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Thread: Vulture Cycles

  1. #1
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    Default Vulture Cycles

    Howdy, I am Wade Beauchamp (beechum) , my nickname is “Vulture” and so my bike frame company is called Vulture Cycles. Simply put I got the nickname Vulture from liking and being like a Vulture, not so pretty on the ground, but graceful at soaring. I know there are people who will not buy a bike from a company named Vulture, for instance, a local Air life pilot thought there might be some political ramifications from riding to work and having a Vulture in the hanger…I built my first frame in November 1996 in Flagstaff Az. I was working at a great bike shop pretending to be interested in college. Along the way my boss had built a couple of frames so he loaned me his tanks and torch and I built a frame. It was crooked and weird, and somehow rode great no hands. I wasn’t internet savvy at the time so I just solved my own problems and created some more. The tubing was Phil Wood oval tandem tubing for top and down tube and I brazed it all with flux coated rod. I filed off as much brass as I put on many times over but I was hooked and figured if I learned how to fabricate I could always get a good job. I build a couple more frames in Flagstaff and off I went to the Navajo Reservation where my then girlfriend was a teacher. We lived in teacher housing which was like mobile apartments so I used the spare bedroom as a bike shop mitering zone and brazed some of the frame in the bathroom because it had a vent fan and linoleum floor. One year on the Rez was enough so we moved to Bend OR in 1998 and here I still am. I scored a cool job at a racecar fuel tank manufacturer, and in a week had work to do on a lathe, mill and tig welder. My job was cool there because I was the in between guy who just made the non production parts to fill quick and weird orders, I got to use all of the tools everyday and had some great teachers, people who could build anything they wanted and expected me to do the same. I built fixtures and frames there and would work all night long on bikes and bike frame building tools. I moved down the street and got a job as a CNC operator for rock climbing equipment. There was lots of cool equipment to build bikes with but operating 6 CNC machines making millions of little parts was hellish for me, luckily I was laid off in February of 2003. Garro was at my place building some of his first frames when I got let go and helped me get my stuff out of work. Yes, piles of Vultured metal. Along this time I got married, bought a house and my son was born. In the summer of 2003 I went to UBI for Ti frame class and a fillet brazing class, both experiences were really cool. This was Vulture Cycles first full time gig although I was separated and on my way to divorce. I had equal divided custody (still do) of my son and there were some challenges to raising a 1 year old and starting a bike company. In January of 2004 a friend and I bought out a tandem company located in Bend and instantly grew too fast. It cost my friend what his grandparents had left him and all of what I got from selling my house from the divorce. My friend had painted at another frame company in Oregon and was a talented painter but the way we built bikes was just crazy. We had multiple lathes and welders and mills and even a multi head frame mitering machine that cut both ends of the tube at once and drilled the water bottle holes for down tubes or top tubes. In 2005 we broke up and I moved what I had left to my garage, he still painted some frames for me but moved away not long after. I moved my shop to my grandfather’s garage in a rural area outside of Bend and it is still there. From Aug of 2006 to October of 2008 I had a job tig welding cromoly aircraft frames and parts. I really liked that job, great people and excellent skills improvement and welding knowledge, but when the economy crashed well, I was back in the shop building bikes, and that brings us to now. My kid is 8 and Vulture Cycles is 14. I am 39 and throughout this adventure I have had some successes and failures. People have been on the podium and I have burned bridges. I wish I could say that every client was happy but I cannot, I have built steel frames that have broken, some were my fault some weren’t but nobody got hurt and they all were fixed or replaced, even when I was working for someone else. In business I have robbed Peter to pay Paul, but I always paid Peter back and I have only had one customer who had to wait for more than a year from deposit, but that turned into a feature. I am proud that I built all of my own tooling and am lucky to have great friends and family that have helped me all along the way.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    So when is the dual suspension tall-tandem hitting the market?

    Wade, you have been knocking out some cool stuff for quite a while- were you building (and selling) during the forays into other industries, or where those "breaks" for Vulture?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Thanks for playing, Wade. Wade is one of my best friends in the world, one of the most solid guys I know, A bad-ass fabricator in every way, and a real kook in an awesome way. check out his work, it is unique and better made then almost anything I can think of. never change, Man. see you in Oakridge on Sept. 17th - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    It's great to get a little history Wade. Thanks for posting, I'd love to get to meet you some day down the road. I'm picturing that fillet brazing in the bathroom of a mobile home in my head!
    Where do you see your business going? Do you see yourself focusing mainly on the tig off road niche?
    Thanks, Craig
     

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Hi Wade,

    Sounds like you've had a very bumpy road. I think my wife would have cut my head for even bringing a torch into the house.

