Although Chris Herting comes from a strong mountain bike background, his 3D road bikes are among the classiest we’ve seen. For six years Chris was the lead frame designer and director of R&D at Yeti Cycles, where he was responsible for designing the national and world championship winning bikes ridden by Juli Furtado and John Tomac. In 1992 Chris started his own bike company in a small shop in Durango, Colorado. What do we think is the coolest thing about Chris? How about the fact that he’s ridden 25 consecutive Solvang Centuries.
Road Bike Action: How did you get started?
Chris Herting: I built my first bike when I was 12 years old. It was a BMX bike and I cut apart an old 10-speed and used the lighter tubing and copied the geometry from my Gary Littlejohn frame. I built a fixture, coped the tubes with a file and had my dad weld it together. It was sweet until it broke! That was my first important lesson as an aspiring frame builder–lighter is not always better! Our garage had all the tools I needed to do stuff like this: welders, drill press, files, torch. I quickly grew to over 6' tall so my passion for bicycle riding was getting a bit cramped so I started building my own frames.
RBA: What’s the appeal to it for you?
CH: My appeal to building custom bikes is being able to make someone’s riding experience better by taking the time to find out what they need to make that happen. I love getting e-mails or calls from customers after the first ride.
RBA: Who is your favorite bike builder?
CH: The favorite bike builder that I know is John Slawta at Land Shark. I have known him for years and I have always admired the way he does things. Like myself, he is a one-person operation and he’s very efficient and clever at building certain tools and fixtures to make the process faster and easier.
RBA: What’s your current frame material of choice?
CH: My current material is Easton Scandium with bonded carbon stays. Being a small company it’s hard to do full carbon in custom geometry. Since I don’t offer Small, Medium or Large frames, I have to be able to build custom frames in the most cost effective manner. Scandium is stronger than regular aluminum so you can run thinner walls and bring down the wall thickness which can improve ride quality
RBA: What is the most important thing someone shopping for a new frame should consider?
CH:The most important thing is to ask is if it will enhance their riding experience? Will it fit me like it was made for me and not based on some average? Can I get the water bottle cages put somewhere that I can reach them with my short arms and sore back?
RBA: Is steel real?
CH: Steel is real, real heavy! Steel definitely has its place, the technology has improved as did the ride, but the higher end steel has become so expensive and harder to fabricate with that I have a hard time dealing with this and still ending up with a heavier frame that can rust through. I offer steel bikes but only in the medium range Columbus LIFE tubeset. Not super thin wall, but it has so much more durability than the thinner wall steel. It’s also easier to work with and doesn’t fail catastrophically.
RBA: Is there a particular ride quality you try to achieve with your frames?
CH: I try to build frames that are comfortable and go straight with no hands! I try to make the frames with torsional stiffness for good power transfer but also good vertical compliance to help make a long ride more enjoyable. A lot of production frames today have tall narrow aero shape tubes which is 180 degrees from what a good riding bike needs. The tall narrow tubes have less torsion resistance and a harsher vertical ride. But they do look cool!