These days, the "Titanium" part of Dean Titanium Bicycles' formal company name is largely superfluous. Owner and welder John Siegrist has worked with the material for nearly a quarter-century now and his modest workshop has occupied the same space just east of Boulder, Colorado for more than two decades. We paid Siegrist and his crew a visit just before this year's North American Handmade Bicycle Show.
Like many industry veterans, Siegrist got his start in the industry as a racer. He eventually decided he wanted to build frames for a living and sold his race bike – a titanium Litespeed, ironically – to buy a TIG welder and mill. Business has ebbed and flowed since then but Siegrist has never looked back.
Dean currently ships about 125 frames per year and Siegrist welds every one of them, including road, hardtail and full-suspension mountain, randonneur, touring, time trial, track, coupler, and just about anything else one could imagine. Most are 100 percent titanium but Dean is also among few builders to dabble in Vyatek's innovative Exogrid and Isogrid co-molded titanium-and-carbon fiber tubing, most of which is sent overseas.
"Every other bike that goes to another country is an Exogrid frame," Dean operations manager Rich Gardunia told BikeRadar. "In the United States, it's about one out of five."
This ultralight (1kg/2.2lb) titanium frame will be shown at NAHBS
Dean's workshop is packed wall-to-wall with heavy machinery, including two band saws, two lathes, two mills, a couple of tubing benders, and several jigs in addition to the requisite welding station, alignment table, and final build area. Dean didn't bother to dress things up for our photo shoot, either, leaving everything in its natural, well-used state – just as it should be.
We stopped by the Dean workshop just two days before the start of NAHBS and there was still much to be done. According to Gardunia, Dean plans to bring about nine or 10 bikes to the show and, as of late Wednesday morning, only half of them were finished – and some were still being welded.
Assuming everything gets completed – and somehow, builders always manage to do so for NAHBS – Dean should have some beautiful machines on display. One will be Gardunia's personal townie with twin down tubes and top tubes – all with graceful arcs from end to end – and another will be an ultralight titanium road bike with a frame that supposedly weighs just 1kg (2.2lb).
Check out Dean's website for more details or check back on BikeRadar over the next few days for coverage of the company's booth at NAHBS. Or better yet, show up in person and check everything out firsthand. This year's NAHBS will run February 22-24 at the Denver Convention Center in Denver, Colorado.
In the meantime, look through the big photo gallery of Dean's facility at the above right.
Another NAHBS show bike in the works