Burning the Wax from the Feathers: Ian Sutton of Icarus Frames


Burning the Wax from the Feathers: Ian Sutton of Icarus Frames


By now you’ve probably heard me mention that I’m working with Ian at Icarus on a Columbus MAX track bike. Last week, I visited Ian at his studio in Somerville within the Fringe Union and we discussed my bike: how I’d be using it, what angles and geometry I would like, the detailing and even the fork choice. While I can’t post photos of Ian’s sketches, or even mention any of the detailing, I can present to you a few photos from the Icarus studio.

Check out more photos from my visit to Ian Sutton and Icarus below!


As the Icarus number 01 sits in the afternoon sunlight, Ian and I discussed what this project’s intent would be. I’ve raced at the track before and would love to continue doing so here in Texas but the number one use for this bike will be a street machine.


Ian already sketched out a few ideas for lug treatments and how to work around the massive tubing diameters of Columbus MAX, a notoriously stiff and rigid steel tubeset that is now being re-issued by Columbus.


One of the details that I’m stoked to share with you guys is the incorporation of the new Aarn Wrks Dsn Icarus track ends. Ian is still working out a few things such as the type of brass used in the inlay. If it’s too hard, it won’t hold a track nut and if it’s too soft, it’ll chew up. Finding the right hardness will be key to the longevity of these unique track ends.


For the first time ever, I saw a very serious side of Ian. There were no jokes, no snarky commentary, just business and creativity.


He began to discuss lugwork and treatments and we went over preferences of mine. I’m 220 lbs and 6’2″ so MAX just fits me perfectly. I’ve ridden an Merckx MX-L road bike long enough to know that this tubeset was made for the bigger riders.


Once we finished my fit and preference discussion, Ian showed me some of his current projects. This frame was fresh out of the bath and had yet to be finished. This is what a frame looks like once all the flux is removed and the sanding has yet to commence.


This client wanted the elegance of a wishbone seatstay but was pushing the weight limitation for such a detail so Ian took some creative licensing and designed a reinforced wishbone.


The demand for a strong and reliable singlespeed frame is on the rise. People want options with their frames and this client will be riding this bike in SF once it’s back from paint.


Even as I photographed this bike, Ian pointed out all the little details that he worked around. The headbadge will undergo the same finishing as the brazing. Once this bike is cleaned up, it’ll posses sharp edges and the clean lines that Ian is known for.


Internal cable routing, bottle braze-ons and bigger clearances show how this single-speed cross bike is city-ready. But that’s not what I want to go for with my bike.


I want a tough and mean track machine with traditional angles, toe overlap and a tight wheelbase but with the capability of fitting a larger tire in the back to support my curb hopping tendencies.


But it’s gotta have that Icarus elegance and that’s where the challenge lies.


Just as everything Ian puts his mind to, I have full confidence this bike will rule!


Dando’s bike is being prepped for paint shortly.


And with its classic lines and geometry, Ian’s working towards the stylish and in-demand rando frames.


Moving from project to project keeps Ian on his toes and makes Icarus a well-rounded frame company. I can’t wait to continue chatting with him about my track bike and soon enough, we’ll be seeing some progress!

Check out a slideshow of more photos below (you can’t see these through RSS so click here to view them).

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These photos are also at my Flickr!