Chris Kvale Cycles
Builder Profile

About Chris

The bicycle is the passion of my life. My racing career spanned 22 years, from 1965 to 1987. I was Category 1 rider who competed locally (winning many Minnesota district titles in both senior and veteran events), regionally, nationally, and internationally, and I was invited to the 1967 PanAm trials (placing seventh in one event) and the 1968 and 1972 Olympic trials. In 1977 my brother Kevin and I set a transcontinental record, riding frames built by me; in 1979 we were invited to Paris-Brest-Paris by the organizers of the event.
The intensity of racing helped me to understand how important the frame was for any rider to reach his or her potential, my first custom frame was built in Italy. With the bike boom of the 1970s modern American frame building became established and I had a series of American-made custom frames. The availability of tubes, lugs, fork crowns, and other frame parts through a local importer inspired some riders in the Twin Cities to begin building their own frames, and a few sought my advice on design because of my racing and touring experience.
Combining my experience on the bike with my mechanical skills, I completed my first frame in early 1976, and began painting bicycle frames soon afterwards. I am essentially self-taught, working by and for myself while incorporating advice and guidance from many other framebuilders. After building frames full-time in my home for six years, I have been in two commercial locations building and painting frames without interruption to the present day.
My style of thinned, tapered lugs expresses my sense of beauty and minimalism through simplicity where form follows function. Even before instituting the use of CKC engraved fork crowns, this style made it possible to identify my frames with the paint off. My preference for the simple and the practical extends to my paint jobs, both for CKC frames and classic restorations; the end result is an elegant working bicycle.
I continue to be a recreational cyclist, riding about five thousand miles a year, and every summer take a few friends on a tour to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Long a devotee of the fixed gear, I train on a track bike in the spring and commute daily through the Minnesota seasons.
Builder Statement

Chris Kvale individually designs classic custom frames for optimum fit and specific performance requirements. Two of the most important aspects of a custom bicycle frame are the following:
     The fit is the best possible for the rider
     The design is the best possible for its use

Each Chris Kvale frame is custom made to meet both objectives; it will provide a superior fit and will be designed to be comfortable and stable, allowing you to achieve your maximum performance whether it be a fast recreational ride or a long-distance tour.

The fitting procedure in the shop takes about three hours and includes a thorough consideration of the design concepts and frame dimensions. In addition to taking your body measurements, the fitting includes an analysis of your current frame and a ride together to understand the dynamic relationship between you and your bicycle. If you are unable to visit the shop, we can discuss via telephone and e-mail the details of the new frame. This discussion will center around you and your bicycle and your requirements for a new frame, including instructions for taking your body measurements.

Construction Materials

The frame is constructed with specialty steel tubing; the type and weight of tubing are chosen to match your weight, riding style, and use. It is built in a traditional lugged style with standard or oversize tubing, curved fork blades, all standard braze-ons, a choice of two styles of seatstays, and a stainless steel tunnel through the top tube for the rear brake cable casing. Materials include Columbus and Reynolds tubing, investment cast fork crowns engraved CKC, Henry James investment cast lugs and bottom brackets, and forged dropouts. Other fork crowns and lugs are available on request.


Painting, decaling, and clearcoating are all done in my shop. A wide range of DuPont Imron paint, either solid or metallic, is available. Each paint job is custom, from single colors to popular patterns including contrasting headtubes, downtube panels, and seattube panels. Multiple coats of clear are applied over the decals to achieve a smooth, level finish.

I prefer Du Pont Imron, a two-part polyurethane epoxy paint, for its durability and fade resistance. The current Du Pont Imron catalog has 300 solid and metallic colors; also available are Imron colors from previous catalogs, pearls, and custom mixes. In the shop are pieces of tube painted with the colors chosen by my customers over the last thirty years.

First, the frame is stripped chemically and inspected for rust or other damage; then the frame receives a phosphoric acid bath which inhibits corrosion and promotes primer adhesion. The primer coat is Du Pont polyurethane epoxy; the color coat is usually two coats for solids and three for metallics. After application of decals, the clearcoat is applied to the desired thickness depending on the type of decals used and finish desired.

A large selection of reproduction decals is available for many American custom and production frames and for many European and Japanese production frames.

One at a time......

Individually made, one at a time, each frame requires many days of work. The frame is silver brazed throughout, except for the dropouts, which are brass brazed. The lugs are finely filed, thinned, and finished to an elegant simplicity. The resulting frame is carefully and meticulously finished to a high level of craftsmanship.

In addition to building my own frames, I repair and paint other frames and specialize in work on classic frames built since the 1960s. Frames can be refurbished to modern standards or restored to a high level of authenticity with modern decals.

Classic sport and recreational road frames are the specialty of Chris Kvale Cycles. Touring, commuting, and racing (road and track) frames are also available.

Products and services available utilizing BTCs.

We sell frames only

Custom frames
Retrofitting services Construction methods Frame materials Purchase from
Contact Information:

Chris Kvale Cycles
2637 27th Avenue S.
Minneapolis, MN 55406

Phone: 612-724-8843

Chris Kvale Cycles

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