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Curtlo Cycles: A product of feedback


Taken from April 1995 issue of Bicycle Guide, pages 106-107.

By Jamie Paolinetti

I saw my first Curtlo in 1990. Doug Curtis, the owner of Curtlo Cycles and the man behind the torch, had sponsored a local team of Cat. 2 riders the previous year in L.A. and, though it was a new year, all the racers were still riding their Curtlos. They were all good local riders buy nobody of real national caliber, and the actual monetary benefits of the sponsorship for Doug were minimal. However, Doug, with his commitment to and love for the sport of bike racing, felt the local exposure and feedback from the riders was valuable enough to warrant the sponsorship, and so he kept the product flowing for the lucky riders.

It turns out team sponsorship has been part of Doug's philosophy all along. He has sponsored numerous teams in the past and plants to sponsor three teams for the upcoming 1995 season. One of the teams he sponsored in the past is the now-defunct powerhouse Kahlua women's team. You may have caught team leader Inga Thompson on TV riding her custom Curtlo in the 1992 Olympics. Like many frame builders, Doug formulated his current beliefs based largely on the feedback he has received over the years from quality riders like Inga.

Technically, Curtlo Cycles came into being around 18 years ago, when Doug was still in college. Although no official company existed back then, Doub built his first bike as a solution to the problems that he and his riding partner - who were both big guys - were having with the quality and fit of the bikes they were forced to choose from. Back then, riding was a priority for Doug. And after college, he put in as many as 15,000 miles a year, including four cross-country journeys and a four-month trip through Europe. Doug certainly has the miles in his legs to offer some expert advice as to what might work when it comes to designing and building bikes.

Doug has made about 2000 bikes in his career. He prefers to use steel for his road bikes, saying, "it is relatively inexpensive, easy to work with, offers a wide variety of shapes, sizes and wall thicknesses to choose from, makes for maximum flexibility in designing frames and gives a final result that offers an unmatched comfort factor while riding."

If you want a Curtlo machine, Doug will most likely suggest some combination of True Temper oversize tubing, but there's no stock geometry on a Curtlo. Whenever possible, Doug will meet with the rider and even look at his position on his existing bike to come up with the best possible specs for that rider's needs. As Doug told me, "What I've found is very few people know what they want. You really have to ask a lot of questions to nail people down on what changes to make, so that they will be happier with the bike they are going to get than the one they're already riding."

Look for either an SR/Sakae Prism or a Kinesis fork to come standard, depending on what's most available at the time. Retail for a custom Curtlo remains $1140, no matter which fork you get (price also includes a custom stem).

The 53cm (center to top) frameset pictured weighed in at 4 pounds 14 ounces and is a perfect example of a custom Curtlo. This one is immaculately fillet brazed (the only way Doug builds his road bikes) and is made up of a mix of True Temper tubes: Ox-3 heat treated chrome-moly, RC-2 and OX-RCS tubing. The angles are nothing extreme - paralle 73-degree head and seat, which is a good general all-purpose road bike setup. But remember, every bike is built to suit its owner.

Always concerned with strength, Doug believes a frame should last more than just one season. The oversize seat and down tubes on our Curtlo are pinched at the bottom bracket to provide a wider, stiffer seam in that critical area. There is a gusset at the top of the seat tube and reinforcement rings at the top and bottom of the head tube. These are all examples of the little extras Doug includes to give his bikes a longer life.

As I've already mentioned, you can get a Curtlo in almost any size or shape imaginable, provided you can convince Doug it will work for you. Doug's in-house painter applies the brushes to every Curtlo and a wide variety of solid colors are available. If you want custom paint, plan on spending between $65 and $100 extra. Curtlo Cycles also offers mountain bikes, cyclo-cross bikes, tandems and track bikes. For more information on how to get one of your own, contact Curtlo Cycles at P.O. Box 222016, Santa Clarita, CA 91322; (805) 251-9582.