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Readville-based group builds bicycle frames to your exacting specifications

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  February 23, 2011 03:13 PM

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Jamie Medeiros.jpg

(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)


Jamie Medeiros, Firefly co-founder and director of research and development, grinds away at a classic 1969 Bridgeport vertical milling machine.

Fixed-gear bikes are so 2008. Why not step up to the top-of-the-line? Imagine a bicycle that’s such a perfect fit, it was actually made-to-measure, like a fine bespoke suit.

Hyde Park residents are now ideally situated to make that leap. Last week, local entrepreneurs Tyler Evans and Jamie Medeiros launched Firefly Bicycles, a new enterprise that offers custom bike frames for both recreational and competitive use.

The founders say a custom bicycle provides a better fit for its intended rider than a standard bike and is ideal for experienced cyclists who know just how they want the bike to handle and how they want to experience the terrain.

“Most people can fit on a normal-sized bike and it can be comfortable, but typically you’ll have to make some sort of adjustments to the parts that are on it or the way the bike is set up to make it fit just right,” said Kevin Wolfson, 24, lead frame designer for the startup. “With a custom bike, you can get that same perfect fit but without any sacrifices to the way it looks or the parts that you’re using or the way it handles.”

For serious cyclists, there’s also an intangible appeal to talking with the makers and getting to participating in the process of the bike’s construction, Wolfson said. One of Firefly’s goals is to create relationships with their customers and give them a special experience that enhances their enjoyment and understanding of their bikes.

Local customers can visit their 2,000-square-foot workshop just outside Wolcott Square to talk one-on-one about their needs and specifications, but those in other states and even other countries can have their own Firefly bike designed in one of two ways. They can visit an approved dealer — the company is in talks with dealers in three US states, Europe and Asia — or they can communicate their needs through phone, email and Skype.

A custom frame set from Firefly will cost just under $4,000, while a complete bike with wheels and optional extras could run anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000. But despite prices that would be daunting to casual riders, Firefly’s founders say orders are already coming in from those who know them from their earlier work for custom bike-makers Independent Fabrication.

All alumni of that Somerville-based shop, Firefly’s founders decided to strike out on their own when Independent Fabricators announced a move to New Hampshire planned for this coming May. “That was the catalyst for making it happen now, but it’s always been our dream,” said Evans, 36, who serves as creative director. “The timing just sort of worked out perfectly.”

Evans said it made sense to launch the new venture during the winter so they’re prepared for the rebirth of interest in biking and other outdoor activities that accompanies each spring. And, though they’re risking their own savings in the venture, he and Medeiros are confident they can establish a niche. “I’d say we’re about as prepared as we could possibly be, in terms of all our connections and our know-how,” Evans said.

They’re happy, too, to have the freedom that comes with being self-financed. “That’s one of our goals: not to have investors, not to be in debt,” said Medeiros, 42, who heads research and development at Firefly. “To grow quickly enough to keep everybody happy and grow slowly enough not to have to get investors into it.”

Though Evans and Medeiros have to import some of their more exotic materials from faraway lands, they buy from vendors in Massachusetts whenever it’s an option. That policy, they said, goes hand-in-hand with their goal of providing the best product and most satisfying cycling experience possible.

“A lot of the really high-quality things are made locally,” Evans said. “At our level, you really have to have the highest-quality parts.”

They believe quality parts and custom craftsmanship can help promote the goals of their Readville neighbor, Mayor Thomas M. Menino, to encourage urban bicycling and establish Boston as a leader in accommodating the needs and ensuring the safety of cyclists.

“One of our goals is to be Boston’s frame builder,” Evans said. “We want to put Boston on the map in terms of being a city that supports cycling in all different aspects.”

Firefly Bicycles plans an open house for mid-March. For more information, visit http://fireflybicycles.com/.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremycfox@gmail.com.

Firefly Bicycles.jpg

(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)


Founders Jamie Medeiros (left) and Tyler Evans at work in Firefly Bicycles’ workshop just outside Wolcott Square.

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