Q&A

A quick chat with owner Nick Jensen

How long have you been building frames?

In 2007 I attended a class in Niles, Michigan, run by Doug Fattic. In the class I learned to silver braze a classic lugged touring frame and fork. I took that bike on a number of 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.

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 really want to get the fit just right. Tourists and randonneurs 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 really rewarding.

But these days I spend most of my riding time off road. Mountain 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 the mountain bike. The hardtail I’m building these days is really a blast to ride. It’s fun to jump. It’s playful. And it handles rocky and loose terrain really well.

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

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.