Learn about a new high-end frame builder called Firefly Bicycles here. The upstart, established in early 2011, is founded by three former Independent Fabrications employees; Jamie Medieros, Tyler Evans and Kevin Wolfson. With a combined 30+ years designing and building handcrafted bike frames, this little start-up is one to watch. The DailyBicycle caught up with Kevin to find out what drives the small company to achieve perfection in their craft.
DailyBicycle: It’s pretty well known that you, Jamie and Tyler were integral to IF’s success as a custom frame designer and builder. Collectively, among the three of you, what are the top 3 lessons you learned at IF that you are able to apply at Firefly?
1. We learned that there is no substitute for quality and precision. That quality and precision has to exist from the start of the process through the end. If something is incorrect on the build sheet, it will be incorrect when we build. If a weld isn’t just right, a bike that should be a lifetime bike won’t be. Quality control throughout the process is a crucial way to ensure that everything is correct. Reading the manual is another. For example, if we’re building a bike for a specific tire width and crankset, we need to know all of the specs of those parts to build the frame correctly.
2. Honesty and timeliness is very important too. Buying a custom bike is an exciting process, and customers understandably want to know how long it will take to make their bikes. Part of our job is to provide an accurate an honest timeline for the customer. If we can’t meet a target date, or if something is delayed, we owe it to the customer to be honest and open with them. Similarly, we owe it to the customer to be honest about what we can and can’t do. It’s easy to get excited about special requests, but promising them is no good unless we can make them happen. One of the huge benefits of the smaller scale of Firefly is that we have more time for each build, which means we can make more of those special requests happen.
3. it’s very important to make bike’s personal. When you buy a custom bike, we believe you are buying much more than just the bike. You’re buying the experience of having something made special for you. We try to foster that as much as possible by telling people about the details of frame building, showing them pictures of their bike being made, inviting people to our shop when possible, and always responding to calls and emails in a timely and complete manner.
DailyBicycle: There are growing choices of custom frame designers and builders for riders who appreciate hand-made frames. What makes Firefly different from the other amazing small builders out there?
Kevin Wolfson: There are obviously lots of fantastic builders out there, and every builder offers their own unique experience and product to the customer. A few things set us apart. First, our experience and talent is tough to beat. Jamie and Tyler have been building custom frames for over 13 years each. In their time at Merlin and IF, they’ve build literally tens of thousands of custom frames, and the value of that experience is indispensable. Similarly, I designed over 1000 frames at IF in my 2.5 years there, and have encountered an enormous spectrum of fit requests, design questions, and frame designs. That experience, plus a lifetime of riding and racing, gives me the skill to translate a customer’s requests into a perfect custom frame design. As a team we have a lot of collective knowledge, and we work really well together to use all that knowledge. We also differentiate ourselves with our documentation of each build. As I mentioned above, this helps build the connection between the customer and the bike, and makes owning the bike really special. One unique bit we deliver with each frame is a USB filled with pictures of the bike being made and studio pictures. We also offer a range of metal finish options that is pretty unique. The anodization, polishing, brushing, and bead blasting we do allow customers to explore a huge range of customization while giving our bikes a consistent and identifiable look. And not using paint makes the finish more durable.
DailyBicycle: That sounds like a lot of valuable experience going into Firefly frame builds. Anyone who’s been around business knows that there’s a lot that goes into keeping even a small operation thriving. Currently, who is doing what at Firefly?
Kevin Wolfson: Good question. There isn’t one of us that keep it thriving. We work as a team, talking to customers, designing, building, and documenting bikes, marketing, managing inventory, etc. Of course, each of us has specific roles, but it’s true that the combination of those roles keeps us thriving. We’ve also had a lot of help from some wonderful people in and out of the industry who have volunteered their time and energy to help us succeed. ID29 in Troy, NY, created our logo, developed our brand identity, and made our website. Numerous media contacts have helped spread the word. We’re eternally grateful to all of those people.
DailyBicycle: Why the name Firefly?
Kevin Wolfson: Jamie grew up fascinated with fireflies, taking pictures and watching them light up the night in RI where he grew up. We considered a lot of names, then one day Jamie suggested Firefly. After some thought, we decided to go with it. The connection to fireflies is less literal than it is figurative. It’s about the feeling of wonder you get on a summer night, capturing that feeling and translating it to a custom bike.
DailyBicycle: Thanks Kevin!
Take a look at their beautiful and functional works of art here: www.fireflybicycles.com
Source: 2011 DailyBicycle