    What bump on that road kicked you up the highest? In other words, what setback turn out to be your biggest blessing?
    Cheers
    Kevin

    PolyTube Cycles

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Wade,
    I have always enjoyed your honest approach to this business, and building in general. I respect and love how you tell things, never stray from that.
    erik
    the Peacock Groove guy.
     

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Dang Wade, you're a trooper. I couldn't imagine trying to make a living building bikes and feeding a kid. Does he ever help? That could be pretty cool, passing stuff along like that. My son's not that interested, but I think if I got him hooked up with an airbrush things could take off.

    Anyway, I've seen a fair number of your bikes. Very few of them look the same, you always seem to be doing something different. I like it, but do you feel like it's had an effect on your brand at all? Has it turned people off to Vulture or attracted them to you, or both? Do you ever get requests for something out of the ordinary because of that?

    And why the hell aren't you more popular? You should get way more exposure than you do, building stuff like that full suspension bike and the frame with the twin square top tube/seatstays.
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
    Summoner of Crickets
    http://edozbicycles.wordpress.com/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/edozbicycles/
    In Before the Lock

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Oops hope this isnt a double reply. This version will be shorter. Eric, I built frames all along while being gainfully employed by others. The sheer amount of cromo available while building planes was crazy, I got to experiment a bunch and also help some of my friends at work build frames too. I also did repairs or warranty work when I had to. Kevin, the biggest bump was getting divorced, but the benefits were having to become a way better dad instantly, and though I respect my ex wife, she never really believed in Vulture Cycles, she tolerated it but thought it would pass on, my gal now is super helpful and really believes in me no matter what I pursue. How many of us here would be where we are without the help and support of our sig others? Craig, I'll be in Austin, and who the hell knows what I will bring. I am re re re writing my business plan and the style of frame is not really part of it. I want to be well versed. I have a lot of tig hours under my belt but I appreciate and enjoy brazing, right now my que has more "town and country" bikes than just strait dirt rigs, and I really want to get some time to build myself a cool tig welded road bike, yeah with a long head tube for femur/gut clearance. Erik (PG) thanks, whenever I ride my bike I feel like I'm pulling one over on the " MAN" and so when I build bikes I feel like I'm helping someone else do the same thing, Bikes are special, theres the homeless schizophrenics riding the hell out of them and the mega rich riding too, maybe not together but they are riding. We make these things. We are lucky that other people give a shit about us. I hope my model is sustainable and I only strive to improve on all fronts. I can't stand arrogance, especially with framebuilders. I think Ross Schaefer said something about not curing cancer or sending a man to the moon, but we must do the best job we are capable of. That said, Steve Garro has taught me a bunch more than I have taught him and I usually laughed my ass off while I was learning it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Edoz, I think the "branding" and marketing of Vulture Cycles has been at best a fiasco. I have an uncanny knack for anti marketing, saying just the wrong thing because it is funny as hell. Any exposure I don't have is my own fault. I don't blog enough, I don't post on forums enough and I am not organized enough in my framebuilding practice. Simply if I built more frames faster and documented that process better I would sell more frames and it would grow like cancer. Right now that is what I am working on. Building frames with different shapes and tubing is pretty fun but coming from some production experience makes me want to to 20 seat tube subs and etc, make a whole bunch of the same thing and watch the efficiency pin the gauge. Unfortunately thats not custom. Rio thinks he can make anything, but he wants his next bike to have flames.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by vulture View Post
    Edoz, I think the "branding" and marketing of Vulture Cycles has been at best a fiasco. I have an uncanny knack for anti marketing, saying just the wrong thing because it is funny as hell. Any exposure I don't have is my own fault. I don't blog enough, I don't post on forums enough and I am not organized enough in my framebuilding practice. Simply if I built more frames faster and documented that process better I would sell more frames and it would grow like cancer. Right now that is what I am working on. Building frames with different shapes and tubing is pretty fun but coming from some production experience makes me want to to 20 seat tube subs and etc, make a whole bunch of the same thing and watch the efficiency pin the gauge. Unfortunately thats not custom. Rio thinks he can make anything, but he wants his next bike to have flames.
    Jeezus, somebody get Mr Strong on the phone. You've got too much talent not to be a frakkin framebuilding rock star. If I ever get up there to visit Jason and Theresa, I'll be trying to sweep some of that stuff up off the floor and stuff it in my head:)
    Eric Doswell, aka Edoz
    Summoner of Crickets
    http://edozbicycles.wordpress.com/
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/edozbicycles/
    In Before the Lock

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Hi Wade,

    thanks for sharing your story.

