Pursuit Cycles Was Born from Strong Frames

Subverting adages is something Carl Strong has made a career from. Take the classic quote by Keith Bontrager: “Light, Cheap, and Strong, pick two.” That old saying need not apply here, because a Strong Frame is light and cheap when you consider “knowledge is wealth” and when you buy a Strong Frame, you’re buying some of that knowledge earned through a lifetime of building bikes.

Carl Strong began to tinker with making bicycle frames in the late 80’s, before setting up shop in his grandma’s garage in the early 90’s. Now, over 3,000 frames later, he is smashing yet another adage: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” Not that Carl is a dog but you get the idea. This year, Carl had a big announcement for the industry. He has built another brand, all within the walls of his small, yet efficient shop in Bozeman, Montana: Pursuit Cycles.

Materiality

How can you be a master framebuilder when you’ve only mastered a few frame materials? After a lifetime of building with steel and titanium, Carl felt it was time for a sea change, a challenge, a new feat of engineering, a new brand. Pursuit Cycles was born from Carl’s honest, inquisitive nature. What would a carbon fiber Strong Frames look like? What could it look like and should it be a Strong, or something new? After working with a few engineers, Kyle Rohan and Jeff Wyatt, Carl pulled together a business plan for what would become Pursuit Cycles, a very literal take on Carl’s desire to offer only the best bikes for his customers, present, past, and future.

Shop Space

After a series of shop spaces, Carl finally moved his facilities to his home in Bozeman in 2013. He and his team, including his wife Loretta, have had quite the journey over the years and Strong Frames’ shop space is a living testament to decades of fabrication in the cycling industry. From mills used by Ibis in their early years to magazine clippings questioning the “end of the hardtail” – funny how the industry paints a picture of impending doom for that platform – and other cycling ephemera. Inside these two bay doors Carl and his team design, spec, fabricate and assemble beautifully-crafted complete bicycles under the Strong Frames and Pursuit Cycles labels.

Amazingly so, the carbon fiber production could fit into a large suburban closet in a master suite, with the largest spatial requirement being the carbon fiber cutting table. The rest consists of a library of CNC milled production molds, as well as an alignment table, and stand. Very little machinery is required to get a Pursuit rolling out the door and say what you will about steel or titanium bikes, but the whole Pursuit process feels so space-aged and streamlined compared to traditional tig welding procedures.

End Game

All Carl Strong has wanted to do in his life is to make the best bikes possible and I commend him in keeping Strong Frames upon the announcement of Pursuit Cycles. Yes, Carl is still making handmade frames under Strong Frames, so don’t fret if you were thinking about ordering one. Right now, Pursuit is marketed as a limited edition endeavor, with their flagship model, aptly named the Mark I, being limited to 35 pieces and available in three colors. These frames epitomize the height of carbon fiber technology and are fine-tuned to deliver an exceptional, unrivaled ride. After all, why would Carl Strong pursue anything else?

Adages might be succinct ways to tell life’s greatest lessons, but for Carl Strong, there is but one that still applies: “Practice makes perfect.”

There is a whole world of data available on both of these brands, at their respective websites. I’d like to invite those curious to browse Strong Frames and Pursuit Cycles for more information. Pricing for a Strong Frame begins at $2,200, with pricing for a Mark I Pursuit beginning at $5,800 for a frameset.

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Follow Strong Frames on Instagram and follow Pursuit Cycles on Instagram.

  • Piet Smuss

    Great stuff! Such a cool way to reinvent yourself….. although the head badge really reminds me of Soulcraft (but that’s not a bad thing really :))

  • Andrew Burton

    Cool shop and project, but forgive me if I don’t believe that “these frames epitomize the height of carbon fiber technology” for a hot second. He’s made what, 40 carbon frames tops? (This limited edition run and a handful of prototypes i’m guessing.) Pretty sure a company that’s made more than a single run of frames might be a little bit more advanced in this department.

    • Andy B

      It’s not Carl alone, he’s partnered with composite industry folks. There’s been some good press in recent past, but this link provides some insight… https://pursuitcycles.com/experience/team/

      • That’s a good way to put it.

      • Thanks for sharing that Andy. One big difference between Pursuit and Strong is that Strong is just me, while Pursuit is a team with several partners. One of Pursuits owners, heading up engineering, is Jared Nelson. Jared has been in and around the bike and composites biz for 25 years. He holds a PhD in mechanical engineering with a composites focus, teaches at a university in NY and is currently working on some pretty cool cutting edge testing and validation methods that we are lucky enough to take advantage of. He is one of the reasons it was possible to start Pursuit. So we are a new company and Harry’s is correct that we haven’t built a ton of bikes yet, but we do have three engineers on the team and draw on their experience. And the that’s important because doing a good job with composites requires a lot of engineering.

    • What I was trying to communicate is these frames use cutting edge technology – the best available at the moment.

  • Harry

    The head tube badge is fantastic

    • AngryBikeWrench

      Agree. One of my all-time favorites.

  • AngryBikeWrench

    As someone fascinated by manufacturing and fabrication, I’m enjoying that, as carbon becomes more and more common, it’s becoming less and less mysterious. Used to be, a company using removable silicone molds didn’t talk about it or allow it to be photographed, because it was such cutting edge manufacturing technology (in the bike industry at least). They’d just say, “Our exclusive technology doesn’t leave any extraneous material in the tubes.” or something like that. Now it’s become common enough that we get to see molds and bladders.

    • Yep! Truthfully, I was surprised Carl and his team were ok with me photographing the process. Many other times with carbon manufacturing, I’ve been told no photos.

  • AdamBike99

    Cool news. And what a beautiful frame.

    Seeing another amazing custom option like this begs the question: why does anyone (besides wealthy Sky fanboys) spend way more money on an off-the-peg Pinarello Dogma??

  • Matt Jacobs

    What a cool look inside a shop like this. It’s hard to make production parts from any sort of mold – I recently made some molds for plastic business cards with some engraving, and the CNC time alone would have been cost-prohibitive to anyone without the access to mills (I am lucky to do so through a local university). These molds don’t appeared to be water-cooled, perhaps that has helped to save some cost. I’m impressed Strong is able to do carbon production at this scale and (presumably) have the end goal of making money at it.

  • Cody Leuck

    Love it, want one. Great work