Since the beginning of our journey with RAW Magazine back in 2013, we have come across people who, like us, stepped into the cycling world with the fixed-gear boom and, from there, have evolved with their own projects. One of those people is Rubén Durán, or what is the same, Rizzo Cycles.
During some time we came across him, back then still working as a sound engineer, in all types of fixed gear events, like criteriums and alleycats. It was the moment when hand-built steel frames were beginning to be seen in races like the Red Hook Criterium, and it was at that time that Rizzo’s interest in that world began to develop inside him.
His passion for cycling and his curious personality led him to embark one day on a long learning path to one day be able to build a bicycle with his own hands and effort. Without a doubt, it was not an easy process but he has overcome all obstacles little by little in a self-taught way and based on trial and error. Thanks to his perseverance and tenacity he has reached the point where he is today, leading his personal project.
Nothing is impossible
When talking about learning a new profession, no one can deny that it represents a big challenge, especially when it comes to something as artisan as frame building. Things like the raw materials and tools, the welding technique, or the geometries go unnoticed by most people but are part of their day-to-day.
In the case of Rubén, this learning process not only focused on acquiring all the knowledge related to the building of frames, but he also had to learn how to run his business as an entrepreneur: contact with suppliers, client management, marketing, social media, etc.
“One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome was getting access to the materials and components directly from the manufacturers instead of through distributors. It is not easy for them to take you seriously starting from scratch”
Beyond all the test models and prototypes that he created beforehand, Rizzo Cycles recognizes as his first official frame the gravel bike that he built in the summer of 2016 for his friend Mario Cranks, and he confesses that he used him as a guinea pig.
In January 2020, Rubén decided to spend all his savings and start his own workshop in Madrid, where he was born and raised. He started this adventure as motivated as one can be, but luck was not on his side as, barely two months later, the pandemic arrived. Despite the activity disruptions and the lack of supply of components and materials, Rizzo did not give up and continued fighting to carry on with his project, to continue learning and growing as a professional.
Respect and commitment to the profession
While it is true that there are framebuilders who want all their bikes to be top-of-the-line assemblies in terms of paint, components and finishes, Rubén believes that buying a custom bike is not within everyone’s reach. He considers that all his clients have the right to decide how they want their frames to be assembled based on their needs or possibilities and that this should not end up being another impediment to achieving the dream of having a custom-made bicycle.
He is a self-demanding person and has a high level of commitment to all his work. For Rizzo, each bicycle is a new opportunity to improve.
The customer/builder relationship is a very important facet of the building of a frame. On the one hand, the builder must understand the needs, requirements and characteristics of the client; advise him, explain to him what is needed, and guide him throughout the process to achieve what he is looking for. On the other hand, there is the client who, beyond having a more or less clear idea of what they want, must respect the work of the builder and enjoy the creation process since, after all, it is not something that everyone has the possibility to experience.
Rizzo in the spotlight
If something characterizes Rizzo’s professional career, it is his constant evolution and his audacity to take on new challenges. During the past few years, he has nurtured his career in the company of great figures in the sector such as his friend Mattia from Legor, or legends like Pegoretti Zullo and Masi, thanks to some of his trips to Italy in which he went in search of knowledge.
And if we talk about great challenges, we cannot forget his attendance at the Builder Round-Up in 2022. What began as a management of a small incident between Rizzo and ENVE with one of the products of the American brand, ended in an invitation to one of the most relevant framebuilders events that are organized worldwide. Without a doubt, a golden opportunity to show his potential, and Rubén did not hesitate for a single moment to make the most of it.
That is the moment when Rizzo decided to start building a full suspension downhill bike made of steel and break into the ENVE headquarters surprising most of the attendees. He had no doubt that opting for a bike of that type in a region like Utah, where mountain biking is the main cycling discipline, was a wise decision.
“When someone that has been building frames for over 30 years comes close to your bike and congratulates you for the work done, all your doubts about who you are and your purpose in life immediately go away”
On that trip, he met the people behind influential brands like Nº22, Chumba, Moots, or Mosaic, and relevant builders like Carl Strong, Curtis Inglis, and Jeremy Sycip, with whom he is now regularly in contact.
Months later, he was also invited to Chris King’s Open house 2022 in the US, another major event of reference, in which simply being there is already a sign of recognition for the invited brands. Rizzo made the most of that trip by paying a visit to the workshop of the relevant people located on the east coast, and he tried to integrate everything he saw and learned. At Chris King’s headquarters, he got the opportunity to meet the builder who used to make the Cielo frames and a total of around a thousand units, and that conversation refined his vision of framebuilding.
Look to the future
The industry is advancing very quickly, and many of the big brands are controlled by important investors who, in the end, are only looking for benefits and that requires engineers to constantly create new needs for users. However, framebuilders have a great opportunity when it comes to customers who are looking for custom bikes away from conventional ones.
Materials such as steel, titanium, or carbon with customized geometries and paint end up being the solution to a demand that is constantly growing. A great example are bikes with rim brakes, as currently there are hardly any brands that continue offering bikes with this braking system. Soon, if someone wants one, custom-made bikes will be the only option.
Focusing again on Rizzo, we have seen him building steel frames of all types, sizes, and colors in his short but intense career so far. He has worked on bikes that incorporate integrated seatpost, with full cable integration, and has also welded his first bike in titanium. We asked him about his future and he promises us that he will continue learning and creating dream bikes, innovating and challenging himself to continue growing professionally.
His goal in the short term is to internationalize the brand even more by establishing some points of sale in key countries, increase a little more his annual production, and in a few years, moving his workshop to a quiet place to live and work without the stress of big cities.
He is also focused on building the stability that will allow him to enjoy his passion with guarantees. He recognizes that he is not a person with great ambitions, nor does he have any ego to feed, so being able to continue making a living from what he likes and keep improving in his day to day is all that he wants.