'Natural' dream for cycling fan
At 30, he realizes goal as owner of frame-building shop
By Lesley Young
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Michael Crum's dream was to have his own custom bicycle frame shop by the time he was 30.
While he was working as a bike mechanic at Outdoors Inc., he told one of his customers about his plans, and word got around. Some time later, the customer's boyfriend came into the store and offered to help.
Now, at 30, Crum has received orders for eight custom bicycle frames in the past year since he and his silent partner started Magnolia Cycles.
"He just came in and told me he was interested in investing his money in something he was passionate about," said the Mountain Home, Ark., native.
Crum has worked on bikes since he was in junior high school, while participating in racing and mountain biking sports.
"I just fell in love with it. It was the only thing I stuck with," he said. "I lived in a small town, and the sense of freedom it gave you. ... You could ride anywhere on a bike, and I always had fun. It just felt natural."
The former art student completed a couple of courses in bicycle maintenance and frame building at the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Ore.
He also established a solid relationship with his metalsmith instructor while attending Memphis College of Art and learned what would prove to be useful brazing and metal fabrication techniques.
Crum builds custom frames for mountain bikes, road bikes and cyclo-cross bikes -- road bikes built to go off-road -- in a small wooden garage in the backyard of his home in the Vollintine-Evergreen neighborhood of Midtown.
Using a computer program, he customizes frames to fit a rider's size, riding style and festoonery -- color, bells and whistles -- by punching in the customer's measurements and getting a drawing with the information he needs to cut and weld the frame.
"I don't have enough control over some aspects, (and) I have actually considered just going back to my drafting table and drawing the design by hand," Crum said.
After he opened the business, the first frame he built was for himself.
"It sounds selfish," he says, but it was "mainly due to the fact that I was just getting back into brazing and did not want anyone riding that first bike aside from myself," he said. "I'm still riding it."
He says he'd like to one day make a penny-farthing bicycle, "the ones that have the really big front wheel and the small back wheel."
"It's a very different type of ride, and I think it would be interesting to learn how to make one."
He also hopes to get more involved in the Memphis cycling community.
"As a company, we really want to support local cycling and raise awareness of cycling," Crum says.
Profession: Owner of Magnolia Cycles, custom bicycle frame shop
Phone: (901) 485-7021
Hometown: Mountain Home, Ark.
Family: Fiancée, Amber Ragland, 28; two dogs, Samson, 5, and Mischa, 1; and two cats, Boo, who weighs more than 20 pounds, and Shaggy.
Hobbies: Photography, painting and bike riding