We’ve had a few US-based guys talk to us about the custom frames they put out, and so far we’ve loved what we’v seen. Hopefully it’s inspired some of you to go and purchase some of these frames yourselves and support the rider-owned and operated scene that these guys have created for the custom frame market. For this week’s interview, we go across the Atlantic to Patrick Banks, one of the UK’s finest custom frame builder. We hope this helps to cater to our audience from around the world, while showcasing another frame building legend. Click through to peep the full interview and some photos of the frames.
1. What made you start doing custom frames?
I started building custom frames because back in the late 90s to early 200 0s the frames were heavy, overbuilt and actually breaking a lot due to poor design – I always thought I could build something better for myself and my friends. So I went to America to learn how to build bmx frames properly. Since then people have heard about my frames through word of mouth and want them because they are looking for something a bit different.
2. In a market where so many brands offer so many frames, with so many differences in geometry, there’s more than enough frames for someone to choose from. What makes a custom frame different than the ones currently being offered on the market?
The frames I build tend to have a lot of detail from laser cut parts, tubing and machining. This means that the rider can totally tailor their frame to the way they want it and not have to settle for something that’s been mass-produced, it’s personal to their needs. Because each frame is a one-off, it means that I can spend more time making sure the quality of the fabrication and welding are as good as possible. I also spend time talking to the clients to ensure that what they are asking for is exactly what they want, ensuring they are going to be 100% pleased with the outcome.
3. Do you offer only custom frames, or do you have stock frames as well? If so, which are your favorites and why?
I only do custom frames now, in the early 2000s I did offer a “stock” frame in 3 different sizes because I was finding that a lot of people wanted a frame but didn’t really know what geometry they wanted and were looking for a more affordable frame option from a custom. There were only 50 of the stock frames built but during production bmx changed from us bb’s and regular 1.1/8″ head tubes to mid bb’s and integrated head tubes, so by the time the frames were out there they were a bit outdated. So since then, due to the fact that bmx trends change regularly, I just do custom. This way I can keep everything up to date and I love the creative side of building a one-off.
4. What was the wildest custom frame you’ve had to do to date?
Well the wildest frame I have built was one with a 12″ back end and a 22.5” top tube.
I do build other frames like jump bikes, road bikes and mountain bikes and some of those have been pretty wild. I’ve also got a couple of bmx frames lined up that are crazy, one will be a bi-lam carbon stainless steel frame and one will be a twin top tube loop tail with plenty of old school touches.
5. Are there any pros riding your frames at the moment?
I don’t really sponsor people, due to being a one-man band and not producing hundreds of frames a year it’s just not possible, but I do help out a lot of the local riders with parts and frames. But there are a few well known people riding my frames.
6. What makes your frames different from all the other brands doing custom work?
I would say the difference between my customs and others is that thanks to myexperience in building race cars and making parts for million pound yachts, I have a good eye for detail. I also know how to build them strong and light and with my background of 14 years bmx frame building, 23 years welding and 22 years riding I can just tell whether something is going to work or not.
7. How much do your frames cost, and where can someone get a hold of you to get work done?
My bmx frames cost £400 upwards, obviously depending on spec of tubing, brakes, machining, laser cut parts and paint. You can reach me by email at email@example.com, on Facebook, or at my Iconosquare site or my personal site. You can also see a video that was up on the Redbull site made by submotion productions about what I do here.
Thanks again to Patrick for the interview, and stay tuned as next week we start a new series where we reach out to smaller, local brands to find out more about what it’s like to start and run a brand at home.