Argonaut Cycles’ product line of cutting-edge, custom, handcrafted carbon fiber frames bucks the Portland cliche: lugged steel, utilitarian designs, a conspicuous focus on the relationship between builder and customer more than the actual product itself, and fidelity to the local economy.
Not that these attributes are bad, of course. And Argonaut’s Ben Farver is a standout graduate of the “Portland School.” He has an extensive background in steel frame production and was an exclusively steel bike builder from when he opened Argonaut in 2007, through 2010.
But Farver became frustrated with steel tubing options, and like any true visionary, when the right technologies don’t exist, you develop them yourself. “I wanted to develop my own proprietary technology, even though carbon production is a completely different process to steel production,” he says.
Argonaut molds complete carbon fiber frame sections with continuous fibers where individual tubesets are typically joined – seat-tube, bottom bracket and head tube clusters – with variable angles that result in custom frame geometries depending on the customers’ needs. Argonaut have the only carbon frame section mold program in the country.
“The result of this process is that we’re able to better control wall thicknesses, which results in a better ride and better handling,” says Farver.
2013 marks Argonaut’s first NAHBS appearance. Farver says that they intend to build 40 frames this year, with a capacity for up to 200 per year.
Betraying his Portland roots, Farver appreciates the supportive community that NAHBS offers to builders. “It’s cohesive, tight and friendly – like an artisans’ guild.”