Frances Cycles bills itself as “small-time bicycle design and manufacture”, but the Santa Cruz, Calif.-based shop builds custom bicycles and trailers for cyclists whose journeys and ambitions are anything but limited.
Head builder Joshua Muir uses exclusively steel tubesets (American-made True Temper ones) to build road, cross, cargo, randonneur, brevet and everyday bicycles for the discerning consumer, but with their Farfarer trailer builds and Muir’s self-described penchant for cargo bikes, Frances Cycles are clearly designed for utility and the long haul.
Not that loaded touring bikes can’t be a beautiful thing, and Muir lists fit, performance, utility and, yes, beauty as attributes of his bikes. He fancies himself an American constructeur, the French term used to describe builders like Alex Singer and Jo Routens, who built complete bicycles as an integrative whole, with each part serving an holistic end result. Muir’s integrative process involves the design, manufacture and assembly of complete bicycles, and so what leaves his small, tidy coastal California shop is ready to hit the open road.
Frances also offers modification and repair of other manufacturer’s steel frames, to include alignment, tube replacement and braze-on additions.
Besides his professed advocacy of cargo bikes, Muir describes “good tires” - fast, wide and durable ones - as the most exciting trend in cycling today.