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Thread: Maietta Cycles

  1. #1
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    Default Maietta Cycles

    Many of us who build bicycle frames either as a full time profession or a legit side job were the recipients of fair bit of serendipity, blind luck, and a helping hand along the way. My story sees all three. I grew up in rural Maine and was fortunate to ride a tiny Bridgestone mountain bike when I was a kid, but there was this Cannondale down the road with these oversized tubes that I lusted after. When I was in high school I saved enough from working at Record Town to buy my very own Cannondale (an F1000 with mango paint) and I thought I had the best thing on the planet. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to be an engineer, or when I was young what I thought an “engineer” was. Remembering it now, I think I specifically wanted to be the guy who designed the shape of automobile bodies. While my dream was to attend MIT, I did follow my path and enrolled at WPI in Worcester, MA.



    I rode that first Cannondale way past when I grew out of it and eventually it was stolen from the basement of my fraternity house during college. I'm not really sure why this worked, but fortunately my parent's homeowner's insurance covered my personal belongings while I was in college, so I was able to replace the F1000 with the current model year edition. This was 2003 and it was another hard tail with the "Full Wood" paint job and a Lefty fork. Again, I thought I had the best thing on the planet. Within two weeks this bike was stolen. We didn't want to submit another claim so soon, so I was without a bike and broke like any other college student. I sent an email to my college's cycling club asking if anyone had spare parts I could buy to Frankenstein a bike together with used stuff just to have something to ride.



    One person responded and actually had enough stuff (including a frame) to build up a complete mountain bike. He said he was interning at a place across town called Hot Tubes and we could go over there late at night to use this guy's tools/stands for assembly. I met JB at the address he gave me and essentially I had a life changing moment. We put the bike together in the middle of the night and he was telling me what Toby Stanton did there with painting and building. While my father and I had built furniture from scratch, produced stained glass lamps from scratch, assembled picture frames from scratch, etc...I had a similar moment to what Sacha White said...I had a moment where I realized people built bicycles from scratch. I was hooked immediately.



    The next day I went back to Hot Tubes and asked if I could work for free and learn what he was doing. He said I could, but I don't think he thought I'd actually return. I did return and worked an hour or two basically everyday my senior year of school in between classes and crew practice. I was the grunt hand sanding stuff and doing all the dirty jobs. Zank was also working in the back and I got to become, and continue to be, good friends with him. I learned to paint first. At the time, Toby was still painting all the painted Sevens and I eventually was doing some of that work too. The frames in the 2005 catalog were painted by me. Over time he taught me to TIG weld and after about a year of practice I built my first frame.



    The summer after I graduated from WPI with a degree in mechanical engineering, 2004, I had a nave view of life. I went to bartending school and thought I would work at Hot Tubes during the day and mix drinks at night. Four months went by and my impending student loan repayment schedule snapped me back into reality. In yet another serendipitous event, the person who taught Toby to build frames, Eric de Rivera, was in Hot Tubes one day during the summer of 2004. It was the first time I had met Eric and once he heard that I was looking for a professional engineering job he referred me to his former employer, Simonds International in Fitchburg, MA. After interviewing at Simonds I was offered a job and have worked full time as a manufacturing engineer there for the last 6 years. Being a professional engineer has helped my framebuilding and framebuilding has helped me as a professional engineer. The latter more than the former I believe.



    Somewhere in these past 6 years I thought I had enough experience to build a frame for someone else. I bought liability insurance right out of the gate and the first frame I built was for the daughter of John Langdon, who designed my logo. Having a steady “day-job” has allowed me to take my time starting the business and I have assembled a collection of the best tools in the trade to compliment my continued learning process. I continue to paint all my own frames. There is a comfort knowing that I do not need to build bikes to put a roof over my head or to put food on my table, but there is not a day that goes by where I don't desire to resign from my engineering job and build full time.



