Handmade in Istanbul: A Visit to Soulrider Frameworks in Türkiye

It was back in 2020, during my first bike tour through southern Turkey, that I first became aware of Soulrider Frameworks via Instagram. Based in the heart of Istanbul, just a stone’s throw from the Bosphorus Strait that separates Europe and Asia, Yasin Bingöl runs a one-man show, building custom bikes from the first design ideas to the final build and everything in between.

Yasin’s passion for riding came as a kid growing up in the town of Şile on the coast of the Black Sea. He was racing mountain bikes at age 20 and soon switched to the road. The seed of his hobby colliding with his career came when he had the idea to build a custom carbon fiber frame for his metallurgical engineering master’s thesis while in college in 2006.

With one frame under his belt, becoming a professional framebuilder didn’t immediately jump out as a potential career path, but around ten years after building that first carbon frame, and with the gradual rise in popularity of road cycling throughout Turkey, he decided to make a few steel frames for himself and his buddies around town. There aren’t many frame builders in Turkey to learn from, so he would have to forge his own path. In doing so, Yasin used his prior knowledge of welding and materials as he scoured books and YouTube videos for every scrap of frame-building info he could find, while simultaneously practicing and honing his technical skills. You could say his approach is the modern-day version of being self-taught; a lot of trial and error accompanied a lot of sifting through the world wide web.

Not long after those first few bikes were made—as boutique steel frames popularity was on the rise within a certain segment of cycling culture—Yasin found that the interest in his bikes was coming from all around the world. It was at that point, seemingly by accident, that Soulrider Frameworks was born. Having a degree in metallurgical engineering could lead one down many potentially more lucrative career paths, but for Yasin frame building was the thing that got the creative juices flowing.

Today, Soulrider makes Steel and Titanium frames with virtually no limits on customization, from road, gravel, touring, track, city, and mountain bikes, to E-bikes, tandems, and even handmade steel aero TT bikes. These days, Yasin completes around 40 to 45 frames per year, limited mostly by the fact that he does everything by himself. While he has some opportunity to expand his output by adding a staff, Yasin values one-on-one interaction with his customers at every step of the process, so he prefers to keep things simple.



In addition to his anything-goes custom work, Yasin also offers two ready-made models that come with shorter lead times and lower prices. The “Şile” (appropriately named after his hometown) is a handmade steel gravel frameset using Columbus Zona tubes in pre-set sizes, starting at €900 (~ $980) with a carbon fiber fork. Meanwhile, a fully custom titanium frame starts at €1500 (~ $1,640) and goes up depending on the options.

While I didn’t get a chance to visit Yasin’s shop during my first trip to the country in 2020, I made sure to rectify that misstep during my return trip to Turkey. This time around, I was able to spend enough time in the city to document his process throughout various stages of building one customer’s steel gravel bike from beginning to end.

Entering the space for the first time, the tall ceilings and arched entryways are immediately striking. The sound of tools cutting into Columbus steel echos off of the walls in concert with the sound of various metal bands (or the broadcast of whichever World Tour is going at the moment) that resonate from the speakers near his computer. Every few hours the call to prayer from the mosque above the shop reverberates throughout the room. Meanwhile, one of the local street cats swings by for its second lunch after getting fed at the restaurant right across the street. Be sure to tune into Soulrider’s Instagram for your daily updates on the shop’s (unofficial) feline mascot.

Next to the various prototype frames that adorn the walls are posters for brevet rides that Yasin hosts under the name Uzak Ride Series. A brevet card deposit box is fixed just outside of the front door. These rides are not just a good excuse to get his buddies out for a big day, but they’re also meant to encourage more local riders to get out and enjoy the roads through the Anatolian forests that surround Istanbul. That’s where you’ll find Yasin whenever he’s not behind the welding torch: logging long days in the hills of the Turkish countryside and finding new ways to inspire locals to get on the bike.

Turkey’s cycling scene may still be in its infancy, partly due to a lack of infrastructure to make city riding more enjoyable, but those tides are turning. As I’ve experienced firsthand in my trips to the country, there are seemingly endless gravel and paved roads throughout the various mountain ranges of Turkey, which make it a prime place to ride, that’s only just beginning to creep toward its potential, at least in part thanks to folks like Yasin.

While I was visiting Yasin’s shop, I also got to check out and photograph a couple of stunning titanium gravel builds that he had recently completed.  The combination of cerakote and anodized titanium really make these bikes pop. You can find a full spread of photos in the gallery at the top of the page as well as the full specs below:

Soulrider Frameworks Red Cerakote Ti Gravel (’22 #188)

Titanium gravel frame with carbon fork and anodized/cerakote finish
SRAM Rival crankset
SRAM 40t chainring
SRAM GX Eagle AXS Derailleur (Mullet)
Scope 54.a custom wheels
Pirelli Cinturato Gravel Tires
Chris King Headset
Zipp Seatpost
Zipp custom painted stem
Fizik ARGO Saddle
Flamme Rouge carbon water bottle cages (handmade in Turkey)

Soulrider Frameworks Green Cerakote Ti Gravel (’22 #186)

Titanium gravel frame with carbon fork and anodized/cerakote finish
SRAM Rival crankset
SRAM 46t chainring
SRAM GX Eagle AXS Derailleur (Mullet)
DT Swiss GR531gb Wheels with Hope RS4 hubs
Terevail Rutland 650×47 tires
SRAM Brakes (Rotor painted to match)
Deda Zero Stem
Zipp Bars and seatpost