If you know Above Category, in all likelihood you know about Mosaic’s incredible steel and titanium custom bikes that we’ve had on our walls and been riding since January of 2013. You’ve read about Derek’s Louisiana adventure on his new Mosaic RT-1, all our ride reviews and seen some incredible Mosaic builds featured in our Gallery plus Bike of the Week.
But who is behind Mosaic? What are the founding principles of the company and what does the future hold? We recently spoke with Aaron Barcheck, founder of Mosaic, about all this and more.
Photos by John Watson of The Radavist (www.theradavist.com), Derek Yarra and Mosaic.
1. How many years have you been building bikes for? I started building frames in 2002, so 13 years or so.
2. How many frames have you built in that time? I don’t know the exact number but surely over a thousand.
3. How did you get started in the industry and who/what have been your main influences? I started at another company, Dean Bicycles, as a collage job working my way up through the ranks and gaining experience. Their production was mostly titanium so that’s where I learned everything, machining and welding, and gravitated to it quickly. At that time “handmade bicycles” was still an emerging idea with many large production companies making stock sizing and models and the new carbon segment exploding onto the scene and taking over metal bikes. This landscape along with a lack of small builders in the Colorado front-range was a big influencer of what I thought handmade and custom bicycles could be in the future.
4. What do you feel sets you apart from other builders? The approach we take to building bicycles is what really sets us apart from other builders. Where other companies produce stock builds or narrowed options, our “Bespoke Process” aims to meet each individual rider’s needs and goals with their new Mosaic. In doing so we converge many small details from body geometry, material and tube selection, frame handling and personal aesthetics into a well put together piece of performance equipment. Not to mention our craftsmanship and titanium metalworking stand on their own…
5. You’re in Boulder, Colorado. How does your geographic location affect your designs? The place I call home has been a big influence in Mosaic’s design choices. Colorado is an amazing place to be a cyclist no matter which discipline. Road, Mountain, Cyclocross, Touring and Adventure. Colorado, and the Boulder area in particular, has endless epic routes and trails. For Mosaic this has translated into building bikes for the way we ride and for the serious enthusiast that wants to tackle compelling terrain. Bikes that meet the needs of long climbs, fast technical descents, dirt roads, racing, winter riding and more.
5. Do you prefer working with steel or titanium? I gravitate mostly to titanium but have a special place in my heart for steel. Titanium is one of, if not the most, versatile material to build bike frames with. It has endless tubing options to fine tune riding characteristics, great durability for longevity and a ride characteristic that makes it difficult to build a frame that doesn’t have a good feel. It is both challenging and rewarding to fabricate with, as a welding professional it keeps you on your toes and allows for a continual evolution of the design process.
I’ve have been riding steel more and more lately, our RS-1 model has to be one of the most balanced riding bicycles I’ve ever made for myself but I don’t think it will ever fully replace my snappy, racy, RT-1.
6. You’ve got 5 models in your current line-up, all of which are available in either titanium and steel. Can you characterize each model in just one word?• R-series (race): Pure• X-series (cyclo-cross): Grit• M-series (hard-tail MTB): Fierce• T-series (travel bike): Pioneer• G-series (gravel): Adventure
7. Which one of your models is your personal favorite and why? Each Mosaic model offers a unique ride characteristic so it is difficult to say if I have a favorite. The last few months I almost exclusively rode my RT-1d in preparation for the Rouge Roubaix race and there is just something about the way I built this particular frame that we get along really well. It’s a fast bike, it handles fast, it accelerates fast, it descends fast, it climbs fast and oh yeah it stops fast (disc brakes!).
Of course, then I jump on my RS-1 and it just feels so good: light, snappy and steel is so real! Don’t forget about Cyclocross season either, my XT-1d will go anywhere, do just about anything and CX racing is just too much fun. I guess you could say I have a few favorites :-)
8. Do you paint and finish your frames in house? Our raw titanium finishes have been a defining characteristic of Mosaic and we do these all in house. I’ve worked with a painter in Colorado, Spectrum Powder Works, for years. They do a great job with their finish work and some unbelievable achievements with powder coat.
9. What is your future for bicycle design? It’s always been important to me that Mosaic keep up with the evolution of cycling products while applying the perspective of a small frame builder and staying true to our values and process. This means analyzing all the information and new standards the bicycle industry comes out with every season, incorporating the ideas into our product line that we feel offer lasting value to our riders and working with our partners to make sure that Mosaic Customers get the best possible riding experience with their bike.