Stephen Wood, of Swood Cycles, has been making custom steel frames and racks in Richmond, VA for a couple of years now. At this year’s Philly Bike Expo, Jarrod Bunk linked up with Stephen to photograph his eleventh Swood frame, the “Irie” Road+. Below, Stephen offers a few insights into his trajectory of becoming a framebuilder and, paired with Jarrod’s photos, walks us through this stunningly detailed machine.
Swood Cycles has existed for a little over two years. In the beginning, I was still riding a desk as a software engineer, building bikes in the evenings and on the weekends. I’ve since stepped away from the desk work, at least in a full-time capacity, and I have a small queue of custom builds that will keep me busy for a while. My main business has been focused on manufacturing the popular Twisted T-Bar racks. Having this small product has really given me a taking-off point as a business. The racks are relatively easy to make and have provided regular income, allowing me to continue to improve my framebuilding tool collection and associated skills.
The rasta-inspired bike that was at PBE (dubbed ‘Irie’) was the 11th Swood Cycles frame. It’s a mix of Columbus and Dedaccai tubing joined by bronze fillet brazing. It features internal tube-in-tube rear brake routing, an integrated seatpost, custom seatmast topper, stainless steel badges, 44mm headtube, and T47 bottom bracket.
Despite its gearing and component choices, it is intended as an endurance road+ bike. With a 50 tooth Garbaruk chainring up front, paired with 10-28 Sram Red AXS and Kogel ceramic jockey wheels in the rear, it’s no slouch. At the same time, it won’t be seeing any hills as it lives in the flatlands of Virginia’s Tidewater area.
The build is finished off with Carbon Industry Nine Torch wheels, an Enve Road Disc Fork, and a full Zipp carbon cockpit. The paint, which was the first wet paint job I’ve had done on a frame, was by Gordon Freedman of Cycle Classics in Portsmouth, VA.
I’m still trying to find the right balance between framebuilding and software work. With that and my current build queue, I’m not currently taking on new frame commissions, though I do intend to reevaluate in the new year. Details on the T-Bars and my custom build process can be found on my website.