Builder Profile: Sojourn Cyclery
Meet Jay Kinsinger, the Owner, Designer and Teacher at Sojourn Cyclery in Cedarville, Ohio.
We had been following Jay's work for a few years and he has built an impressive range of styles for a wide variety of riders. Jay got started building steel bicycle frames in the 1970s. In 2010 he saw a modern wood frame bicycle on the internet and spark was lit.
"I realized I could combine my love for bicycle frame building and woodworking." Jay Kinsinger
Jay has found over the years that many people who are excited about wood bikes are also excited about building their own.
"My first frame took 400 hours to build. Sane people will not waste that much time on a project." Jay Kinsinger
(with the exception of most of the bike builders profiled here)
When I reached out to Jay about this project, I was excited to learn that he is developing videos and workshops to help people build their own wood bikes and to ease the learning curve. Jay is a mechanical engineering professor during the school year and so brings his expertise as an instructor to the workshops. Jay recently ran a workshop out in California for a group of Apple employees.
"I showed up with the pieces machined and they assembled, sculpted applied finished and built the bikes in four days. It was extremely rewarding to watch them excitedly pedal off on a bicycle they crafted themselves." Jay Kinsinger
Read on to learn more about Sojourn Cyclery and Jay Kinsinger.
WBS: What type of bikes do you build?
Jay: I’ve built road ebikes, 29er-ebikes, mountain bikes, tandems, folding travel bikes (built five and we used them on an 8-week European cycle tour) kid-friendly tandem where the kid rides up front, cargo bike, gravel grinders, light-weight road bike, city bike, cruiser tandem, law-enforcement bike, and a duel-gates-carbon-drive giraffe unicycle (yes I ride it).
WBS: Do you typically build bikes to order? Do you offer custom builds?
Jay: Yes and yes.
WBS: What types of wood do you typically use?
Jay: Mostly walnut with maple accents, I’ve also used ash.
WBS: What do you love most about building wood bicycles?
Jay: It’s so organic. I feel like I’m connecting with a living thing. It’s like opening a present whenever I plane a rough board and reveal the beautiful grain and again when the first coat of finish is applied and the grain “pops”. A wooden bike has a positive carbon footprint.
WBS: What has been the biggest challenge / obstacle to success?
Jay: The perception that wood isn’t strong enough and/or heavy. Then there are all the crazy questions: “how about termites” , “does it float”, “what happens if you ride it through a forest fire”
WBS: What do you wish people knew about wood bicycles?
Jay: When designed and built correctly they are crazy tough! I did a static load test through the bottom bracket on a steel frame and the top-tube began to buckle at 800 pounds which is phenomenal. I was expecting less of a wooden bike frame but the load indicator cruised right past 800, 1,000, 1,500 and I stopped the test at 2,000 pounds because the fixture holding the frame was bending.
They are much easier to maintain “like new” than any other material. Crash a synthetic composite frame (carbon fiber) and it’s rubbish. Scratch the paint of a metal frame and it’s $2,000 for a new paint job. My wood tandem was greatly scarred when I bone-headedly leaned it against a rough wooden telephone pole and it kicked out. It was at the beginning of a cross-country tour so I had to live with it for several days. When I got home, all it required was some steel wool, a few ounces of finish and opposable thumbs and the bike now resides in the Bicycle Museum of America (http://www.bicyclemuseum.com/). I can’t even tell where the scrape was.
WBS: Where can people learn more about your work?