Here at Hampsten Cycles, our ideas about how a bike should fit and ride have been strongly influenced by Andy’s many years of racing and riding. During Andy’s 22-year racing career he worked closely with coaches Eddy B, Paul Koechli, Eddy Merckx, and Dr. Max Testa, who all helped refine his riding technique and position. Andy’s career is covered in more detail elsewhere on this site.
Steve Hampsten started racing, touring, and working in bike shops in the mid-1970s and continued for the next ten years, followed by a hiatus to pursue high-end restaurant cooking. 1996 found Steve working in welding, blacksmithing, metal fabrication, and, later, bicycle construction at match bicycle company. Steve and Andy started Hampsten Cycles in 1999.
Our bicycle and frame designs reflect many of our past influences and present-day experiences, as well as a long-abiding love of riding bicycles. While both looking back at the past and ahead to the future, our designs focus on joining the best materials using both classic and modern construction techniques, but always with a traditional outlook.
A properly fitted bicycle is centered on the stem, which we think of in terms of sizes: small (90-100mm, for frames in the 50-54cm range), medium (110-120mm, for 54.5-57cm range), and large (120-130mm, for 57.5cm and up range). A bicycle built around the proper stem length – giving correct reach – will have optimal weight distribution and handling characteristics. We believe that the cure for a poorly fitting bicycle is not a longer/shorter stem but rather a well-built frame using the correct length stem. Your saddle height and the drop to your handlebars are always taken into consideration when suggesting seat tube and head tube length. We use BikeCAD as a drawing tool and we are not shy about making fit and size recommendations. Our custom frames are built using the following guidelines:
Gran Paradiso for fast road riding, training, and racing using 23-27mm tires, short-reach calipers, Enve or Falz carbon fork.
Team Pro as above but in steel, with lugs, maybe using a brazed steel fork.
MAX is intended for larger/stronger riders or those wanting a stouter steel frame. May be built for fenders or not.
Strada Bianca for a stable, comfortable feel on rougher roads using 24-33mm tires, 57mm-reach calipers, possibly fenders with medium-width or narrow tires. Fork choices include HampCo steel, Seven Cycles molded, and custom Wound Up fork.
Travelissimo – get it to go with S&S couplers in welded steel or titanium. Choice of geometry, brakes, and fork.
Forks are steel or carbon. We use carbon forks from Advanced Composites/Wound Up, Seven Cycles, Enve Composites, and Falz from Pegoretti. They all make great products, provide a wide range of models to choose from, and all forks we sell will work with 25mm tires at a minimum. Our Strada Bianca model requires a special fork built for long-reach/57mm calipers, which are made by Wound Up or Seven to our specifications. Enve forks will work with up to a 27mm tire using short-reach calipers. Steel forks for selected Hampsten frames are made in-house here at HampCo.
Steel has come a long way with the development of thin-walled oversized tubing, which can be heat-treated and air-hardened for maximum strength. This allows us to build a lighter frame that provides a livelier road feel than was the case with steel frames of the past. We feel because of its strength, resilience, ride, and relative ease of working that steel is still one of the best all-round materials for a bicycle frame. We use primarily Columbus for our steel tubing with some True Temper worked in as needed.
Titanium has proven itself to be an excellent material for bicycle frames. Less dense than steel – and more elastic than aluminum, carbon, or steel – titanium is an excellent choice for riders seeking a light, comfortable, and durable frame. We use both 3/2.5 straight-gauge and butted tubing for our ti builds.
Aluminum is a material that has been evicted from the high-end frame market of late. Less dense than steel or titanium, aluminum provides more road feedback than most frames – which can be good or bad, depending on your perspective. We like aluminum frames here but we’re not currently selling them.
Carbon fiber is particularly well suited for use in forks as well as frames. The beauty of carbon is that it can be flexible where needed – for example along the fork blades and stays – and strong and stiff elsewhere, particularly at fork crowns and tube intersections.
Scot Nicol of Ibis Cycles has a great treatise right here on material selection.