The Long Haul with Humble Frameworks
Words and Photos by Kyle Kelley
A lot of people asked me why I was flying into Chicago for NAHBS this year when the show was another 5 hours away in Louisville, KY. Well… the answer was easy for me. I wanted to get the party started up north and keep it going all the way down south. There were friends to see, hot dogs and pizza to eat, bike shops to visit and dogs to be walked (my dog lives in Chicago). And last but not least I wanted to spend time driving down Interstate-65 through my home state of Indiana with Michael Catano from Humble Frameworks.
Michael and I have known each other for some time now. We actually met at NAHBS in Portland many moons ago and have randomly run into each other all over the country since 2008. One of my fondest memories of Michael and those spontaneous rendezvous was when we ran into each other at the Rapha Cycle Club in San Francisco. I was up from Los Angeles and Michael was back on the West Coast for a visit from Chicago. He was riding his friend’s Steve Potts Mountain Bike that day and I hear it is now part of a West Coast dowry, along with a pair of Ray Ban sunglasses and a copy of Tartine Bread, should he decide to move back to the Sunshine State. We talked about the Potts and it’s OG Paul brake levers hooked to Rollercams, Yanco’s cycling caps and the Rapha bourgeoisie which we had entered into. The weather outside was splendid and the coffee drinks were free (thanks Emily). Life was good and that’s just how we left it.
Several years passed before Michael and I ran into each other again and it happened just recently while he was in Los Angeles for an extended stay working for Pitchfork Radio. Now keep in mind Michael and I have known each other for about 7 years at this point. I wouldn’t say we were super close friends but we would talk anytime we’d see one another. And somehow during all that time – I HAD NO CLUE THAT MICHAEL BUILT BICYCLES! You’d figure that something like that would come up, right? I’ve been a huge supporter of American made bikes for awhile and I like to think I’m a pretty big supporter of my friends, too. So why didn’t Michael tell me he built bikes? At least we know where the name came from.
I introduce to you Michael Catano from Humble Frameworks. The story of why he builds bicycles has as much to do with his involvement in punk music as it does with bicycles. I’ve heard people say Michael learned everything he knows about framebuilding from Ian MacKaye. The DIY attitude in the punk scene he grew up in helped shape Michael’s approach to most things in life. So when his girlfriend at the time had trouble finding a bike to fit her short stature he decided to build her one and it never occurred to him that he couldn’t just figure it out. He did figure it out and she is still riding that first bicycle today.
Humble Frameworks is heavy on the Chicago Cyclocross scene and Michael recently did a collaboration bike with D.Klein and Cadence that was banned from the 2015 NAHBS for being entirely way too RAD! So after 7 years of having no clue Michael Catano built bicycles, I was quick to put my name down on the list for a Humble.