Wild Card Bicycles: A Designer’s Dream Build and a Brand Overview

With the pandemic halting all bicycle shows like NAHBS and various Open House events, we’ve been scouring the ‘net for framebuilders to feature here on the website. Sort of like keeping the NAHBS spirit alive if you will. Today, we’re thrilled to host a showcase Reportage from Jay Sandefur, a framebuilder hailing from Alabama, and owner of Wild Card Bicycles, with exceptional photos and video provided by Jordan Mahy of Mahy Visual, and words by Jay, so let’s drop in…

Wild Card Bicycles Started with a Crit Bike

In the ’80s, I was in the throes of national criterium racing. Try as I might, my strategy was limited by a problem: pedaling through the corner. In the crit world, attacks are often, fast, and frequently come out of a corner – the rider that can take the corner fastest and resume pedaling soonest has the upper hand. I was frustrated that I could take a corner with speed but pedaling sooner increased my risk of striking the pavement with my cleat.

Frames with a higher bottom bracket that would allow me to cover and attack corners didn’t exist. With no frame manufacturers meeting my needs, I decided to make my own.

Decades later, and with hundreds of hand-fabricated frames in my archives, I offer customers the experience and skill needed to craft a bike that fits their unique goals. Each bike that leaves my shop, whether a bare frame or full build, responds to your needs and dreams in form, function, finish, and construction.

That was true for my crit bike in the ’80s, and it’s true for every bike that leaves my shop today.

Jonathan’s Steel Dirt Road

After a decade of road riding on carbon frames, Jonathan was ready for something different. A fully custom, steel Dirt Road was the solution, ready to explore the best that Alabama’s countryside has to offer.

Jonathan’s build is ready for anything he might throw at it. The SRAM Force AXS and Eagle mullet drivetrain paired beautifully with Ingrid’s machined, all-black crankset, chainring, and cassette. A full ENVE cockpit, including their flared gravel bars, are great for comfort and control on rough descents. The ENVE G23 wheels are currently set up with Rene Herse’s Snoqualmie Pass 700x44c, though there’s plenty of additional space for some chunkier knobbies if desired. Final touches like the Paul seatpost clamp, industry-standard King Cages, 3D printed brass headtube badge, and custom paint details really set this bike off.


This bike was actually the subject of a recent dream build video. It was great to see one of my custom frames built up by someone with a similar attention to detail, and I highly recommend checking it out.

Jordan’s Titanium Gravel Bike

Jordan came to me with lots of ideas for his custom off-road frame, though the one that stuck out the most was probably, “Exploration ready and party mode equipped.”

While big-box frames with marginal tire clearance are a dime a dozen, Jordan was thirsty for thrills, with more rowdiness and a spirit of adventure. Lastly, he had a specific aesthetic with plenty of small details to implement.

While we used the Wild Card Dirt Road as a baseline, Jordan quickly realized he wanted to go Fully Wild with custom geometry. I specced a custom blend of incredibly light and durable titanium tubing and designed it to be used in conjunction with ENVE’s incredible gravel fork.

We paired SRAM’s Force AXS shifters with the Eagle XX1 AXS rear derailleur for the build. The Ingrid 12-speed cassette and White Industries’ G30 crankset round out the drivetrain and provide ample room in the rear triangle. I also laced Belgium G alloy hoops to White Industries’ polished CLD hubs for that extra touch of class. Rolling on Rene Herse’s new Oracle Ridge rubber, he’s ready for exploring and partying.

One of Jordan’s favorite features of this build was the SimWorks x Golden Saddle Cyclery Smog Cutter bars, which have zero flare. While aluminum, the grey anodizing matches the bare titanium on the rest of the frame perfectly.

Jordan’s wife, Audrey, helped contribute palette inspirations. We color-matched Farrow & Ball’s “India Yellow” for the primary color, and the inner fork features “Palm Leaf” by Sherwin Williams. Lastly, it’s hard to resist leaving a portion of any titanium frame bare, and he happily obliged with his rear triangle and decals. Jordan has already put this machine to work, evidenced by the texts he sends me after a good ride.

They usually start with, “I’m very lost and slightly up a creek without a paddle…” and I love it.