Who among us doesn’t dream about riding a custom-made bike?
While the price of a custom-made bike is beyond the reach of many cyclists, the desire remains, riding a bike made just for me.
Twin Cities cyclists Dillon Hodapp and David Heisserer hope to bring the custom bike and do it yourself movement together, by helping to make at least one of the tools necessary for custom bike creation (the Jig).
First a little background. A frame jig is an essential tool for building bike frames. There are some jigs on the market today, but most are designed with the production builder in mind and are well beyond the budget of the average person that just wants get started in bicycle building. Dillon and David have a Kickstarter project that will bring an affordable jig to those looking to start out. The project first caught our eye due tot he desire to build a custom bike, but once we saw that they are from the Twin Cities, we caught up with Dillon for an interview.
CTC: First why don’t you start off by telling us a little bit about each of you, what are your day jobs?
Dillon: David has owned a design/build firm for the past 10 years. He specializes in revamping interiors with beautiful designs that are also executed by him. Dillon is a mechanical engineer that was worked in the medical device field. Last year they teamed up and formed Mixed Media Engineering a company that specializes in creative endeavors, from new product design to building experiential advertising tools to machine design. Our art-meets-technology approach has resulted in products that are creative, aesthetically pleasing with all of the wiz-bang of electronics, code and engineering.
CTC: How did you guys start working together?
Dillon: We’ve been friends for years and have always talked about setting out on some sort of endeavor together. Last summer we joined up and entered an engineering competition put on by Red Bull called Red Bull Creation. We built 2 projects for the competition, the first was a modern-day message-in-a-bottle that could send and receive text messages and had GPS tracking. We set up a website called TextTheBottle.com where people could view a Google map of our bottle and all of the messages that had been sent to it along the way. For the final competition we were flown out to Brooklyn to compete in a 72 hour build-a-thon against 15 other teams from around the country. For that we built an 8 foot tall human-powered hamster wheel that could spray paint crowd generated text messages onto the ground. It was a crowd favorite and won first place by unanimous decision. That competition was the catalyst for us to start our business, Mixed Media Engineering. (www.mixedmediaeng.com)
Dillon: David had the idea for The Jiggernaut after talking with a bicycle enthusiast that wanted to try frame building. David is really into flat pack design (think IKEA ) and thought it would be cool to incorporate that into frame building somehow. We joined up and discovered that the frame jigs on the market were geared toward professional builders and had a price tag to match. We wanted to build one for our own use anyway and figured that we must not be the only people who balked at the price of available jig solutions. So in designing a tool for our own use, we came up with the concept of the Jiggernaut and wanted other people to benefit from the design time we put in.
CTC: Who is your target audience for this, are you hoping to start a revolution of home frame builders?
Dillon: Our target audience is anyone looking to build a bike frame that doesn’t yet own a jig and can’t justify the cost of a $1,200 professional model. We’re learning that this includes a lot of people who are first time builders. We also found that frame building supply websites are difficult to navigate for newbies. It isn’t always clear which parts are compatible and it can be daunting looking through all of the available parts. Because of this we also offer a kit to build a simple track bike so people can know the are getting a kit that just works.
CTC: Did you work with any Twin Cities based frame builders in the design of this project?
Dillon: We didn’t work with any professional builders, but we have some friends that build bike frames as a hobby and were able to bounce ideas off of them and gauge their reactions. One friend, Jonah Nielsen was especially generous with his time and advice.
CTC: What helps you keep the cost of this Jig down, compared to others like it?
Dillon: The Jiggernaut is made from MDF which is an inexpensive, flat, and easy to find material. Because almost the entire structure is build from this, it really helps to keep the material costs down. We have a CNC router do all of the machining of the MDF which can be expensive in very small batches, but quickly becomes affordable when you can run 25 – 50 kits at a time. Because we use an inexpensive material and a manufacturing process that scales cheaply we are able to offer The Jiggernaut at a lower price than our competitors.
Dillon: So far we’ve built the lugged bike that we offer in our kit and are currently working on a welded 29er frame.
CTC: What type of association do you have with the Angry Catfish?
Dillon: David lives down the street from the Angry Catfish and asked Josh if we could shoot our video in the store because we like the look of his shop. Josh obliged and allowed us to shoot our video one afternoon in the store.
CTC: What types of riding do you guys like to do around the Twin Cities?
Dillon: David rides mostly for leisure and transportation. I do a lot of commuting from Minneapolis to Maple Grove by bike and like to ride MTB at Theodore Wirth because I live very close to there.
CTC: Do you have a favorite Twin Cities Cycling event?
Dillon: My favorite event is probably the Homey Fall Fest. With a close second being any massive, slow moving group ride that takes a few breaks for beer.
Dillon and David reached (and exceeded) their Kickstarter funding goal so the Jiggernaut will become a reality later this year. The Kickstarter runs through the end of the month after which, you will be able to find the Jiggernaut at www.flatpackfoundry.com.