it's a dangerous thing to do, in my mind, to set up a bicycle company that involves selling someone else's bicycles. my initial introduction to justin spinelli's svelte cycles was that there would be just such a machine with the name writ large in script on the downtube. but there are a heck of a lot of bicycles on the market nowadays and it's difficult enough to figure out the differences and to make the best choice for you. so a bit of lateral thinking on the part of justin spinelli has been not to go the route of having bicycles made with his name exclusively stamped, but to choose what he regards as the best of the best, in his experience, and make sure that the customer leaves the room a happy chappy.
can you give a brief overview of who justin spinelli is?
i am the owner/operator of svelte cycles. i have 15 years experience as a mechanic and raced as a professional for ten years. i also studied industrial design and caad for over two years at the art institute of fort lauderdale and the boston architectural center.
thinking of a name for a rock band is life on the edge, because if you get it wrong you may have to live with it for a long time. what brought you to name your company 'svelte cycles'?
"svelte" embodies my approach as to what I feel a bicycle should look and feel like. sleek, refined, high class.
and are you happy to live with this for a few years to come?
no other name would work. svelte is perfect.
svelte bicycles seems a bit of an odd concept to me. why should someone buy an independent fabrication bike build from svelte?
when a customer purchases an IF from me what they are really investing in is my knowledge and years of racing experience.
lousy question, but do you feel there's a real need for the service you're offering?
not everyone needs a custom bicycle tailored to their proportions and riding style but it is of my opinion that everyone who rides deserves said machine.
couldn't i just phone up indyfab and get the same deal?
no. the people at IF are fantastic, committed individuals but their main focus is to fabricate the bicycle frames and service their dealers. by calling me you have my undivided attention and also the option of purchasing a complete bicycle, not simply a frame and fork.
you've a particularly high profile career behind you as a bike racer. what made you decide on this as a post-race career?
i wanted to put myself in a position to do the work i love. riding and racing a bicycle will always be a passion but it is only part of the equation. after spending many off seasons working in bicycle retail, i grew to learn its flaws and realized that i could provide better service and a superior finished product to the high end bicycle consumer.
what made you choose indyfab?
with the advent of the Corvid, IF offers a full range of materials at my disposal for which to offer my customers the best bicycle for them. every tube is tunable. every geometry is custom.
i'm on a small island off the west coast of scotland, and i fancy a svelte bicycle. can you deal with me even though you're in nashua, new hampshire?
of course. just last week a good customer flew in from london to purchase two bicycles from me at my fit studio here in nashua, New Hampshire. he arrived, we had espressos, we talked. i fitted him. that next day production began on his framesets at the IF factory. my location is fantastic as i am only 45 minutes from Logan International Airport in Boston, MA and 20 minutes from the Manchester, New Hampshire Regional Airport.
and presumably the bikes can be shipped worldwide?
yes. far be it from me to deny my customers anything.
does the end product bear any mark that svelte is where it's from, like the 'r' head tube badge on the rapha indyfabs?
upon request, yes. i offer a "svelte issue" finish with a choice of toyko pearl white or metallic black paint, tastefully placed signature green stripes and a custom svelte headbadge as the coup de grace.
do you build the wheelsets yourself, or is there an army of technicians hiding in the closet?
only on one occasion have i ever outsourced labor and i will not make that same mistake again. i take great pride in my work and my handbuilt wheels are guaranteed to last for the life of the rim. in my opinion you will be hard-pressed to find a more meticulous and prudent wheelbuilder.
what brought you to those particular wheel components?
i owe no allegiance to brands and offer only the best. at this time i feel these are the best products for my customers.
i see a link to luxe wheelworks coming in 2010. care to say more?
luxe wheelworks is a special ops project that may or may not come to fruition. as i sell an increasing amount of complete bicycles i fear that my wheelbuilding may get lost in the storm, if you will. that would be a real shame and i thought it might be a good idea to house a wheel works division under svelte cycles for those who desire complete wheels and wheel goods alike.
is this all written in stone, or is there a likelihood of bicycle/ component change as time rolls by?
as i said before i offer only the best. should the quality of any of my brands decline or should something that i feel is of higher quality come along, that is the direction i will go in. to reiterate, my customers are not buying IFs or Edge wheelsets, they are buying Justin Spinelli. my allegiance is to my customers and my own brand.
are you trading on your racing career, or is that an irrelevance to you and to your customers?
only to a certain point. if so i would have called what you now see "spinelli cycles". my racing experience has gifted me an immense depth of knowledge in the cycling and culture forum alike but i feel "svelte cycles" as we know it embodies more than one person and set of ideals.
has your past career presented you with the necessary experience to deal with whatever comes your way at svelte?
though i am very capable at handling most every situation to date, i by no means pretend to know it all. when i don't know something, i consult a reliable source. the resources and connections in the "industry" i have are precious and i value them greatly.
how do you deal with a customer who plainly wants what you think they don't need?
i consider myself and artist and a designer not a salesperson. my clients come to me to paint them a picture. the end result is always mutually agreeable.
any plans to move into the framebuilding arena in the future?
not really no. my true value and strengths lay in the bicycle as a whole. the closest comparison one could make between myself and a framebuilder would be richard sachs. richard has been a role-model, consiglieri, and friend for many years and much of what you see now is the fruition of many heart to hearts with richard. he truly believes in my work and that alone is priceless. To surpass the master is to repay the debt.
who's idea was the coca-cola pastiche on the t-shirts?
yours truly. i do all my own designs, logos and font selections for every item with "svelte cycles" attached to it.
do you drink san pellegrino?
i see you were brought in as a 'ringer' in the recent new york edition of the rapha gentlemen's race. any plans to continue this association with rapha?
i see no reason not to. rapha and svelte share much of the same customer base and with luck our relationship will be more exploited in due time.
would you care to leave us with something that will embed svelte cycles in our collective psyche?
if you would like a bicycle that fits you the way it should fit, rides the way it should ride and looks the way it should look; enjoy svelte cycles.
posted on saturday 4 july 2009..........................................................................................................................................................................................................