Rich Gangl is a handmade bicycle builder from Golden, Colorado. An avid racer turned artisan, Rich has been building frames for World, National and State championships since 1978. Learn more about this craftsman in this month’s #6Questions.
1. How did you get your start in the cycling industry?
Well during the late 1970’s, I was racing full time as a Cat. 1 rider on the Hammer-Life Force Foods Team out of Boulder, Colorado. As the seasons came and went, my racing bike showed the signs of wear and tear of heavy use. During the offseason in 1977, I looked into the possibility of getting my frame re-painted and adding a few braze-ons. I couldn’t find anyone locally so I thought I’ll just do it myself. I already had a background in metal fabrication and paint work and always worked on my own bikes. So I prepped the frame, added the various braze-ons went to the local auto paint supply store and bought all of the needed materials to do the job. All the work was done out of my parents double car garage. By the start of the new 1978 racing season, I had the refurbished bike ready to go. At the races, other racers commented on how nice my new bike looked. I told them it was the frame I had always raced on and that I had done all of the restoration work. By the end of that racing season I had 10-12 frames from other racers to repaint! As time went by, I would get frames that had various types of crash damage and I found myself doing major tube replacement and frame alignment. During all of this I learned all of the in and outs of frame construction. I saw all kinds of things during this period of time and always thought in the back of my mind, “I would have done this differently and much better”. So in 1979 Chris and Jack VanGent that owned the Big Wheel LTD pro bike shop in Denver gave me a full Columbus tubeset that Chris had just brought back from one of his many trips to Italy. They simply said, “You’re ready, so just make yourself a frame”. I won the next five races on that new frame and had six orders for the upcoming winter season. I never looked back from that day forward….
2. Who inspired you?
The builder who inspired me the most was Mario Confente. I was introduced to him in 1978 by my first sponsor Monte Hughes ( Monte Of Italy team, Aspen Colorado) and my teammate Jasjit Grewal (Father of Alexi Grewal 1984 Olympic gold medal champion), while competing at various Olympic development races in California. I was going to have one of Mario’s frames custom made for me but sadly he passed away the following year. But that’s another story by itself.
3. What are best known for and what achievements are you proud of?
I think I’m best known for my attention to detail, impeccable frame alignment and beautiful paintwork. Also for my restoration of all of the classic bicycles I have done. As far as achievements go, probably my racing results over the years with World and National titles won on my bikes and seeing riders I’ve coached reach their goals in our most beautiful sport.
4. What about the future of the cycling industry excites you the most?
I think the future is bright for cycling. At the races, I see coaches out there with groups of very young future racers learning all aspects of the sport. It is fun for me to see their enthusiasm. On the recreational side all of the organized group rides have huge numbers of riders participating. Another part of excitement are the Vintage
Classic Eroica type rides that only vintage steel bicycles can participate in. I have a special place in my heart for the older bikes I grew up with and have a role in keeping them out on the road forever. As far as the cycling industry goes, I think the future is on the right track. Modern day riders are very lucky to enjoy all of the new things that are out there now. I always tell my customers that the most efficient machine ever devised by man was the bicycle!
5. What are you riding now and what is your favorite bike?
I just finished my newest frame for me personally. It is a bike designed for use with our mountainous terrain we have here in Colorado. It is basically a hydro formed aluminum main triangle with a bonded carbon rear end and fork. Fully assembled it weighs in at 13.6 lbs. and rides much better than a full carbon bike. My favorite bike that I have in my collection has to be my Confente Tribute bike I built three years ago. This bicycle has a very special place in my heart because of my history with Mario.
6. What are you up to when you’re not working or riding?
That’s a hard one for me. My whole life has been involved with every aspect of bicycles since childhood. I like to build and play guitars, and take part in some of the shooting sports when I can find the time.
View Rich’s latest creations at ganglcustomcycles.com