Handemade Steel Mountain Bikes

Articles by The Torch

I am first and foremost a Jackass. Everything else seems to fall in line somewhere after that.

Started welding when I was 12yrs old and haven’t stopped. Metal music, metal fabrication and metal cans to hold my beer.

Every time I build a Rev. I find myself wondering why I haven’t explained them better. Reverends are built for solid climbs and fast descents.

Reverend 29er

Eagles Rest, Oakridge OR

I start with customer input on style and weight preferences. I can add bent top tubes for standover height clearance, and reinforcement details on the down tube and seat tube.

Down tube detail on the reinforced style.

Good view of a bent TT on a Paycheck

Any bent main tubes on a bike add weight so it is a consideration to think about. I personally think the weight is worth the style and durability you gain. Of course I am not racing competitively and counting every gram either, which is why I offer a racier version that uses more OX Platinum and less reinforcement. Still strong but less resistant to denting and other damage inflicted during a hard crash. On the race style I bend a short heavier walled tube for fork crown clearance up by the head tube and then sleeve it with a short stainless steel piece and splice an OX Platinum tube that continues on to the bottom bracket shell.

SS Sleeve

above the stainless sleeve is a heavier walled tube and below is OX Platinum.

Active riders, which is to say people who like to flick their bikes around switch backs or tight sections of trail, will enjoy the shorter wheel base the Reverend provides. A lot of effort goes into shortening their wheel base for climbing and cornering. Shorter stays work better for climbing. Period. Traction is based on weight placed on the rear wheel. When I first started building 29ers I found myself having to run longer chainstay lengths than I wanted but they were easy to produce so I stuck to it for a while. Over time I have learned that easy doesn’t always work best and certain “customizations” are indeed necessary for optimal function.

Standard chainstay lengths of 450-445mm center to center are easy to produce and for the most part work well until you need to climb out of the saddle. When you stand and shift your weight forward you remove weight from your rear wheel and run the risk of spinning out. Frustrating to anyone. With a Reverend you end up with a chainstay length of 432mm. Traction for days.

I achieve the shorter stays by bending the seat tube and running a plate mount front derailleur. The direct mount FDs are perfect because their “shifty bits” largely fall to the side of the seat tube vs the rear as many others do, robbing you of mud clearance and generally being annoying. Since the reverend is top pull it is also possible to hack off the bottom pull arm from the FD to add even more clearance.

It is possible to go too short on a bikes wheel base as demonstrated here in a video I took at Mountain Bike Oregon this year.

Hopefully this explanation helps to give you some perspective on our 29ers!

Let me start by saying, I still have yet to finish all my show preparations! The countdown is killing me! Lots to think about and lots to do. Logistics are key. I need to thank my buddy Eli for letting us ship stuff to his house in Austin. Dude you kick ass. Also Ivan at FSA for just being Ivan. Bad Ass Dude. The Hive for their ChUb.

The Hive

Great products. You will see a lot of their stuff in our booth because they are Rad fellas. Gotta deal with dudes who are lookin out for ya. Joe at Seattle Bike Supply, for instance, is always trying to get the small builder prices that help our bottom line. Important when you need to eat and pay for the electric.

Now for product, Bronto will be bring a race 29er with chainstays that are in line with their 26er cousins. Just a scooch under 17″. Really tight. Now you can climb like you want to on your geared 29er. NO Compromising. Douggie T. will be racing this bad boy as part of our Bronto Pleasure Squad. Real dudes ride Bronto and the ladies know it.

17" 29er Stays. Geared. Period.

We are also shaking up the tree with an all mountain hardtail in the mix. The Paycheck.


Graffix brought to you by Kung Fu himself. Dude grinds coffee by hand… well nearly by hand…. well OK, after he grinds it by machine but still hardcore. Really Hooking Bronto up too. You rock Troy.

We Believe in Rigid (Despite the fact that I am a new convert). Bronto is bringing two rigid MTBs down. With our new UDO forks in force. Style is key if you are rollin rigid. Bring it.


Lots to do as I said but I just wanted to touch base.

The Torch

There I was minding my own business listening to a great album

when in walked a fast talking fast walking Belgian looking for bike frames.

Belgians are attracted by Gold so try to keep your Performance underware on the DL

I wasn’t sure what to do but hand them to him and send him on his way… I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to get photos of him in the shop. Damn. HOWEVER, I did collect some evidence of his visit:

For those of you not in the Know Belgians, much like their Garden Gnome cousins, leave waffle shaped droppings slathered in yummy fruit sauce! A little messy but totally worth it! However, and a strong ALAS…., not the beer one might assume would come from the Belgian species….(proof of his import status?????)

Little leggy to be Belgian....

Imagine if St. Bernardus from Abt 12 was featured as above….

Sexy Abbott

I guess when your beer is as good as Belgian beer there is no need for the whole “Sex” thing.

Word UP,
The Torch

Started the day with a goal of getting two tube sets ready to weld and I got pretty darn close. Good to have time to focus with no distractions… No distractions save the massive wall of vinyl that is…. Vinyl can be a serious time suck to the undisciplined mind looking for a reason to explore. No explanation necessary for the fact I am working late tonight. That being said I did get within sight of my stated goal for the day.

Ahhhh to the choice play-list! I find it really easy to work to Jazz as long as it is fast and somewhat avant garde but not too much. My first album was:

Charles Mingus. Love Mingus. Great artist. Next:

Track 1 on this album is out of the park cool.

Roberta Flack. Wow. But a little too powerful so I had to roll in some laughs with the next artist:

George Carlin = funniest man (no longer) alive.

Too bad we lost his voice.

