Johnny Coast grew up with the smell of steel. His father worked in the auto industry doing bodywork and had his own custom shop at one time.His grandfather was a machinist and quality control inspector that worked on nuclear bomb triggers. He still uses the tools he inherited from his Grandfather. So it was only natural that Johnny would learn to weld at age 13. After working with his father for a number of years, when Johnny was looking for a career path of his own, his friend Seth Rosko mentioned the United Bicycle Institute frame building course. He enrolled in the UBI course and also in courses from Koichi Yamaguchi who was the master builder at 3Rensho for many years. Later, he also took machine shop courses locally to learn to use a milling machine and lathe. Eight years ago he got his own space, that he shared with frame builder Seth Rosko, to setup shop in Brooklyn, New York. Seth has since moved into his own space.
Johnny started out making a lot of fixed gear frames because "that is what people wanted". Given his New York City location that is not surprising. He says that when Jan Heine started writing articles about randonneuring he got interested in building randonneuring bikes. A beautiful rando bike was shown at the 2012 Cirque du Ciclismo and he tied for best City bike. He is thinking about making twins for the 2013 event. He now has customers from far and wide but he says shipping can get to be difficult to more exotic places. He had a customer in Brazil that had a tough time figuring out how he would get the framed shipped at a reasonable cost.
Johnny has built a number of custom fixtures over the years to speed up some of the time consuming frame-building procedures, like adding braze-ons.
Recently, he has been exploring Bi-Lam lugs or what he says Hank James calls "half-lugs," an old treatment that combines a lug and filet brazing in the same joint.
He first used it in mixtie frames ordered by Chris Kulczycki for Velo-Orange, since there where no lugs made for the angles required in the mixte.
It takes him about 60 hours to build a frame these days and he makes about 35 frames a year. Richard Sachs lugs, fork blades provided by Compass Cycles, and True temper tubing are some of the materials he likes to use. He stays flexible about what he builds and looks for new ideas and experiments a bit, like trying to do some fine hand done lug lining on a recent frame.
Johnny also makes classic "Singer look" stems for his randonneuring bikes. He has just received a gleaming batch of stems back from his plater which were really stunning.
In addition to his french style custom stems Johnny has designed his own front brake cable hanger. He found the commonly available units to just not match the aesthetic that he wanted so he created his own elegant solution.
He is working with Chris Kvale for his paintwork now and is pleased with the precision with which Chris works. Chris has got a fine eye for color and will ask for paint samples to match a request exactly.
For more information see Johnny's website at www.johnnycoast.com