Our Hampsten-branded bicycles and frames reflect many of our past influences and present-day experiences, as well as a long-abiding love of riding bicycles and a desire to implement our ideas on bicycle design. 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.
Here at Hampsten Cycles our ideas about how a bike should fit and ride have been strongly influenced by Andy Hampsten’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 and on the Internet.
Andy and Steve Hampsten started racing and touring in the mid-1970s. After working in bicycle shops, followed by several years of cooking in high-end restaurants, the mid-to-late 1990s found Steve exploring welding, blacksmithing, metal fabrication, and furniture design.This was then followed by bicycle frame construction at match bicycle company just outside of Seattle. Steve and Andy started Hampsten Cycles in 1999.
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 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.
We organize our bicycle models using two methods: by tire size and by the technology involved. Some mixing and matching between different models happens frequently.
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-around materials for a bicycle frame. We use primarily Columbus for our steel tubing.
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 US-made 3/2.5 straight-gauge for our ti builds.
Aluminum is a material that seems to be making a comeback in 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 offering 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.