Hobbies. Some people collect stamps, some play the guitar in their living room… And some build bikes.
Baden-Württemberg-based Christian Kirn is part of this highly appreciated, latter category.

As they made their way to the Côte d’Azur, I went to meet him (on the left) and his riding buddy Roland (right), to discover about their C-Cycles and learn about Christian’s love for framebuilding, career and inspiration.

Tell us the story of this beautiful grey bike!

In April 2017, a friend of mine sent me a link to the Torino-Nice Rally and I thought “OK, I need a bike for this!”

I started building the frame right away, hoping I could to celebrate my 50th birthday with it on day of the TNR start (September 4th)… But the house where my company is got stuck by lightning! So I had a lot of work, fixing the roof, all the electronic stuff…

Needless to say my plan didn’t work out!

How did you get into framebuilding?

Building frames was always in my mind since I worked in the local bike shop in the early 90`s.

At the funeral of a friend back in 2010, I decided not to wait with building frames until my retirement (as many people tend to do).
The next winter, I read an article in the German magazine Tour about the classes held by Christian Pyttel [DDR-era olympic team framebuilder, ed.]
Thanks to some internet friends, I was off to his shop class the next week.

This was the point where the craziness started: I just forgot to stop building after the class!
I am now at number 14 or 15…

Food is part of the trip

Why not enjoy local products instead of carrying the same old bananas and energy bars?

This way, your snack did not have to cross the globe, you’ll reduce your wrappings, support local agriculture AND you’ll treat yourself !

Christian’s note

“Another great side effect of not buying bars & gels : I remember almost every single dish I had during the TNR!”

What is your main inspiration as a framebuilder?

Hard to say… I like the style of the old French constructeurs a lot.
I am a frequent reader of Bicycle Quarterly… Current frame builders are J. P. Weigle and Brian Chapman. Dave Kirk is a builder whose work I love a lot.

As you can see, I’m a guy who likes the classic style!

A lugged frame is still a work of art.

J.P. Weigle
Brian Chapman
David Kirk

Christian's C-Cycles Adventurer

  • Frame : C-Cycles Adventurer
  • Dropouts: Bearframesupplies
  • Front rack: Custom made
  • Fork cages: Blackburn Outpost
  • Groupset: Sram Force 1
  • Chainring: Gabaruk
  • Headset: Chris King
  • Bottom Bracket: Chris King
  • Saddle: Selle Anatomica X2
  • Seatpost: PMP Titanium
  • Handlebars: Salsa Cowchipper
  • Brakes: TRP Hy/Rd 160-140
  • Tyres: Compass Switchback Hill
  • Rims: Pacenti
  • Rear hub: DT Swiss 350
  • Front hub: Shutter Precision PD8-X
  • Lights: Supernova E3

Do you have a day job, how often do you work on bikes?

My day job is in IT. I’m running my own business.
I usually build after work and on weekends, as a hobby.

I mainly build in autum & winter ; in summer I try to ride my bikes with my friends.

I am my best customer!

Some bikes are for my friends, but most of my bikes are meant to be between my own legs.

Have you ever considered building frames for a living?
I learned that making a living with building frames is really hard.
On one hand, the material (tubes, lugs, brazing rods etc…) and foreign costs (powder coating, shipping) are fixed.
On the other hand, I put at least 70 or 80 hours into every frame – which is insane.
My gravel bike with all the details, rack etc. saw at least 100 hours.
It would not be cost-effective.

So I decided to build frames as a hobby.

I don’t have to count every hour and can build all the nice details I like.

#2, a.k.a. Roland's Crosser

This bike is the second frame Christian made.
Note the original, minimal fork racks!

  • Frame : C-Cycles Crosser
  • Front racks: Custom made
  • Fork cages: Blackburn Outpost
  • Groupset: Sram Rival GXP
  • Chainring: Specialités TA Zephyr
  • Headset: Chris King
  • Saddle: Ergon
  • Brakes: Avid Shorty Ultimate
  • Tyres: WTB Riddler
  • Rear hub: White Industries MI5

Where did you install your workshop?

The workshop is in the basement of my mother’s house, in the boiler room!

It is really small, it can only be reached via stairs which limits the size of machines in the shop significantly.
But that’s fine, I can concentrate on building frames and not buying and maintaining machines.

What tubing do you usually use?

I have no preference. I usually use Columbus, Tange and Reynolds.
On this latest bike, top and down tubes are Tange Prestige Japan, the 0.4mm ones. Seat tube is Colombus Life and rear triangle is Colombus Zona. I mix tubes according to my needs.

I also build all my forks. This one was a special project because I had to order a special tube bender for these blades -Reynolds 853- which are quite heavy and strong, thus not so easy to bend!

So how does this latest Adventurer ride?

It handles really great, I am very happy with the built!
I was a bit uncertain about the fork and the braking, I didn’t know how this would work out because it is pretty unusual, I don’t see many low-trail raked disc forks…

But it handles great, I think it will see some more offroad and gravel!

Where will your bike take you next?

I’ve planned a trip in May in France. Starting point will be l’Ardèche, crossing the Cévennes towards the Pyrenées. At least this is the plan!
And some short Rough Stuff trips to the Alps inspired by “Rough stuff cycling in the Alps” by Max Leonard. A must.

Follow C-Cycles on Flickr and Instagram and his friend Roland on Instagram