Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 21st, 2006 at 9:03 am
Portland’s burgeoning crop of custom framebuilders just got a litte sweeter. Natalie Ramsland and her partner (in life and business) Austin have launched Sweetpea Bicycles.
Natalie recently quit her job as a bike messenger and is now working full-tilt to design and build bikes especially for women. She has set up shop in a studio in the RJ Templeton Building located adjacent to the Burnside Bridge.
Natalie’s first run of bikes is aptly named “First Edition”. The green protoype pictured here is a 26-inch cyclocross bike that Natalie is really excited about:
“It’s basically road/cyclocross geometry with smaller wheels. I was so inspired by all the women at the cyclocrosss races…but I realized they were all riding unwieldly men’s bikes. I found that by designing a smaller wheelbase and having smaller wheels I could build a bike that is much easier to control and doesn’t have toe overlap.”
She says the added control offered by this smaller-sized bike is especially helpful for single-speed and fixed-gear aficionados.
Another thing that sets Sweetpea apart is Natalie’s diverse athletic background. In addition to being a former professional bike messenger, she is also a competitive distance runner and triathlete. Adding to those sensibilities is a somewhat of a lucky coincidence.
Shortly after moving into their new shop in the Templeton Building, Natalie and Austin ran into Michael Sylvester. Sylvester just happens to be the pre-eminent bicycle fit specialist in the country. He created the widely regarded Serotta Fit System and was the long-time head of bike fitting for the Bike Gallery.
When Natalie ran into him they started chatting and not knowing who he was, Natalie said, “I’m looking for someone that knows about fitting. Do you know anyone?”.
Suffice it to say the two have struck a great partnership, and Sylvester – whose own studio is just two floors away – has become not just a friend but a valuable mentor.
Sweetpea will be one of nine local bike builders featured in the upcoming Portland Handmade Bicycle Show at City Hall on July 6th (details coming soon!).
Also check out the Sweetpea Blog.