first) and last season I couldn't get over the number of custom bikes and teams. It makes for a fun day of bike ogling for sure. It must be good for business?

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