Haley Cycles: Custom Titanium Made Simple
Words: William Tracy; Images: Haley Cycles and James Rogers | From issue 106
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Here’s a scene that may be all too familiar. You want a custom frame and you’ve found a builder you like. You see a price within your budget on the builder’s website, then start adding in the features you want. Custom geometry? That’s an upcharge. Extra gear mounts? Upcharge. Fender mounts? Upcharge. Paint beyond a single, limited color choice? Yep, definite upcharge. Suddenly, you’ve shot miles beyond the base price.
Ming Tan, whose career has revolved around bikes, from working in a shop as a teen to decades of experience with brands like LOOK and Ritchey Design, wanted to change this frustrating experience. So, in 2019 he launched Haley Cycles with a simple objective: one price gets you a titanium frame with custom geometry and all the gear and accessory mounts you desire, along with surprisingly complex paint and finishes. “We want to allow customers to build custom without a cumbersome process,” says Tan.
To keep things simple, Haley has just two pricing options. For $4,499 you get a road, all-road, gravel or hardtail frame made with an oversize straight-gauge titanium tubeset, along with a corresponding ENVE fork. An extra $500 upgrades the frame to a butted, tapered and shaped tubeset. Either way, the frame includes a T47 bottom bracket, internal cable routing and the choice of straight or curved seatstays, all on a custom frame. And Haley will also help you source the exact parts you want without limiting you to standard build kits.
But no frame, no matter how expertly built, is complete without a proper finish. Each frame comes with the choice of a brushed, anodized or painted finish. And it’s not just a basic single-color paint job that’s included. Customers have been getting creative with the designs, requesting multiple-color fades, frames in the likeness of the 7-Eleven and Panasonic team bikes, and even one themed after David Bowie’s album “Aladdin Sane.” Whether a customer has a general idea or a fully formed concept, Haley works with a designer to bring the vision to life—and it’s all included in the one price. “You can really make it yours,” says Tan.
Making sure each customer gets exactly the right bike often requires going through up to five different geometry iterations to get it dialed. And Tan is available every step of the way to talk through the process and technical geometry questions. “It’s just easy, very straightforward,” says one customer, James Rogers, who ordered the David Bowie bike (below), about the ordering process. “Ming’s responsiveness is terrific.”
For his bike, Rogers had a very specific all-road design in mind that, with the swap of some wheels, could replace many bikes from his overflowing stable—something of a shapeshifting bike, like Bowie himself. He brought in a very clear idea, down to the geometry, which Haley was able to help him refine with minor tweaks to get the final product just right.
Though Haley Cycles is relatively new, the in-house expertise to guide customers to the right geometry, then turn that bike into reality, is all there. In addition to Tan’s decades in the bike industry, the lead engineer and lead welder at Janus Cycle Group (owner of Dean Titanium and Merlin that’s building frames for Haley) collectively have more than 60 years of experience working with titanium; that’s a fair bit more than other brands can claim. And Haley seeks out top-quality finishers, sending the frames around the country to the most skilled people in their fields.
Building bikes this all-inclusive way is certainly more work than turning out a steady stream of stock-geometry frames. But for Haley, this way just makes sense. “You’re investing in something handmade and titanium,” says Tan. “It’s expensive, but you’re going to get exactly what you want.”