    I rented space from Toby and used his equipment for a couple years. Now I have my own shop, which is literally across the hall from Toby's. While we each have all of our own equipment I find myself still popping into his shop nearly everyday to say hello. I meet all of his framebuilding class students and enjoy imparting some of the knowledge I have learned to them. I am building my 45th frame as of May 2010 and average about one per month. Balancing my travel schedule for Simonds, a healthy home life, and my shop time is a struggle. While first hand experience trumps everything, I would not be where I am without having had received so much advice in the beginning.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Very serendipitous, indeed. You do some nice work, I liked the stuff you had at Richmond.
    Do you have any desire to branch out from TIG and do lugs or fillets? Also, do you like to paint or build more?
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
    Summoner of Crickets
    http://edozbicycles.wordpress.com/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/edozbicycles/
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by edoz View Post
    Very serendipitous, indeed. You do some nice work, I liked the stuff you had at Richmond.
    Do you have any desire to branch out from TIG and do lugs or fillets? Also, do you like to paint or build more?
    Thanks Eric.

    I really don't have much desire to do lugs, and even less to do fillets. I sincerely appreciate the skill needed for all three and to become proficient in any joining method takes copious amounts of practice. The main reason I prefer TIG welding is the freedom to design a frame with no restrictions on tube diameter or joining angle. I would be lying if I said it didn't have anything to do with post joining cleanup. I appreciate well executed fillet brazed frames like Steve Garro produces, I personally would prefer to TIG a joint; I just don't see the need to do the former. Something that Carl String said in a blog a while ago really resonated with me, that for steel frames in this day and age many people don't want to see the stacked dime look under the paint, they want it smooooth. I strive for that under the mask and many people ask me if my joints are fillet brazed. Thats about as good a compliment for a TIG welder as you can get.

    To be honest with you I really don't have a preference between painting and building. Each one has its own set of challenges. I find that I am able to express my artistic side (that a lug builder might do through custom shorelines) through the painting side of my business. Many of my customers understand this about and give me basic colors and ideas to use; while leaving the specifics up to me. It can be a bit intimidating presenting the final product to the customer without them knowing exactly what its going to looks like, but its worked out pretty well so far. Sometimes, its a hybrid, like the one from last week. He was VERY particular about the spacing of the down tube and top tube panels, but the rest was left up to me.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Tony,

    Hi, interesting GPS bike you had at NAHBS, any other different/creative stuff you have going on over there? Also, if you were to do a collaborative build a la Dario/Vanilla, which builder would like to collaborate with and why?
     
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by riceburner View Post
    Tony,

    Hi, interesting GPS bike you had at NAHBS, any other different/creative stuff you have going on over there? Also, if you were to do a collaborative build a la Dario/Vanilla, which builder would like to collaborate with and why?
    The GPS bike produced a lot of nice compliments at the show, but it didn't really have the bump I was hoping for. People really liked the idea of being able to find their bike if it was lost or stolen, but the the $30 per month service fee for the tracking service made it cost effective for such a small group of people. There were a lot of complications with that show bike and although I used the smallest commerically available real time GPS device, it still required a 1.75" down tube. The idea has merit, but the execution needed a lot more work.

    I am working on the design for one very special project this summer. Its for my friend (link) who was in the cycling accident and for whom I raffled the bike late last year. It is going to be a tandem for he and his girlfriend. The rear is either going to be a tryke or a conventional with adjustable stabilizers that will retract as he gets more stability. I have never built a tandem or a tryke, and I've never even seen a tandem tryke, so its going to be a real challenge. Its for such a worthy cause that it will be a real joy to do regardless of the challenges.

    As for the collaboration, I'm going to sleep on that one and get back to you in the morning.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Hi Tony, looks like you are taking a slow and steady approach to your business. Is your goal to slowly grow into framebuilding full-time or do you hope to develop your career as an engineer and maintain framebuilding as a hobby?

    Also, what type of bike turns you on the most and if you were building your own dream bike what would it be?

