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About Nick Jensen

Why buy a bike from Manzanita?

I have years of experience bicycle touring, bikepacking, and taking my bikes on adventures. Your bike must fit well when you’re in the saddle all day, multiple days in a row. I also understand how luggage affects a bike’s personality. I will make sure your loaded bicycle handles predictably. When you’re confident and comfortable on your bike, you can relax your body. This conserves energy, prevents accidents, and makes the bike a joy to ride.

Friends posing with their bikepacking bikes width=
Bikepacking in Joshua Tree National Park width=
Touring the Blue Ridge Parkway width=
Touring in Norway width=
Getting eaten by a troll in Norway width=

How long have you been building frames?

In 2007 I attended a class in Niles, Michigan, run by Doug Fattic. In that class, I made a classic touring frame and fork. I took that bike on many tours, including a roll around Iceland in 2008. Now my brother-in-law uses it for commuting and day rides. It’s great to see the bike still doing its job.

Then in 2014, I attended Dave Bohm’s framebuilding class in Tuscon, AZ, to focus on learning how to fillet braze. Fillet brazing is a lot of work. Some would say even tedious. But I love to look at a freshly filed fillet, the smooth, organic arc that connects the tubes. It’s what keeps me from switching to TIG welding.

What’s your favorite type of frame to build?

My interest in framebuilding started with making touring bikes. They’re practical and versatile. They can also be complicated. You have to account for fenders, wide tires, racks, dynamo lighting, and you want to get the fit just right. Tourists and bikepackers spend long days in the saddle, and they rely on their bikes to get them to their destination without any trouble. I love the challenge of incorporating these ideas into a complete bicycle. It’s rewarding.

But these days, I spend most of my riding time off-road. Mountain and gravel bike geometry and components have evolved so much in the past few years. As someone who loves to geek out on frame geometry, there’s no better playground right now than off-road machines. The hardtail and gravel bikes I’m building these days are a blast to ride. And with the right tweaks, these bikes can make excellent bikepacking rigs.

So I guess it’s safe to say that I don’t have a favorite. I’m currently building all-road, gravel, and hardtail frames because those are the bikes I love to ride.

Why call your company Manzanita?

Manzanita is the common name for the plant Arctostaphylos. It grows all over the western United States. To me, the Manzanita is a symbol of the West. It thrives in harsh conditions. But it also has a certain grace to it. It’s rugged and beautiful. I think those are two good adjectives to describe the best bikes.