When we saw Jeremy ‘Kickstand’ Hottinger’s new steel frame by Ferrum Bikes, it brought a new company to our attention. What was a US brand from Las Vegas doing making steel full suspension bikes? We dropped them a line to find out who they are.
STW:Admittedly we’re all the way over in the UK, but we’d not heard of you before Kickstand introduced us. Should we have – who are you and where have you been?!
Matt @Ferrum: 2016 was when the idea formed in our minds inspired by U.K. geometry but at a much better price point. 2017 is when we made our first prototype and with all the prototypes and inertia of starting something like this, we didn’t bother to invest the time into marketing. We wanted to make the product well before we put ourselves out there. It’s kind of a civilized Wild West feel here. It’s not uncommon for you to see pedal bikes, motorbikes, cars, trucks anything with wheels sending it really hard in the desert. We’re adrenaline fueled and our bikes we’re born by 2 childhood friends in the nastiest, rockiest, hottest and least forgiving terrain.
Your website says you couldn’t find bikes you wanted, so you decided to make your own. What are the key things that you were looking for?
Fit and feel. There are a lot of good bikes out there. If you spend $2,500+ on a bike, you’re on something nice but does it fit you well? We wanted to change what we felt the traditional manufacturers were too oblivious to. A bike that fits you is something magical. Modern geometry with no worries about turning off the masses. The big brands are catching up in geometry but not on feel.
Is this a full time job for you, a hobby, or a side project you’re hoping to grow?
This is our main focus. Growth of Ferrum is our focus but we never want to treat any of our supporters as customers or numbers. When you buy a frame, you’re better than family to us.
There’s a pretty strong tradition of building steel bikes here in the UK, but it seems like it’s much more unusual in the USA. Would you agree? Any ideas why that might be the case?
Completely unusual for sure. People are usually fixated on Carbon Fibre here because they are new to two wheels and extreme sports in general. Also the majority of the MTB crowd here doesn’t come from similar background as us or a typical U.K. rider we believe. U.K. riders seem to come from BMX, motorcycles, motorsports etc, they aren’t strangers to “extreme sports” and they seem to just understand the value of the feel of steel.
We’re long time MTB, BMX, drift car and motocross riders/racers.
It seems like we’re seeing a bit of a shift towards more home manufacture – is that part of your philosophy?
We will always manufacture models in the USA.
How many bikes do you/can you make a year in the current set up? Is that how you want it, or do you hope to expand capacity to a bigger set up home or abroad?
We can produce around 100 frames a year with our current set up. We want to expand locally to meet the ever growing demands to drastically increase that number.
How are your bikes constructed?
USA, UK and Italian steel! Reynolds heat treated main tubes TIG welded with 126,000 PSI strength steel alloy filler rod. Tube thicknesses vary between each frame.
Are there any specially made pre formed parts used in the process?
CNC pivot/shock arms and dropout hangers. CNC gives us the more modern look we want.
If the whole thing is steel, how have you addressed the inherent issues of flex through the rear end and shock?
Other steel frame manufacturers do so well at certain things but must not be aggressive riders. We’re aggressive and sendy. Through prototypes and understanding of structural engineering, we’ve achieved a rear end that is compliant on hard turns but doesn’t affect shock action negatively like other designs that are just too flexible.
Thanks to Matt at Ferrum for taking the time to answer our questions – especially as he says they’ve been inundated with orders since COVID-19. It’s certainly interesting to us to see an American brand looking to the UK for inspiration, and then producing their own USA freeride interpretation of what a steel full suspension bike should be.
Check out our bike check of Jeremy Hottinger’s build here, and keep your eyes peeled on his and Ferrum’s Instagram feeds for more shots of their bikes being put through their paces.
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