Startup framebuilder will display ‘Courage’ at NAHBS

Posted by on January 28th, 2008 at 3:42 pm

Courage Bicycle Mfg - Aaron Hayes-9.jpg

Aaron Hayes in his shop.
(Photos © Jonathan Maus)

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.

Courage Bicycle Mfg - Aaron Hayes-4.jpg

Hayes said the toughest part of the job so far has been finding reliable vendors.
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Courage droupouts.

Hayes poured himself into framebuilding. He scoured (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.”

Courage Bicycle Mfg - Aaron Hayes-1.jpg

Hayes said he spends about two
hours smoothing each weld on
his custom-made stems.

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).

For more photos of Hayes and his shop, check out the photo gallery. Also visit the Courage Cycles website at

*This story is part of my special coverage of the 2008 NAHBS and is brought to you by Reynolds Cycle Technology. Stay tuned for more show news, builder profiles and live coverage from the event.

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zacjayJean ReinhardtnuovorecordJoe Recent comment authors
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I cannot WAIT to see these live and in person. The identity and dropouts…wow, sweet stuff.


steel is real. 🙂 * nice work *


And Portland\’s bicycle economy just continues to grow! If the world needs anything, it\’s more lugged steel bikes. (I mean that in all sincerity…)

Very cool.

Jean Reinhardt
Jean Reinhardt

Good–more alternatives to race-fixated Chinese plastic crap masquerading as bicycle frames.


good for you. . . i\’m excited to check these out! anyone that makes a leap like this can be expected to do some pretty awesome things – passion always comes through in the work.


I love lugged steel. and those fork ends are to die for!