NAHBS 2013 Award Winner: Retrotec

This year’s best mountain bike

At last year’s North American Handmade Bicycle Show, Inglis shared the award for Best Mountain Bike with two other builders. This year Inglis had the stage to himself with his cruiser-inspired 29er.


Curtis Inglis heads up not one, but two custom frame building companies: Retrotec and Inglis.

Retrotec was created by Bob Seals. Seals wanted a raceable mountain bike that resembled the classic Schwinn cruisers of his youth. After being turned down by several builders Seals set about the task himself. Inglis apprenticed under Seals and took over the brand several years later. Retrotec makes mountain, road and cyclocross bikes that are typified by one, two, and sometimes, three swoopy top tubes that continue in an graceful arc into the seat stays. Bicycles made under the Inglis brand have more straightforward, double triangle designs.

Built around big tires

The Retrotec that won Best Mountain Bike at this year’s show came about after one of Inglis’ customers took a spin on a Surly Krampus. “He really liked it and wanted me to build something around that wheelsize,” Inglis said.

Surly’s 29×3
Josh Patterson/Future Publishing
Surly’s Knard tires and 50mm-wide Rabbit Hole rims have become a hit with custom framebuilders

While not quite a fat bike (Surly calls their creation ‘29+’), fitting the 3-inch-wide 29er tires into the rear of the bike required some slight modifications to Inglis’ standard build process. Inglis opted to use a two-piece chainstay bridge supplied by Paragon Machine Works, which provided just enough tire clearance. Inglis usually joins the seat stays in the same plane as the top tubes for a clean, uninterrupted appearance. That was not possible with this build, so Inglis extended the top tubes beyond the seat tube and into a bridge where they joined the curved seat stays.

Inglis had to make room for the larger tires by building a bridge:
Josh Patterson/Future Publishing
Inglis with his winning bike:
Josh Patterson/Future Publishing
Inglis with his winning fat tire 29er cruiser bike