Founded in 2009, Mosaic Cycles is to a bike rack what a custom-tailored garment is to a clothes hanger; functional in one sense, but meticulously handcrafted with the customer in mind from first cuts to finishing touches. Beautiful to behold, and even more thrilling to slip on. One does not simply walk into a bike shop and procure a Mosaic from the shelf, rather each bike is a process that begins as a vision and culminates in a bicycle that is just as unique as the rider.
Mosaic /mōˈzāik/ Noun: A Combination of diverse elements forming a more or less coherent whole.
Building a Strong Foundation
Mosaic founder Aaron Barcheck began his career two decades ago in 2002 when he took a titanium frame building class at the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Oregon shortly after graduating from high school and leaving St. Louis where he spent summers racing his Trek 1500 around the rolling Missouri countryside. After working for another frame builder for seven years Aaron followed his passion and founded Mosaic to fill what he saw as a void in the intersection between the art and craft of framebuilding. “It definitely had to do with me wanting to pursue manufacturing and the craft of frame building professionally and creating space for creative people such as myself to go and pursue that. I felt that the best way to do that was to start a brand,” recalls Barcheck. What started as a solo operation has grown methodically over the last twelve years as Aaron slowly brought on others who shared in his vision, “now there are nine people here who are all contributing to the Mosaic brand in some way,” he adds.
Pursuing a Passion
A rewarding, yet unforgiving metal to work with, titanium has always been Aaron’s first love when it comes to framebuilding.“It’s been a really great material for me to work with. I think it’s just the more you do it, the more you gain all the benefits and insights of what [titanium] can do for a bike. And, we use it to make all types of different bicycles at this point; from road and gravel, to touring, to mountain bikes, and from a recreational space to performance road racing. It’s very versatile, it lasts a long time, has great longevity, and it feels awesome,” professes Aaron. While Barcheck and his frame builders have dabbled in steel throughout the history of Mosaic he’s a firm believer in focusing on sustainability through playing to one’s strengths. “Having steel in our lineup kind of detracted from the focus of what we were doing….there are other people and other brands that do steel really well and we’re always happy to recommend those people.” However, there is still one space reserved amongst Mosaic’s twelve model titanium lineup that’s not going away anytime soon, “we do still have a steel road bike. There’s a special place in my heart for steel road bikes.” Some materials just fit so well into the history and lore of cycling that they will always be with us, no matter how far technology evolves.
The Custom Customer Experience
What sets Mosaic apart from other boutique builders, explains Aaron, is that they’re “a wholesaler bike shop based brand.” This means that the process of procuring a Mosaic is a custom-made-to-order experience that begins in one of their partner shops. With locations around the world, the first step in the Mosaic purchasing process involves visiting a dealer for a fitting and a detailed conversation about riding style and desired frame characteristics. Want a rear triangle that’s a little more compliant? While each model has its own ride characteristics Mosaic’s builders can custom tune your ride feel in their frame building process. Just as every rider is unique, so is the weather, topography, and terrain that will ultimately determine not only the geometry but the groupset and components that will be seamlessly integrated with the frame design. One component of building the perfect bike is designing it for the location it will be ridden and Mosaic’s knowledgeable dealers are an important part of this process. “Every build that comes through the Mosaic shop is unique,” explains Aaron. At the very least the geometry sets every frame apart, but Aaron and the artisans at Mosaic also take into account the finishing details such as the custom paint or etch work.
“I hope that we can continue to kind of be a leader in preserving our craft in the way that we see bicycles being made. We’ve always been a brand that has kept up with technology while maintaining the high-quality way titanium bikes have been manufactured over the years.” -Aaron Barcheck Founder/President/CEO of Mosaic Cycles
Even with demand high, production capacity carefully capped, and supply chain issues a constant threat, Aaron understands the need to deliver bikes within a realistic timeframe. “We’ve always been known for our turnaround time and that’s something that we work really hard to maintain and keep as low as we can. Because you want to get a custom bike you want to get now.” With a turnaround time that’s currently averaging ten to twelve weeks, they’re moving far faster than most companies these days. With the daily demands of running a business, Aaron still makes it a point to remain hands-on. “I still build frames, I finish weld even more. I paint right now because we’re down a painter” says Aaron, who strives to keep his artisans moving across departments, “it’s about the holistic approach, or like the whole piece of what it takes to build a frame, not just one part of it. Kind of like the Mosaic mentality, right? All the pieces?”
Spotting One In the Wild
While Mosaic has been on the radar of many custom titanium frame aficionados for nearly a decade, their stunning displays at NAHBS and the 2017 “Best Gravel Bike” award thrust them into the national spotlight. While specific production numbers aren’t available it’s safe to say that this talented team of fabricators is building around one bike per day. Odds are you won’t see too many on your next group ride, however, one place you’re guaranteed to see a Mosaic in person is at our Builder Round-Up open house at ENVE headquarters in Ogden, Utah on Friday, June 24th where we’ll showcase custom bikes and the builders from around the world.
“ENVE from day one has been a great partner in supporting the small business and the small builder… it’s what makes ENVE unique. It’s easy for us to get on board with a company that is driving manufacturing in the United States, pushing technology, and at the same time making a product that is easy to get behind in terms of performance and quality, usability and aesthetic.” -Aaron Barcheck