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June 17, 2024 4 min read

Meet Will Scharen, the artisan behind Scharen Cycles, where the precision of a musician's touch converges with the artistry of bike frame craftsmanship. With a background steeped in music and a decade-long journey in frame building, Will's story is as intricate as the steel frames he meticulously shapes. Inspired by the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) and driven by a passion for both art forms, Will has carved out a niche in the cycling world with his signature curved and ovalized top tubes, blending nostalgia with modern functionality. Join us as we explore Will's unique approach to frame building, his most cherished creations, and his vision for the future of Scharen Cycles.


How long have you been building frames and what inspired you to start?

I've been building bike frames for 10 years now. My journey began when I attended the North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) in Denver, where I was living at the time. Seeing so many incredible hand-built bikes firsthand lit a fire of inspiration within me. Before that show, I had never really considered the possibility of fabricating bikes myself. But witnessing the craftsmanship and creativity on display made me realize that this was something I wanted to pursue.

 


Can you briefly describe your frame building process?

My frame-building process begins with dialing in the geometry based on the intended purpose and the rider's contact points. Once I've acquired the tubes and other parts, I start by inspecting and cleaning them. I mark each tube where I want the ends cut to maximize the usable butted sections. For my top tubes, I weld two together and roll them in my tubing roller to achieve my preferred curve, then separate them for use in frame builds.


Before assembly, I drill holes and braze in the bottle bosses, as this is much harder to do after the frame is built. I typically start by building the front triangle, then add the chainstays, and finally the seat stays. Throughout the process, I check alignment and spacing at every step. I often bend or shape the seat stays and chainstays for both clearance and aesthetic reasons.


What materials do you primarily use for your frames?

I primarily use chromoly steel for the frame tubes, bronze for fillets, and silver for bottle bosses and other small braze-ons.

 


Are there any unique or signature techniques you incorporate into your frames?*

Yes, I curve and ovalize the top tube on most of my frames. This design element evokes a bit of nostalgia for old cruiser frames while allowing for a fully modern execution.


Are there any notable or memorable builds you’ve worked on that stand out?

Building a bike for my mom was pretty special. She's in her 80s and wanted a step-through frame with the opening as low as possible. I achieved this with an elegant design that pleased us both.

 


What are some of the challenges you face as a frame builder?

Running a business in general is my biggest challenge, with promotion and marketing being the hardest part for me. In a world full of big bike companies and small builders like me, most with a great online presence, it's hard to stand out and convince someone to buy my product.


What are the most rewarding aspects of your work?

I enjoy the actual fabrication part the most. When I'm behind the torch and melting metal, I get into a flow state where nothing else exists. I'm totally immersed in the work; time stops and the world around me shrinks to just the task at hand. It's magical.

 


Is there a specific frame design or model you’re especially proud of?

I have a gravel bike called the Cinder, which is so much more than anything the big brands are offering. It was designed as a drop-bar bike to cover everything from smooth pavement to rough double track and even single track. Most gravel bikes are barely different from road bikes and don't handle well off-road. The Cinder borrows from my hardtail designs and my experience as a mountain biker. It's a bike I love to ride because it's so stable at speed and handles well on pretty much all terrain.

 


What are your goals or aspirations for the future of your brand?

I want to keep refining my designs and continue to champion the idea of a modern steel bike. My goal is to build the brand to the point where I'm comfortably busy but not a slave to the company.


Are there any new technologies or trends in frame building that excite you?

I've enjoyed watching additive manufacturing (3D printing) become more widely used in frame building. I've invested time and money in developing a fork crown printed from stainless steel for a modern steel fork. My goal is to offer the Cinder as a complete frame set with a purpose-built steel fork, even though it's compatible with off-the-shelf carbon forks.


Is there anything else you’d like to share about your brand or your journey as a frame builder?

Each of my frames has a brass head badge, a nod to my other career as a trombonist (the trombone being a brass instrument). My extensive training as a musician, with thousands of hours of practice, set me up perfectly for frame building. Although the result is tactile instead of aural, it requires the same careful practice and attention to detail that music does. And the product is similarly satisfying.

 


Discovering the artistry and dedication behind Scharen Cycles has been a journey into the heart of craftsmanship and creativity. For those inspired by Will's passion for blending tradition with innovation in bike frame design, follow his ongoing journey:

@scharencycles
www.scharencycles.com



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