    Thanks and keep up the good work.
    Carl Strong
    Strong Frames Inc.
    www.strongframes.com
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    When designing frames for customers, how much of your mechanical engineering skills/knowledge do you use?
     
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by riceburner View Post
    Also, if you were to do a collaborative build a la Dario/Vanilla, which builder would like to collaborate with and why?
    While there are many of the more experienced builders I'd love to work with I have to say it would be fun to work with two of the more relatively new shops out there. I was booth neighbors with Matt and Nate from Signal Cycles at the 2008 NAHBS in Portland and took some time to meet Aaron Hayes from Courage there too. I think both of them were displaying their first frames at the show, both had amazing work (for their first ones too!), and both were really easy going. Since then I have followed their work online and had a chance to meet the Signals guys in Richmond this year. I really dig the art/industrial design background they bring to their work and could see some really cool stuff between their designs and my fab/paint.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    Hi Tony, looks like you are taking a slow and steady approach to your business. Is your goal to slowly grow into framebuilding full-time or do you hope to develop your career as an engineer and maintain framebuilding as a hobby?

    Thanks and keep up the good work.
    Thank you Carl.

    My goal is to grow this into a full time business. No question about it, I think about it everyday. It is a difficult situation with a mortgage and student loans from a private engineering school, but I know it can be done. When I am talking to prospective customers I try to convey that this is a second job more than a just hobby; mentioning that I am registered with the state, I carry insurance, etc. However, you are correct that there is a clear distinction between what I do and those who feed their families building bicycles. You are also correct in that I am trying to do it slow and steady. To me, framebuilding is not something you can dump $20K into tooling are learn along the way. I am trying to streamline my manufacturing process to be as efficient as possible; and having a steady income outside of framebuilding affords me the opportunity to do so. I see this progression lasting a few more years actually. I would imagine there will never be a good time, or a convienent time in my life to make such a leap, but my wife and want to get a few more things paid off before I do so. I have tailored my flow and business model to provide, what I believe, to be a sustainable model for when this switch does happen. There are many excellent examples of sustainability on this forum and it is definitely a motivation to join that crowd. Experience is a requisite for making the leap, but consistent and substantial orders will be the real turning point. I know reputation and the subsequent order book takes time to grow, and as long as I continue to put work out there I know I am proud of I don't mind waiting for it to happen.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    I noticed 2 mtbs on your Flickr page, are those the only ones you've built? Do you see yourself more of a road/cross builder, or are you happy to build what people come to you for?

    Btw, I love how you used (what I think to be) a seatstay bridge reinforcement under the seat binder. Very nice bike.
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
    Summoner of Crickets
    http://edozbicycles.wordpress.com/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/edozbicycles/
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl S View Post
    Also, what type of bike turns you on the most and if you were building your own dream bike what would it be?
    I have to admit I find Jeff Jone's Ti mountain bike frames to be some of the sexiest bikes out there. He hasn't uploaded much new content to his page in a while, but I always find myself going back and looking at the same pics over and over again. The curves and complexity of his work (added with the ever-present "how the f did he weld that?") make his bikes ones that I just am always absolutely awed by.

    My dream bike, as of right now, it not all the spectacular and one that I plan on building in the near future for myself. My engineering travels are always taking me to in-the-middle of nowhere places in North America and I really want my own road bike with S & S couplers, a Garmin turn by turn GPS computer. I go to places like Big Rapids, Michigan; Swan River, Manitoba; Maniwaki, Quebec; Fort St John, British Columbia; Houlton, Maine...and I just want to have my bike with me. My current road bike, Maietta #001, is not really setup for being my travel companion...and it has too much sentimental value to give to the ::cough cough:: trusted hands of Air Canada. It would be a dream to collaborate with Dario on the paint for it; maybe have he and I painting it with each working on it for 30 minutes, then swapping back and forth to see what we end up with at the end of the day.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by edoz View Post
    I noticed 2 mtbs on your Flickr page, are those the only ones you've built? Do you see yourself more of a road/cross builder, or are you happy to build what people come to you for?

