Thursday Cycles: Pocatello, ID
Interview with Jon Norstog
Jon Norstog thinks of himself as a designer who happens to build his own designs. He likes the rough-and-tumble style of durable designs and has never had a BMX bike come back broken. “I like to build for competition and extreme riding because these are uses that call for strong design and a good sense for what a bicycle is going to do when it is pushed hard. I also try to find the narrative – the story behind the design. I want the whole story before I even think of cutting any steel.”
What keeps you interested in the custom building industry?
Probably the people, the clients. I like dealing with an individual, learning enough about that person to give her or him a bike that allows them to take their riding to the next level.
Where do you look for inspiration? What’s out there that is inspiring
you these days?
I get a lot of inspiration and ideas from BMX. For instance, I learned how to use the stays and seat tube as the “core” of a frame on a BMX bike, while building just the right amount of flex into the front triangle. I use a similar approach on road and mountain bikes – generally I make my own stays so I can get them right. I like a bike with sharp, BMX-like handling and generally build bikes that are “point-and-shoot” on the trail.
The other thing I learned from building BMX bikes was how to build a lightweight frame that will hold together. I’ve never had a BMX bike come back broken.
Another inspiration for me was Keith Bontrager’s designs from the late ’80s and early ’90s, before he sold out to Trek. And Dave Kastan’s short-tailed design for the Mosh BMX bikes.
It looks like BMX is one of your specialties. What’s your history with BMX?
I started racing BMX at the old Duke City track in New Mexico. Mainly I just wanted to learn for myself what makes a good BMX bike. It’s a real kick! I enjoyed the sport so much that I kept at it, and have won five or six state geezer class cruiser championships. I’m one of the riders you have to watch out for at a national.
Tell me about one of your favorite projects.
I really enjoyed building the “Muttonmaster” bikes. They were originally designed for sheepherding on the Navajo Reservation, but a lot of them have found use as all-around urban bikes. They ride nice and can carry a prodigious amount of stuff.
What are you most looking forward to at Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show?
I hope the Rhythm Dogs play so I can sit in on trumpet.
The Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show is October 20-21 in Portland so we’re profiling the many talented makers who will be showcasing their skills in person at the show.
10am to 5pm on Saturday and 11am to 4pm on Sunday | Vigor Industries 5555 N. Channel Ave. in Portland.