Brad Bingham welds titanium bicycle frames today because he went to school next door to the Newberg, Oregon, company that created the world’s first successful air-powered saliva ejector.
“My school shared a property line with A-dec, the largest dental equipment company in the world. The company had a cooperative work experience program, so junior, senior years in high school I got to work there half days. I kind of fell in love with making stuff, and one of the engineers got me into mountain biking.”
In short order, Bingham broke two bicycle frames, and the engineer asked him why he didn’t just make his own. So he did.
“I went to UBI [United Bicycle Institute], took a framebuilding class and learned from Gary Helfrich, the founder of Merlin. He was incredible, a great teacher. Moots got my name from that class, said come on out and weld for us. So I took a 69-cents-an-hour pay cut. Worked with Moots for 15 years and came to Eriksen two years ago.”
Kent Eriksen Cycles is a four-person operation based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, that turns out a wide variety of custom singles and tandems–and piles up the awards, including, most recently, Best TIG-Welded at the 2015 North American Handmade Bicycle Show.
- Bingham loves titanium. “It’s a real nice material. To weld it properly, it has to be almost sterile. The welding process doesn’t create any smoke. It’s a pleasant environment.”
- Not that he avoids other materials. He was more than happy to work with the steel and aluminum that went into his restoration of a 1973 Airstream trailer.
- And he likes variety. Asked about his own bicycle stash, he lists a road bike, full-suspension mountain bike, a fat bike, a hardtail 29er and a commuter. “My girlfriend also has one of each.”