Alpenrose Velodrome in Portland.]
Mark Duff is well-known in the Oregon road and track racing scene. Since moving here from Colorado six years ago, he’s been a consistent top performer in both disciplines and has been involved with racing for over two decades.
Now, the 39 year old former owner of a construction company is switching gears and launching Veloforma, a new bike company headquarted in Banks, a small rural town in Washington County 26 miles West of Portland.
The company specializes in high-end carbon-fiber bikes and components including; handlebars, stems, and seat posts. The bicycles are made with carbon from Toray Industries in Japan. The material is then shipped to Taiwan where the frames are put together. Then, final assembly and finishing touches are done at Veloforma’s Banks headquarters.
I asked Mark a few questions about his new endeavor…
What is the background of Veloforma?
“I raced full-time in Europe back in the late 80s to early 90s and I made many contacts that have led me to this point. One of the teams I raced for was Veloforma/Fami, at the time they were a bike rack and tool manufacturer. When they went out of business in 1989, I bought the name and incorporated and trademarked the company. I’ve been waiting for the right time to launch it ever since then.”
Why’d you decide to start a bike company?
“Without trying to sound too bold, I think I can do it better. I can bring a product to the market that is unique.”
Can you tell us more about your use of carbon fiber?
“Our carbon process is unique and draws on technology from F1 racing cars. We are not reinventing the wheel but we are taking technology that is new to cycling but common practice in F1 auto racing and using it in building our bikes. We have already produced a 14.75 pound complete bike (the F1R, pictured above) with out skimping or taking any minimalist approaches.
We are one of the few manufactures that make a carbon cross bike (see photo below) and we have a full monocoque version in the works.”
Your wife Miranda Duff also races right? Is she involved with the business?
Photo: Team CPT-Colnago
“Miranda will be involved in many aspects as a racer and business professional. She will be heading up the grass roots racing program for women and junior women racing. And representing Veloforma as a rider at all the world cup and NTC and NRC races this year as a professional rider for Vitesse – a women’s pro team out of Colorado.
Veloforma as a whole is very committed to women in sport and cycling first and foremost. I think that women get the short end of the stick in cycling and many professional sports, I will do what I can to change that.”
What’s the brief history of Veloforma?
“Our first big public outing was at the Interbike trade show in Las Vegas last fall. We picked up 10 shops as authorized retailers. None in Oregon, yet, but Dean at Bike Central (in downtown Portland) has shown a lot of interest in our track bike.
We would like to work with the boutique-type pro shops in the local area like En Selle, Veloce, or Cyclepath but have yet come to any terms or agreements.”
Are you sponsoring any teams?
“We are sponsoring the Guinness Elite Masters Cycling team and are talking to several other clubs. We are working out a deal with a Womens Pro team that will happen even though it’s late in the season. Like I said, we are dedicated to women’s pro cycling and women’s cycling in general.
We’ll also be a major sponsor of the Eric Kautzky Memorial Track Race this year and many more to come.”
How’d you end up out in Banks?
“A few years ago I bought some land in Banks, It’s a great peace of land for a testing facilties and there are a lot of beautiful roads in the area to ride on, just seemed like the place to be so I am building our office and warehouse out there (which will be 100% sustainable) and our house will be close by too.”
What are your goals/plans for the company this year?
“Sell a lot of bikes, educate the public and shops about our bikes and the process we have in building them We will be doing a small media tour this spring in California.
We will be at a lot of races and events in Oregon, Washington, California, Canada along with one NRC event every month. We will have a mobile show room that we will be pulling with one of the company vehicles (which is bio-diesel) we also have a club that will be registered with USA Cycling and OBRA for those who want to race in the Veloforma colors and on a Veloforma bike.
I believe in our bikes and product line and want to give everyone a chance to ride our bikes. And of course I want to have a lot of fun and learn something new each day, if we don’t learn we can’t get better, right?”
Sounds to me like Mark has the right attitude and expertise to make his company a success.
Good luck Mark, and I’ll keep my eye out for Veloforma bikes this season.