Builder Spotlight: Taylor Sizemore

What inspired you to enter the Constructor’s Design Challenge competition?

I had really good experience with the previous Oregon Manifest. I also had some new ideas, and I wanted to ride the challenge myself instead of having a friend do it. I just think it’s a good event that showcases more than a typical bike show, having your stuff in a booth. There’s the benefit of having others see the results of my work.

How far along are you in the design process?

I have it all, but just on paper/in my head. When it comes to actually building it, we’ll see what I run into. Things are prone to change at the last minute. Ideas don’t always work out like you think they will.

The design criteria are aimed at inspiring new solutions and flexibility – how is this influencing your thinking? Are you taking it back to square one?

I’ve tried to step back and use a blank sheet – go at it that way rather than from existing solutions. I don’t think everything has been maximized yet. “Freestanding under load” – that needs improvement. That one drove me crazy until I figured something out.

The competition stresses fresh and modern – how will that affect aesthetic decisions?

I think I have more in common with what the judges are looking for in aesthetics than some of the “classic” bike builders. I’ve been working on my own, outside Oregon Manifest, on paring down how I see a bike and what details are necessary. I want to throw the old standards away and look at it as a blank page.

At its heart this is a competition – how do you feel about the competitive aspect? Will it drive innovation?

I’m excited for the competition. I’m hoping it will push everyone to the next level. It may be arrogant, but I think I may have the best bike; I haven’t seen any of my ideas incorporated anywhere else. But I’ll be stoked if other builders beat that with better ideas. I’ll actually be more stoked if I finish in last place than if I win, because that will mean there were amazing ideas. I’m excited to see all the new thinking put into utility bikes.

In a way, indie builders are the R&D lab for the cycling industry for utility bikes. Where do see yourself and Oregon Manifest fitting into this innovation?

I think it’s a good thing, although I don’t know if I’ll be excited to see an identical bike in two years that’s being produced by the big names. But on the other hand, I really hope small bike builders can provide innovations that will reach the mass market, because not everyone can afford one of our bikes. I just need to make a living!

Why do you think innovation is important for the everyday citizen cyclist? How can it change why and how people ride bikes?

My bikes appeal to someone who wouldn’t necessarily consider themselves a cyclist. The ones I get the most excited about building, the customers just want to ride their bike to work – something they can call their own that’s special and has aesthetic value to them.
The innovations we’re doing right now won’t necessarily bring in new riders – but if our ideas reach the mass market, that could have a big impact.

What about this design challenge is inspiring you the most?

I’m really excited about two aspects: freestanding under load, and the bike security system. They have room to be improved on. There’s already good solutions for carrying loads and for fenders – not so much for these. I might not make the ultimate improvements, but I’m excited work on them and see what others do.

Where is your workshop? Describe it in one short phrase.

Exposed insulation in 225 square feet. Kind of chaotic.

What do like best about building custom bikes?

Knowing that I’m making something that hopefully is getting used on a daily basis. Oddly, not hearing back from my clients; to me that’s a good sign. I just build it and send it off – I know if I’m not hearing from them they’re probably having a good time with my bike.