    Btw, I love how you used (what I think to be) a seatstay bridge reinforcement under the seat binder. Very nice bike.
    You are correct sir, only the 2 in my portfolio. I do ride a hardtail mountain bike, and I feel comfortable designing and building them, but I get the impression the market for custom/steel/hardtail mountain bikes is a very small potion of the greater custom market. I'd love to try a full suspension frame with a Ventana rear, but haven't found the customer to do so (maybe me for next summer?). When I first started building I would take on pretty much any project, but as I get more experience, and I am not mining for orders, I have become able to build what I want (or at least is seems to have developed into that). You also attract what you know I think. As it sits right now I have a professional job and I ride on the road after work in the afternoons to release stress and enjoy being outfoors. I feel I know the needs of this customer very well and can personally relate to those needs as I design and build a frame. I don't ride, and never have been on, a fixed gear. I don't ride a city bike with baskets, racks, and mustache bars. I don't ride on a track. I don't tour with panniers. I have built frames for all these purposes, but I don't know these needs very well. As I have gained more experience I have learned to know a little more of what I don't know. While the aforementioned frames turned out well, they basically involved the cusomter giving me a geometry sheet and asking me to make "this". I know road bikes and cross bikes more than any other style, so I think I attract those customers more than anything else.

    Good catch, that is a seat stay bridge on the back of the seat tube.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Bring that bike to Austin;)
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
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    http://edozbicycles.wordpress.com/
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Tony,
    Thanks for the mention. It has been cool watching all of us new guys grow and to keep doing what we love. The class of 2008 is making some cool stuff!

    You mention making your process more efficient, a while back you posted that you were considering moving the shop to a home-based set up. Do you think this would increase productivity? Maybe just lower your overhead?

    Also, how many complete bikes do you do vs. frames as an average? Have you though about ways to sell more complete bikes?

    Thanks
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Do you think to remain on steel or extend your offer also to other materials? As cx racer how do you take recent UCI decision to open to disc brakes use? Could this influence your business? I agree on Courage and Signal cycles, they're really good examples of modern clean style steel as is your.
     
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  16. #16
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by cardinal View Post
    Tony,
    Thanks for the mention. It has been cool watching all of us new guys grow and to keep doing what we love. The class of 2008 is making some cool stuff!

    You mention making your process more efficient, a while back you posted that you were considering moving the shop to a home-based set up. Do you think this would increase productivity? Maybe just lower your overhead?
    I have had many thoughts about having my shop at home, but it hasn't happened yet. My day job is about a 30 minute, traffic-free, commute north of Worcester, MA to the city of Fitchburg, MA. My shop is a 5/10 minute drive from the day job, so it makes it really easy to get there after work, but a real pain on the weekends. The times I think most about having a shop at home are on weekend days when I need to get some work done and I'm driving 30 minutes to get there.

    I rent space in a very well refurbished old rope facory called Phoenix Park. About 10 years ago it was purchased by a local investor and he has poured millions and millions of dollars into to really make it a beautiful campus. He just finished installed Massachusetts' largest privately funded solar panel project on our roof and hillsides to produce 50% of the site's power needs. I rent about 500 square feet at a very reasonable rate; with one wall being a garage door loading dock for ample sun in the summer and easy loading of machines. While I would love to have the convienence at this point in my career (and the lack of a rent payment) there are many benefits to a place away from home. The first is that it is a vert professional environment for my customers to visit. The campus of my location is very well maintained, the bathrooms are cleaned nightly, and I am surrounded by other successful small businesses. The location is 1/4 mile from the Boston Commuter Rail stop in Shirley and is 2 miles off Route 2, about 45 minutes from Boston.

