Behind his house in central Austin, in a tiny space decked out with machinery, an industrial oven, and a peg-board holding tools and designs, Nick Crumpton transforms the raw material of carbon fiber into sleek, lightweight riding machines.
Crumpton is one of a few high-end custom bike makers shaping frames from carbon fiber, a material that allows him to bump personalization up to a higher level.
“I like carbon fiber because I can really tune the characteristics of each tube of the bike in a way you can’t do with a metal,” he says. “Because we are working with a textile, we can stack the fiber so the bike will respond differently; I can make a frame that is really stiff in one direction but really soft or compliant in another.”
Crumpton, who’s been fixing bikes since 1988 and building them since 1995, takes an active role in every stage of the process, from fitting his riders to helping them select paint colors. Watching him pull the long black tubes of malleable fiber from the oven, it’s difficult to imagine that these will later become the shiny, finished-out masterpieces drying in the studio next door.
“Building with carbon fiber is a ton to keep track of,” Crumpton says. “It was a lot easier 20 years ago when I was buying the steel tube sets from a distributor and just breaking out my torch and blazing them together. But it’s worth it. The feedback and smiles I get are the payoff.”
Call 512/459-7458. www.crumptoncycles.com. Consultations by appointment.