Dylan’s too… but Holy Crap Young!

Jimmy Page is always current.

Should have seen the sketches for our unreleased Ghetto bike called the D.L.R..

Word To Your Mother.

Too bad we lost Joe as well.

Poison IVY keeps me up at night.

See what I mean…

So does Brody…. OK, Change of pace,

Great Drinking Music

Irish Music at its best. Produced by Elvis Costello. Buy it. Now for the Willy namesake,

The album, “Pancho and Lefty” is a close second behind this album, “Willie Nelson Live”. Abrupt left here to Good Dub Mix:

And finally a Really, Really Fantastic Dub Mix.

Don Letts is off the hook cool.

Hey Folks,

Been a while since my last post. A good long while I guess…. Need to be better for sure.

I decided to show some “behind the scenes” photos of powdercoating. As you may or may not know, Bronto coats its own product. When I say Bronto I really mean that I do. Another feather in my hat I suppose, but doing this step ourselves keeps our lead times shorter than having to send the frames out of house to get it done.

I start the process by sandblasting the frames to etch the surface and prep it for better powder adhesion. Here is the blast room.

Prepping MTB Frames

Not my favorit room....

Not my favorite place to be for sure. Dirty, Gritty and I find sand in my belly button lint afterwords.

After I blast the frames I preheat them and apply an oxide inhibitor to keep them better protected from corrosion starting under the coating. At this point the frames are still raw.

Prepped and ready for powder.

No colors are left after the frames are blasted.

This is as naked as welds get. No color to pull the eyes away.

For perspective, frames start out looking something like this after welding.

TIG Welded Frame

I then apply the base coat of color and bake the frame at 400 deg F to gel the powder which is about the same consistency as flour. Here is a picture of some uncured powder on the floor.

We do custom colors for a slight upcharge.

After the powder is cooked for about 8-10 min I remove the frame and apply the high-temp decals.

A few mountain bike frames getting custom colors.

After the decals are on I spray a clearcoat to protect the decals and the color. The clearcoat also gives the color more depth. This layer of powder needs to bake for roughly 20 min after it is applied. Here are some shots of the frames after the clear is on.

All Bronto Bon. Custom Colors On Custom MTBs


Flashy Red.

Color: Performance Gold

Color: New York Yellow

That color with matte clear:

Matte really makes things look smooth.

Next post should be about a night ride.

The Torch

First off I got up at FIVE A.M., dressed my lazy ass, and hit my target heart rate for longer than I would have cared to pre-coffee. Then I welded a modest version of a bike frame whilst watching two kids, a dog/cat and five adolescent chickens. Good times.

Pretty OK

Later in the day I started to hear music emanating from the park below the hill I live on. Country music no less. Come to find out it is Bo Bice of American Idol fame.

Sweet. Seriously. Mona (my daughter) decided that we needed to attend the show…. as a family. I had to attend (not before I pre-lubricated though). BO. I barely watch T.V. out of principle yet here I am unable to avoid the fall-out of a T.V. “superstar”.

I love my little girl so I rolled. I didn’t take a real camera or have my total wits about me but something caught my eye straight away like a mural of an eagle and an AK-47 and the words “Freedom Isn’t Free” as the quotation. Get really fat here!I Loved Twinkies as a young shit in Idaho but soon found that as a wrestler, they weren’t good for dropping weight and I stopped eating them all together. Too bad because if I hadn’t stopped I might have found before now that as this “food Vendor” states, they actually come deep fried AND, AND vegetarian friendly no less! “Why did I give up on them?”, I asked myself. “WHY”?!!!!! It’s not like they don’t make vests for larger people.

Life/form® 20-lb. Body Fat Vest

A specially designed vest that allows you to temporarily experience 20 lbs. of excess body fat. Just slip into this garment for 10 minutes and begin to understand the physical changes that occur with weight gain. This teaching model includes the 20-lb. body fat vest with Velcro® straps, a publication entitled Education Strategies Using the Life/form® 20-lb. Body Fat Vest, and carrying case.


The Torch.

Bronto now has headbadges!!



Good thing too. Head tubes need headbadges like Suicide Girls need tattoos! No joke.
We are getting our “look” together slowly but surely, all the while trying to remain calm. However, we are inexplicably hungry to get things dialed. The fantastic color palette is soon to arrive but in the mean time feast your eyes on the custom anodized slider dropouts! Color is good no?  Gold = Tough  like Mr. T = Bad. Ass. Period.

Gold just like the Man likes it.

Get the Ladies With Gold!

Mr. T Loves Bronto!!

Mr. T Loves Bronto!!

The idea is to stand out so that hunters don’t shoot you and/or if by random happenstance one of the before mentioned ladies is out in the woods, to give you a fighting chance at a close encounter in the great outdoors. Stranger things have happened. Trust me, I’m the Torch.

Bronto is now officially underway. David stopped by the shop the other day to take part in the birth of the first Bronto 29er .  Time to pay some debts to the people who have been aiding our dreams of getting Bronto up and running. As you can tell I am better at welding than formatting WordPress. Bear with me while I muddle through my first post.

Rainier beer and Voodoo Doughnuts seemed to sprout from the walls upon Davids arrival. I mastered no fewer than 3 rather large donuts in less than an hour. Beers went down quite slowly at first but not nearly as slow as David. Someone sent him South in pretty bad shape. He was trying to sleep in a shop chair by 7 P.M. but I managed to keep him going with the sounds of Fabrication and the promise of progress. In a day, we took a pile of tubes and some numbers on paper and gave them a purpose: To become an instrument in the shredding of single-track. Buff trails beware.