    Second, I am very focused in my shop. Once the day's Pandora station is picked I don't mess around. I don't use the internet/post on forums/design frames in my shop; my time there is extremely valuable to me. Essentially while I am sitting ay my desk at work I am planning/fantisizing/invisioning what my plan for the night is. On weeks when I am against a deadline that I have made to a customer for getting a bike out the door I'll even go over to my shop (about 10 mintues from my day job) to squeeze some work in. It may sound a little OCD, but I have to make the most of my time. That is why I have spent so much effort and money into optimizing my process. In my 500 sq ft I have everything to build (3 Nichols horizontal end mills each with a dedicated Anvil fixture, my JMan jig, welding/alignment table and brazing station) and paint a frame (sandblast cabinet, air dryer, paint booth). The layout and process has evolved over the past 2 years and I think this is the part of my framebuilding business that has been the most positively affected by my job as a manufacturing engineer. To wrap it up, I would really like the ease of being able to pop into my shop for a few minutes at a time if it were at home, but for the mentioned two reasons, I think I'll be keeping my shop and home seperate for the next bit of time.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Tony,

    Greetings from CO. My apologies for not having introduced myself during all the shows that we were both at.

    It is great to read about your journey. What are the factors that you would base on to decide when to turn full time? I am sure once there are a long list of customer waiting is one, but anything else?

    Regards,
    Renold Yip
    YiPsan Bicycles
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by HAppyKAmikaze View Post
    Do you think to remain on steel or extend your offer also to other materials?
    I do have desire to branch out, but as it stands right now I am in an equipment contraint. I weld with a Miller Maxstar 150 STH and am able to weld steel without issue. Last fall I contracted witha very experienced Boston Ti welder to come to my shop for Ti welding lessons (with the permission from the owner of the company) and while I was able to join the tubes structurally and cosmetically well, my welder's post flow argon purge setting was not sufficient. The temperature of the Ti was still above the oxidizing level when the post flow stopped, and the impurities in the air leached into the bead. I basically have the entry level Miller TIG welder, and the post flow setting is programmed directly to the motherboard of the unit; I need it to run longer. More expensive models have a dial you can adjust the post flow. I have a second argon tank, a ginormous gas lens, and all the purged heat sinks for XCr stainless, so I did talk with my local weld shop to see if we could figure something out with my baby 150 welder. I think we did figure something out, but I need to do more practice welds before I start to really market Maietta Ti frames.

    I have no interest in offering aluminum frames (and I don't even have an AC welder to do so). Tube to tube or lugged carbon is very sexy, but I have no business entering that game.

    The concept of a steel/carbon frame appeals to me and very well could be my first venture into non all steel frames. While the conotation of steel does not immediately conjure the 1930's in this neck of the woods, I feel there is a perception in the general public that steel is very old and heavy ("You mean my new bike is going to weigh under 20 lbs?!"). Though maybe just a marketing avenue, I think offering something with a more modern flair to it would help to attract those customers who have the "heavy steel" mantra deep-seeded.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by YiPsan View Post
    Tony,

    Greetings from CO. My apologies for not having introduced myself during all the shows that we were both at.

    It is great to read about your journey. What are the factors that you would base on to decide when to turn full time? I am sure once there are a long list of customer waiting is one, but anything else?

    Regards,
    Renold, thanks for the question.

    At this point my shop is setup to a level where I could use it to build full time. Some builders on here are full time with less equipment and less space than I have, so I know the setup I have would be more than sufficient. As simplistic as it sounds, it essentially boils down having a customer list that is solid (though I am sure on some level there is an omni-present anxiety among those who do this full time of when the next order will come). The longer I stay in my day job the harder the leap will be with peace of mind a bi-weekly direct deposit provides. When I get closer to the time for the ultimate decision I will consult with the folks on here whose path I would be following. While my inate nature is to jump, then look where I'm going, I take a much more pramatic approach to my framebuilding.
    Anthony Maietta
    Web Site | Blog | Flickr
    "The person who says it can not be done, should not interrupt the person doing it."
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Maietta Cycles

    How about this: have you ever been asked to build something and had to tell the prospective customer, "No, I won't/don't do that"?
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