Wade Beauchamp: Frame Builder Extraordinaire | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

Wade Beauchamp: Frame Builder Extraordinaire

Beauchamp builds bicycle frames and is the man behind Vulture Cycles, Bend's preeminent bicycle frame builder.

In a small shop near the Deschutes River Woods, Wade Beauchamp bends metal to his will. He cuts it, shapes it, grinds it and fuses it together with lightning. He isn't an alchemist. Beauchamp builds bicycle frames and is the man behind Vulture Cycles, Bend's preeminent bicycle frame builder. He's humble, amiable, clever and just a little geeky. He can make almost anything he can dream of out of metal and magic. He's also, appropriately, completely mad about bicycles.

"There's a certain amount of comedy about bicycles," he says. "You kind of teeter around on them, balanced on two tiny points. They seem to almost defy the laws of physics yet we can do amazing things on them. It's like you're putting one over on the man every time you ride your bike. I love that about bicycles."

Beauchamp builds about 40 frames a year in his shop, a converted garage packed with machining and welding equipment, bicycle parts and spare tubing. He works with good old steel and sometimes titanium, crafting custom frames for customers all over the world. He makes mountain bikes, road bikes, city bikes, cyclocross bikes, cargo bikes and everything in between.

The frame builder grew up all over the western U.S., lived in Reno, Nev., the central California coast and Flagstaff, Ariz. He studied geology in college, but fell in love with bikes while working with one of mountain biking's earliest pioneers.

"I got a job at a bike shop in Flagstaff and I was done," he says. "Bikes took over my life from that point on."

The shop's owner built mountain bike frames. Beauchamp was intrigued. He grabbed a torch and started melting metal.

"I could build everything else on a bike, the frame was the next choice," he says. "It's also the heart of the bicycle, its core."

The frame builder crafted his first frame with flux and flame, flowing brass around hand-cut tube joints. It was, put lightly, a near disaster.

"As a first experience goes, it should have scared me away," he says. "It took an entire week, working more than 10 hours a day. The joints didn't line up properly, it took forever to weld it up."

But the frame came together and made a fantastic mountain bike. Beauchamp was bit by the bug and never looked back.

In the early days, Beauchamp built about five frames a year, running his own bike shop with a buddy. He moved to Bend and landed a job with Fuel Safe, a racing fuel cell  (tank) manufacturer. There he mastered electricity, learning how to weld from the best. He worked another job at the Bend Airport. In 2008, he decided to turn frame building into a full-time business.

Vulture Cycles became his life.

After four years building custom frames, Beauchamp is ready to expand. He's designing a built-to-order frame that will be available online in a variety of sizes and colors.

"You'll pick your size and color, I'll pull a set of pre-cut tubes out and weld them up," he says. "It'll be much faster and it'll give more people a chance to own a Vulture bike."

Custom frames will still occupy most of his time, but he'll be able to add 10 or more frames a year to his total production for a total of 50

Beauchamp also hopes to give customers a chance to participate in the frame building process. The frame builder imagines customers  traveling to Bend to see firsthand how their bikes are put together. They'll get to do some cutting, a little bit of welding and some riding.

"They'll come in, work with me to build their frames. At the end of it we'll build up their bikes and take a ride. It's a new approach to the whole custom frame experience," he says.

Beauchamp is currently retrofitting his shop, adding walls, windows and new machining equipment.

"I love Bend," he says. "It's a great place to live, work and ride. I wouldn't have Vulture Cycles anywhere else."

Vulture Cycles


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