Gibson Cycles is a one-man show started by me, Bill Gibson, in early 2020.
I run the workshop out of my garage on nights and weekends. I have been really into bicycles since I was a kid. It all began back in the days of jumping my BMX with my childhood buddies. I was always trading parts (not sure why I traded those Araya spoke wheels for GT mags…) and trash picking old frames to fix up. Later, I did some bike commuting while in college. In my late twenties, I had a physical resurgence and started mountain bike racing. I still do a few races each year, but I am more focused on enjoying the cycling community with group rides and touring. VeloPigs is a great example where I have gotten to do great rides and have met a bunch of really cool people. I love the combination of bikes, great people, and pushing myself physically.
I decided to start Gibson Cycles to fill a gap in the Northern Virginia area. If you want the latest and lightest bike and components or need the services of Northern Virginia’s best bike mechanic you can visit Mike and Tom at Plum Grove Cyclery. If you want a gorgeous vintage ride with an excellent pedigree or to get your VAR tool fix then Wayne at Velo Classique is your guy. What I found missing was help with an existing steel frame needing a few modifications to either modernize or to adapt for a new use, such as: adding a disc brake tab, adding canti brake bosses, additional water bottle bosses, 650B conversion or even repairing a crack.
I started brazing around 2014. I bought an old Schwinn frame and hired out some frame modifications. Unfortunately, they did not come out as I expected. The canti bosses were crooked and uneven. The cable stops were in bad shape. The work was TIG welded and the guy who did it was pretty good – but he was not a bike guy. He did not have any special jigs, he didn’t know that the canti bosses for a 700C wheel should be 285mm from the dropout and around 80mm apart. At the time, I didn’t know either! When I got that frame back, I realized I needed to learn more. Being mechanically inclined and hands-on, I dove in. There are some great books out there by Tim Paterek, Richard Talbot, and Dr. Paul Proteus. But at the end of the day, I really needed to pick up a torch to start learning.
I got a Victor J28 and set up an Oxy-Propane rig and have been brazing ever since. What is crazy is that my Dad was a welder for Amtrak his entire career. I grew up around Oxy-Acetylene paraphernalia like regulators, hoses, tip cleaners, etc. I only ever had a vague concept of what the stuff was. Life is such that my Dad passed away right as I started learning and belatedly following in his footsteps. Just writing this now I realize how much the “old man” has influenced my cycling enthusiasm. He used to tell stories of riding his wooden rimmed track bike through the streets in downtown Philadelphia in the early 70s. I don’t care who you are — that is pretty cool.
Gibson Cycles is fairly new but the demand is there. Coming up on my first year I have helped out more customers than I anticipated. I have even had return customers and referrals. I have met a bunch of interesting people who share the love of cycling and I have helped extend the miles on some great frames.