33 year-old Northeast Portlander Aaron Hayes has gone from zero-to-NAHBS in just six months.
Burnt out from his job as a consumer products designer for Portland-based Ziba Design, Hayes launched Courage Bicycle Mfg., at the suggestion of his girlfriend. “She was volunteering with a school group that visited Ira Ryan’s shop up in St. Johns and she came home and said, ‘Why don’t you build bikes?'”
A veteran racer and bike lover for many years, that was all the nudge Hayes needed.
With the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) just six months away, Hayes thought, “I wonder if I can create a company and build bikes in six months?…I took it on as a challenge.” A few weeks later he traveled to Ashland for a two-week framebuilding course at United Bicycle Institute.
Hayes poured himself into framebuilding. He scoured FrameForum.net (a popular online hangout for builders) for advice and voraciously read Tim Paterek’s framebuilding manual (I noticed it on his workbench, dog-eared and grease-smudged).
But Hayes admits he didn’t learn everything just by reading; “A lot of it is trial-and-error. In the end, you’ve just got to put in the time.”
Luckily, Hayes isn’t a complete newbie to fabrication work. His work at Ziba gave him experience in building an identity for his company, but he also worked in an R&D shop for a medical products company.
Since moving here from Arizona (he went to Arizona State) in 2000, Hayes has come to appreciate Portland’s bike vibrant community. He says he’s not only “happy to be a part of it” but he plans to help it grow. Hayes plans to donate 5% of the cost of each frame he sells to local bike advocacy groups. “To me,” he says “writing a check for a few thousand bucks a year is just putting my money where my mouth is.”
At NAHBS, Hayes plans to exhibit four bikes — two ‘cross, one road, and one track — along with a few custom parts and dropouts. his bikes will be evenly split between fillet-brazed and lugged (all four bikes were at the painter during my visit).