“I don’t have a studio, I have a workshop. I’m not an artist, I’m a fabricator…”
We were talking about the mystique surrounding custom frames and the public’s perception, or in many cases the perpetuation of preciousness associated with “bespoke” frames. Cameron Falconer isn’t an artist, he makes straight forward, utilitarian machines meant to shred. Sure, they’re tailored to fit and Cam’s years of racing and riding influence a lot of their nuances (water bottle cage placement for example) but these are bicycles, not art…
Falconer’s background in frame building began with Ed Litton, one of the lesser-known builders in the area. For over two years, he learned everything from tubing selection to mitering, prep, fillet brazing and how to finish frames. Fillet brazing was cool, but it was time-intensive and thus, costly. It wasn’t until he left Litton’s shop to work at an architectural fabrication studio that he finally found a procedure in which he could identify with: tig welding.
From there, Falconer began to take flight. He quit the full-time hustle of the architectural world and began building bikes for friends, or small production runs for brands. Over the next few years, Cameron built a steady clientele who wanted bikes to ride in and to the dirt paths, tracks and tails in the bay area.
Fast forward to 2015, he’s been building for five years, three of which full time. He still picks up metal fab work from time to time but Cam’s queue is reasonable and frames, affordable. His price for a frame starts at $1,800 including a solid color powder. He’s busy, but he’s still riding bikes as much as he can.
Oh and racing cross. I hear he’s good at that too…
Falconer Cycles is located off Yosemite St in SF, across from the “other” Trouble Coffee shop. Clients have a 15 minute ride from the Mission, or can access his shop from just about anywhere in the Bay Area easily. He lives in Fairfax, takes the ferry into the city each morning and tries to get in a good amount of riding time. You know, where you can fit it in.
Luckily for Cam, his apartment is at the base of Mt. Tam and its wonderful, diverse riding.
After a shop visit, a burrito, a quick pedal to the ferry, we were on our way to ride. Cameron was on his 140mm hardtail 29’r and I was on my rigid IF. He took me on a quick loop and we were both able to get a feel for the other’s capabilities.
“Hey, go do that again, I love the dusty light explosion…” Let me tell you, watching a framebuilder like Cam ride is way more fun than watching him build. Although the building process is much easier to document.