In late 2011, after spending many years as held welder at FBM Bike Company in Johnson City, N.Y., Dave Harrison made the move to Providence, R.I. and started his own frame manufacturing facility called Pedal Driven Cycles. Harrison's first frame, dubbed the "Kool Thing," was hand built by Harrison using American made chromoly and tooling he purchased using funds raised by Kickstarter, and quickly sold out. Now, two years later, Harrison's efforts continue with a unique frame collaboration between Pedal Driven and Rhode Island BMX shop Circuit BMX. Recently, XGames.com sat down with Harrison and Circuit owner Vic Bettencourt to discuss all thing BMX frame building related in the Providence, R.I. area. Harrison was up first.
XGames.com: Pedal Driven has come a long ways from its Kickstarter infancy. What were some of the most challenging obstacles along the way?
Harrison: The first major challenges were finding a shop, getting machines, and building the tooling from scratch. The biggest ongoing obstacle for me has been actually running the business. I have been really busy sourcing all the parts, teaching myself how to manage the books, and updating the website and other social media sites. My day is really full, balancing fulltime time work, building bicycles, and working with other people on art logos and CAD drawings of my products. Recently Pedal Driven Cycles began distribution through Animal Bikes in the US and 1664 BMX in Canada. I am very excited to be working with those guys. With them spreading the word about Pedal Driven to shops, it frees up time for me to make more bicycles.
Tell us about your first production frame, the Kool Thing. You put a lot of thought into the tubing choices and geometry, right?
With the Kool Thing, I went back to a time that was awesome in my life and for BMX. BMX was changing and the riders began standing up to take over our industry. My goal with Kool Thing was to combine my years of experience building great bicycles to build an all-around bicycle for anyone reflecting that time. I wanted the bicycle to be simple looking but have some very top notch touches to it. In building the Kool Thing, I used a nice seamless double butted top and down tube, and a single butted seat tube. I used full ¾” tubing on the rear to keep it strong. A key feature on the frame is the Shark Fin technology bottom bracket, which keeps the tube round as it is being welded. I also included 3D laser cut tube gussets, the top one having the TCB logo cut into it. As the final touch, I added two stainless steel badges and polished them out after painting to make them pop. The bicycle and geometry turned out just how I wanted it and I am so excited about the response I have gotten from people.
Is there anything else you are cooking up in the shop?
I am working on a new frame called the S.L.A.B. (Slow Low And Banging). This will be a street frame with a steep head tube angle, short rear end, low bottom bracket and an offset chain stay upward to prevent hanging up on certain grinds. It will feature the same beautiful stainless badges as Kool Thing and should be hitting the streets soon. I have Shaun Arata rocking one right now down in Austin, Texas. Over the winter, I plan on dialing in some tooling and getting ready to make some big bicycles. I love riding all bicycles so why not build them all? I’m thinking a commuter so I can cruise around Providence.
You still work a forty hour week welding elsewhere. For a lot of people that would be plenty of welding. Why put yourself through all the work?
With Pedal Driven just getting off the ground I needed something to supplement my income. Working full time and then heading straight to Pedal Driven every day is tough. However, welding stainless all day helps keep my skills up. The plan is to build Pedal Driven up so sometime in the near future I can spend my days making the bicycles I love full time again.
In addition to offering custom frames for individual customers, you have also done a small run of frames for a bike shop. Do you think this is something bmx can expect to see more of down the road?
I have the privilege of living next to one of the best core BMX shops in the country, Circuit BMX, and have been friends with Vic [Bettencourt] for a long time. The project allowed him to offer something very unique to his customers and helped me get the word out about Pedal Driven. I would love to be able to do some more projects like this in the future. Bicycle shops are so awesome and help out their scene.
XGames.com: What made you want to do a Circuit BMX frame?
Bettencourt: The Circuit Anchor Frame came about because I had been riding an FBM Steadfast for three years (and FBM Frames since '98) and was looking to switch it up. Dave Harrison had recently moved to Providence and was getting Pedal Driven set up. I had always been a fan of his work. Knowing what he is capable of and having him so close by made me want to just ask him to do a custom frame for me. It was supposed to be just a custom frame for myself and then others starting asking about the frame I was making. My friends were pretty stoked on having Circuit frames so we put together a small order. I have a feeling of pride every time I ride my bike. Knowing that Dave hand built them is very satisfying.
Originally there were four Circuit frames and then you ordered an additional six. What happened?
The first four frames were all custom geometry and preordered. I had ten badges made and just figured we would make a few more eventually. Shortly after we started riding ours, more friends started asking about them. So the other six frames with stock geometry were made and are all being ridden now. I'm hoping to do another ten for spring with the stock geometry we used on the last six.
What is the geometry and options for the Anchor?
Welded brake mounts and 3/8" slotted dropouts are optional for those that are pre-sold. The stock specs are 74.5 degree head tube, 11.5 inch bottom bracket height, 71 degree seat tube angle, 8 3/4" stand over height and 13 5/8" chain stay length.
Could you describe the process of doing a run of frames from your end?
Getting the project rolling was easy. We had a group meeting at Circuit with Dave and he listened to our input one by one. We came up with a design from there. My end was pretty simple. Dave did all the work. I would just let him know what we all wanted and we communicated weekly on developments and production time. The stock run of six was also easy. I gave him the top tube sizes and specs and he ran with it. When it comes down to it, it was more about knowing who builds the bike you ride and supporting a friend getting started on a new project.