Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Short Chat with Steve Garro of Coconino Cycles

I certainly have not heard of every framebuilder in the USA, not even close. So I was not surprised when one whom I did not recognize contacted me after I posted a note on the framebuilders forum at Steve Garro sent me a nice response, telling me about his framebuilding business, Coconino Cycles, named after the Coconino region in northern Arizona. I did not recognize his name, but I followed the link to his website and was delighted by what I saw there. Steve builds beautiful bicycles of various shapes and sizes, with graceful curves where many bikes have straight lines. He builds lots and lots of ATBs, which is not surprising considering that he lives in Flagstaff Arizona, where millions of acres of mountainous open space beckon in every direction. He also builds road bikes, all-rounders, etc., but I will let him tell the rest of the story.

Steve Garro, hard at work

Q: Your website looks like you build mostly mountain bike frames. Is that true? Do you prefer either ATBs, commuter bikes or road bikes, or do you love 'em all?

A: I LOVE EM' ALL, but my following mostly wants MTBs, 29ers, heavy-duty touring bikes, and the occasional 700c all-rounder/road/commuter type bike.

Is it a cruiser? A 29er? Does it matter on a bike this lovely?

Q: Your frames tend to involve lots of curved tubing. I love that. What are your reasons for incorporating so many curves? How much extra work does it add?

A: Curved tubing just has a cool look that sets my work apart from most but not all builders. It does add time, but I've become so accustomed to it that it doesn't really take me much longer. About 7/8th-ish of my frames have a curved toptube now. I did a straight one the other day and botched the miter; I was so used to doing curved ones. My segmented s-bend seatstays, now those are time sinks! I figure if it cinches the deal it's worth it. Plus, if it's not visually pleasing to me then I'm not into it, and if I'm not into it, why do it?

Segmented s-bend seatstays by Coconino

Q: How do your bikes fit into the "real world?"

A: Just fine, I guess. They get ridden all over the world. People love their bikes!

Q. Your frames start at $1500. This is certainly not an astronomically high price, and many custom builders charge much more, but neither is it at the low end of the custom frame price scale. How did you arrive at your pricing structure? Does someone buying a Coconino frame get something which is missing from a lower-priced custom frame? Do your frames lack anything that a buyer might get from a builder charging twice as much?

A: I do a cost analysis on my materials, add my time, and look at the prices of builders I consider my peers. Every Coconino is built to as high of a standard as I can build it, and that's really high.

That is some good looking fillet brazing!

Q: What's the cycling community like in Flagstaff? Is it practical for a person to use a bicycle as his/her primary mode of transportation in the wide-open, mountainous areas in northern Arizona?

A: Flagstaff is a wonderful place to live and not own a car. There is a great network of urban trails, and the mountain biking just doesn't get any better.

Q: What do you see as the bicycle's role in the overall transportation picture in the USA?

A: A growing one, hopefully!

A curved top tube cross bike

Q: Do you work alone, or does Coconino have other employees? How many frames do you build each year? Would you like Coconino to grow, or do you like it at its current size and production rate?

A: Coconino is just me. It's always going to be that way. It gives me ultimate quality control. I do between 30-40 frames a year, and a lot are complete bikes.

Q: What bike(s) do you recommend for someone who cannot afford a new, custom bike?

A: Something old with style and fresh grease in all the bearings.

A bike built to take on the mountains, sans shifting

Q: What else would you like to say?

A: Rock on!

Q: What do you like for breakfast?

A: Mexican food and coffee, coffee, coffee.


Mimbres Man said...

Steve rocks and his bikes are killer! He's the best cyclist I've ever seen.

Kristina said...

My Coconino is one of my best pals. Steve sure knows how to shred and it shows in his artistic creation of a tough MTB