Northern Michigan Biking: Spring, the start of everything new and, equally awesome, the start of cycling season. We check in with Brandon Inglehart, who has a powerful story about both new beginnings and bikes. After getting hit by a pickup truck on his bike, he had to start his life over and decided building custom bike frames might be the path to his future. He was right.
So, this story starts with an accident.
Yes. Back in April 2007. I was a middle school science teacher, and I was out on a training ride with a friend, the principal of the school at the time, and we both got hit by a pickup truck. I had all kinds of injuries, including brain injuries. I had to relearn everything, walking, reading. I got back in the classroom in less than a year, but it was clear it wasn’t going to work.
How did you end up with bike frames?
It was really a series of sifting through a lot of things, seeing what was available. I really didn’t want the accident to be a big negative weight the rest of my life. I wanted to take the opportunity to make something good out of it. That’s how the whole name came together, Serendipity Cycles.
Do you have a certain approach or technique that you hope to become known for?
The philosophy for me in building frames is something I took from teaching. I didn’t want to focus on the number of frames I built each year, I wanted to focus on the quality of each frame, so it might take me two months to build a frame.
You started Serendipity in 2010? How’s it going?
It’s slowly growing, and I’m getting good feedback. People are starting to recognize my bikes.
What materials do you use?
I only use chrome-moly steel, and I hand pick tubes based on what the customer wants—a stiff frame, a soft and lively frame—those choices really play into which tubing is used. I do mostly mountain bikes, and steel is really easy to repair.
Give us a flyover of the process, what it means to get a custom bike frame.
So far it’s all been face-to-face meetings. I get a customer’s dimensions, and when the frame is put together, but not painted, the customer can ride it, and we can still make changes. Once it’s approved, then we talk about paint. I do everything by hand, a lot of sandpaper and files.
What’s a hallmark of your frames?
One is how meticulously clean they are. I braze the tubes together, so there is no bead of material at the joints, no weld line. Just a smooth transition.
How’s about some advice for people who already have a bike and want to make the ride more comfortable?
I highly recommend getting fitted to your bike. You get the most out of your bike and your money. Good fit makes a big difference.