Circa Cycles uses a patent-pending process to quickly deliver bikes that are tailored to a cyclists riding style, body type and personality in a way that no other manufacturer can, at an extremely competitive price.
At Circa, by re-thinking the manufacturing process, we figured out how to create highly personalized bikes, right here in Portland, Oregon, really quickly and at a great price point. Basically, our vision is to make bikes to order, in 10 days or less, with complete bikes starting around $1,500.
What we came up with is a system that’s mixes the production efficiency of Ikea, the obsessive detail of Apple and the aesthetic versatility of Swatch, in a hyper-localized way.
Want to see a Trillium in person? Come see us at Woonwinkel in downtown Portland this Sunday, August 24, from 2:00-4:00.
935 SW Washington St, Portland, OR 97205
Sunday, August 24
We’re offering three complete bikes in a range of package types and styles. Each bike features our hand-made Trillium frame, an exclusive color palette, and one of our purpose-driven component packages.
People ride different ways, and for different reasons, so we’ve designed the Trillium to be really versatile so our riders can set them up how they like. The Trillium can be configured to be the perfect commuter, around town bike, or even be a great match for your favorite event ride like Cycle Oregon.
We offer the Trillium in 3 component packages: Road, City and Town, or as a bare frame. The packages provide a range of handlebar, drivetrain, saddle and wheel options for different types of riders.
The Trillium is the first frame we’ve created using our MABEL™ manufacturing platform, and it’s the core of our bikes. We wanted the Trillium to be a compelling blend of versatility, affordability and personalization, all accomplished with local production.
Circa is more than just one bike. It’s an entirely new way of making and delivering bikes to people. To make this possible, we created a new manufacturing platform that we call MABEL™.
We took a close look at why bike manufacturing using traditional methods has mostly left the US. What we learned was that there are five enemies to making affordable frames in the states: Heat, Paint, Tooling, Labor and Geometric Complexity.
Adhesives replace heat Welding and brazing creates a bunch of issues, but the biggest ones are that it’s a high-skill operation, and cleaning up the welds afterwards takes a lot of time. Our substitute for heat is our modular and bonded lug system that we call MABEL. If you think about it, airplanes and race cars are bonded together. There’s no reason not to bond bikes, too. Also, remember that ultimately, carbon bikes are primarily glue with carbon fiber in it. We’re not reinventing the wheel with this idea, just making it better.
Anodizing replaces paint Paint is a really common way to finish bicycle frames, but its also very expensive and time-consuming when done here in the states. To get around paint, we use a process called anodizing that lets us apply color to our frames in a way that’s more durable than paint, very fast and very cost effective. In Portland, we’ve got several excellent anodizers, and they’re great to work with.
CNC replaces tooling Tooling is expensive and only pays for itself if you have huge volumes. It’s also not particularly flexible if you want to make changes to your designs. We use local CNC vendors to make our frame components in small batches. This also gives us flexibility for easy customization and modifications to our designs. The other upside to CNC is that many of our vendors use California-made Haas mills.
Labor is reduced by innovation Bikes made by hand in the states through traditional methods can take 50-100 hours to build. That’s a LOT of time, especially when factoring in a reasonable wage for the craftspeople doing that work. Again, CNC to the rescue. Once we have all of the components of our frames, actual assembly takes about 10 person-hours or less.
Modularity solves for geometric complexity The last factor that really affects cost is what we call geometric complexity. The basic challenge is that many of the angles of a bike frame change a little as you scale the design for different frame sizes. The modular nature of our MABEL manufacturing platform makes it really easy to deal with all of these slight angle changes.
The angles and proportions of the Trillium frame were designed to provide a super-stable, neutral riding platform. Some would call it a “Sport” geometry. It would make a great commuter or town bike and would also be superb for longer event rides like Cycle Oregon.
People ride for various reasons, and those differences affect how you might want to set your bike up. The Trillium can be configured to be the perfect commuter, around town bike, or even be a great match for your favorite event ride like Cycle Oregon. Want to run drop bars and a derailleur? No problem. Flat bars and an internal gear hub? Super. We’ve got that covered, too. If you just want to go single-speed, or fixie, yeah, no problem there either. Because you’re purchasing from the source and our manufacturing process enables ‘just in time’ production, you have the option of choosing colors and component packages for your Trillium.
Oodles of fender clearance for staying tidy, even in a Portland winter
The Trillium’s top tube is sloped at 7º to make it easier for riders with a wide range of body types to stand over the bike comfortably and safely.
Light, smooth-riding 6061 aluminum tubing from U.S. mills.
The Trillium comes with a carbon fork with rack and fender mounts.
The Circa Trillium is sized to be comfortable for a wide range of rider heights. The sloping top-tube also makes the Trillium particularly comfortable for riders with shorter legs. If you’re unsure of which size is best for you, feel free to ask us. You can also use this chart when selecting your Trillium frame size:
|Rider Height (est)||5’4”-5’7”||5’7”-5’9”||5’10”-6’0”|
|Top Tube Length||530mm||550mm||565mm|
|Head Tube Length||122mm||150mm||174mm|
|Head Tube Angle||72 degrees||72||72 degrees|
|Seat Tube Angle||74 degrees||73.5||73 degrees|
Trillium frames are created almost entirely in Portland, Oregon. The key parts of our frames are CNC’d and anodized here, and the frame assembly and final bike build is done by hand here, as well. Most of our CNC vendors use mills produced by Haas in California. The aluminum we use comes from American mills, and the process is extremely efficient. Even the aluminum chips from the CNC machines get recycled for re-use.
Portland has a fantastic community of manufacturing vendors. We spent a huge amount of time collaborating with them to optimize our designs for their equipment and processes so we could get the best balance of beauty, performance and economy. The other upside on working with local vendors is that it’s much more fun to drive or ride down the road to meetings than to fly half-way around the planet.
The money we raise through this campaign will be used to refine our designs, set up a dedicated manufacturing facility, machine the initial sets of frame components and then build your bikes.
We’ve successfully built and tested the first prototypes and have ridden them extensively in various conditions and terrains as you may have seen in some of our videos. We’ve learned a lot from these, and there are a few refinements that need to be made. We believe that these optimizations are minor and shouldn’t be difficult to resolve.
Circa Dreaming: Circa San Francisco, Circa NYC, Circa Chicago and Beyond
Circa is more than just one bike. It’s an entirely new way of making bikes, and a new business model, as well. Here are a few of our goals beyond this campaign as we scale the company:
Circa is more than just one bike. It’s an entirely new way of making bikes. This is a great opportunity to contribute to the re-birth of local bike manufacturing. Thanks so much for your help and support.