For two guys in a small shop
cranking out 120 frames a year, the term “underdog” seems fitting. And while Low Bicycles can’t match the R&D budget of the big boys, they offer riders something that a mass produced bicycle never will.
“When you have a certain level of interest in biking, you want something that is special, and when you get something custom, then, it feels like it’s yours,” Michael, one of the men behind Low, explains. For Andrew, the founder, it’s simple. “I like shit that is made in the USA, if I can get it and I feel like it is good quality. You know, and that is what it is.”
When you have a certain level of interest in biking, you want something that is special.
His no-bullshit attitude is refreshing. Standing next to the giant 1968 Bridgeport Mill he spent a full month restoring, it would be easy for Andrew to be bitter. He could be waxing poetic about the golden age of American manufacturing while cursing mindless consumerism, but instead he wants to show off his oven.
Yes, his oven. Andrew found an old kitchen oven off of Craigslist and hacked it into a new shop oven. “Most people just send their frames out to get heat treated, but they pay about $75 a frame… I was like fuck that,” Andrew laughs with a big smile.
Andrew’s favorite part of the frame building process is welding. And as he threads his headphones underneath his shirt, he explains that he listens to audiobooks, podcasts, and music as he works. As the second headphone goes into his ear, Andrew presses play. Just like that he slips into his zone with ease. Quality hand-built bicycles have beautifully clean welds, and to watch him work it’s easy to see why Andrew makes some of the best around. With the torch in his hand, his focus is singular.
Turning off the lights in the shop, the flame from the welder lights the whole room as Andrew continues his work. It’s silent except for the sound of the torch. It turns on and off as he feels the pedal with his barefoot. “People buy these bikes because they are into manufacturing, they want something unique, they’re looking for a personal connection, a story.”
For those who love to ride, it’s not uncommon to spend hundreds of hours on your bike every year. And for that reason, choosing the right bike is like shopping for a mattress; there’s value to investing in something that you spend so much time with. Like mom’s home cooking, it’s tough to explain why something made from scratch tastes better. “The intangibles,” Michael says.