Chris Bishop, of Bishop Bikes, is a master of beautiful track builds. Today, we have the pleasure of having an exclusive interview with him as well as a special look at his Columbus Gilco fixed gear build.
- polished stainless Japanese Nikko lugs
- stainless KVA chain stays
- Courage drop outs
- Paint by Bryan Myers at Fresh frame
- stainless King Headset
- Phil track cranks
- Victoire/Bishop Supersprint hubs laced up to Enve 3.4 rims by Tommy at Cutlass wheels
- Campy seat post
- Cinelli stem fluted
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Baltimore City but lived in Florida, San Francisco and Portland back to SF and ended up back in Baltimore and started bike messengering.
When did you get into building bikes and why?
I raced BMX bikes as a kid and always worked on all my bikes since I did not have much money to pay anyone to and would rather spend the little money I did have on parts.
Later in '96, I became a bike messenger and ended up being a partner in a courier owned bicycle messenger service. We rented an office in a storefront and opened a small bike shop to support the fixed gear courier scene. During that period, our mechanic went off to UBI to take the frame building course and came back to Baltimore with a frame he had built which peaked my interest. Years later, he moved to Portland and continued building frames and came back to Baltimore with a bike with his name on the down tube and I knew I needed to try my hand at frame building. I had been a carpenter for years before becoming a messenger and missed working with my hands. I saw the courier business scaling down with e-filing technology and security becoming a huge pain. After 9/11, I was looking for something new.
In 2006 I took Steve Garn's, of BREW Bikes, first frame building course and then Yamaguchi's and was hooked.
When did you start Bishop Bikes? How's that going?
I started Bishop bikes in 2007-08 after building for friends. I built many forks and did repairs for a couple of years, putting in 100+ hour weeks while messengering full time. I was pretty miserable, but knew that failure was not an option.
I stay busy and try and keep things fresh.
Where would you say is the best place to ride? Where is place you haven't been to, but always wanted to?
The best place to ride for me is always somewhere new that I have not been before with friends or good people. I always wanted to go to Australia and New Zealand as well as Japan ( I have been in the airport on the way to Thailand but that does not count)
My local stomping grounds that I do most of my riding is northern Baltimore County, usually out of Oregon ridge park to Pretty boy reservoir and back. A typical loop I do on a week day is 43 miles with 4030 feet of elevation, which is a good work out, but allows for half a day of work afterward and unfortunately, riding does not pay the bills anymore.
How do you take your coffee?
Strong dark roasted coffee (Zeke's Royal Blue being one of my favorite local blends) with cream and a little sugar.
Walk us through a day in the life of Chris Bishop.
I usually get up between 6-6:30 and work for an hour and a half to two hours usually doing finish work then make lunch and breakfast for my four year old daughter while my wife gets her dressed. I take her to nursery school and return to work in the shop until 5-5:30 then make dinner with the exception of my riding day where I ride after dropping off my daughter and return to the shop after that. Nothing all that interesting, but I do listen to music non-stop while in the shop and would happily give up my milling machines before my stereo.
What makes a great steel bike?
The best lugged steel bikes in the world can be built with half round files and no milling machines, but not with milling machines and no files.
For more with Chris, visit his Website.
Now go out there and build your perfect dream bike.