    I've read something somewhere that you stopped building bikes unitl your kid is old enough to help in the shop. I would like to know how you deal with kid and framebuilding?

    Also, working with curved and shaped tubing, how many feet of tubing you threw out in the bin before getting the desired shape?

    Thanks!

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    I've got to chime in and say that you are without a doubt one of the most gifted builders I've ever seen and your marketing skills blow. Too harsh?
    That said, don't change Wade Beauchamp one iota. You are Vulture Cycles and that's way way cool. The world is full of bobbleheaded idiots without strong opinions and self awareness, you'll never suffer that fate and it is noticed. Thanks.

    I've got questions for you coming. The most immediate thing I'd like to ask is would you ever consider producing an Model T version of a Vulture Cycle eg "you can get it in any color you want so long as it is black"....one "signature" model and done your way avail. in a range of sizes and IF you would do that what would it look like? If that's a solid "He!! no" than tell me why. Peace, Toots

    PS Add some pics of your fav. work ASAP yo.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Wade,
    you hit it on the head for me with the marketing jive.
    While I may be saying something that a few will disagree with on here, but there are more than a couple frame builders who have marketed themselves more than be a builder.
    When I started everyone told me to take out an ad, market market market! But, I had NOTHING to market. I had all the skills to make bikes at that point, but with no Groove to take pictures of, I told these people that in order to market your product, you should have one. I was too busy at that point making bikes to stop for some photo shoot. Since then I have just made bikes, and when people like them I think that that is the best "marketing" I can do.I have worked in a place that would market up the ass, and the funny thing was that the bikes were HORRIBLE, they had a 27 percent fail rate. But they were so hot! I think that backing up bullshit product with pictures is shit way to do business. Product proves itself on the trail, road and at the races.
    Wade, you are doing it right I think, and if it works fore you, then Rock On.
    I guess this was more of a rambling compliment of sorts....
    erik
    Oh yeah, that ribbed Ultrastrong from Garro rocks, dosent it?!?!?!
     

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Quote Originally Posted by liberacefanboy View Post


    Oh yeah, that ribbed Ultrastrong from Garro rocks, dosent it?!?!?!
    ribbed for your building pleasure! - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    How about some pics of: your latest tandem & the custom racks w/mounting detail, your new dropouts, some of your titanium work & that bitchin' new double squish you are rockin'. what's the ride verdict on that one? - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Thanks All, I will post pics from a less geriatric computer later.
    Too Tall, your assessment of my marketing skills was not harsh, just accurate. As per what Erik is saying, making the bikes is key and I have a goal and plan for maintaining better post-delivery customer service. If I can make it easy for my customers to help me market bikes that will be in my favor. I can’t be friends with every customer but maintaining a relationship is crucial and I must work on that. I read “Wheels for the World” a biography of Henry Ford and I think about it often. A model T bike concept is not far off from what is going on with Speedwagen in my opinion, thinking about bikes as groups instead of individuals would require me to get my Poop more Grouped but I think there would be some satisfaction of building a stack of similar frames. Maintaining a custom feel with a point of purchase product and still make a dollar is the big challenge. I think it would be a Town and Country rural commuter. Urban commuters don’t fit my geography. Lots of dirt roads and elbow room here.
    Steve, I love the double boinger as much as I hate to admit it. I still want a ti single speed too.

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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Angry Bee's Titanium dirt roadster just showed up - nice work, Wade! I dig the dropouts... He is really stoked - Garro.
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Cool. Thanks.

    YES, the tandem with racks is the nuts. So much work in that frame and fixtures, do you ever sleep?!

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Wade - Angry Bee got his Titanium 'cross frame just fine. he is crazy stoked - Garro.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Steve Garro, Coconino Cycles.
    Frames & Bicycles built to measure and Custom wheels
    Hecho en Flagstaff, Arizona desde 2003
    www.coconinocycles.com
    www.coconinocycles.blogspot.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Vulture Cycles

    Angry Bee's Ti bike looks great! Good work Wade!
     

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