The Pinkbike Podcast: Episode 145 - Ministry Cycles on Alternative Manufacturing, Gluing Frames, & Starting a Business

Sep 22, 2022
by Mike Levy  
Pinkbike Podcast
Art by Taj Mihelich


There's a pretty good chance that your next bike will be made of either welded aluminum or molded carbon fiber, but there's going to be a time, not too far down the road, when it might be grown via additive manufacturing or, in the case of Ministry Cycles, machined from a block of 7075-T6 aluminum in a reductive process. Similar to what Pole is doing, the Psalm 150 frame is machined in two halves before being bonded together with aerospace-grade glue, with the result being a stunning dual-link bike that could be a look into the future of manufacturing.

Ministry Cycles Psalm 150

Ministry Cycles Psalm 150

I sat down with industry veteran and founder of Ministry Cycles, Chris Currie, to talk about how the Psalm 150 came to life, public development and lifecycle, design flexibility, and so much more. Chris also started Speedgoat, one of the earliest online retailers back in the 1990s, and has spent more than a decade in the marketing trenches at Stans, giving him a unique perspective on the cycling industry and the future.





THE PINKBIKE PODCAST // EPISODE 145 - MINISTRY CYCLES ON ALTERNATIVE MANUFACTURING, GLUING FRAMES, & STARTING A BUSINESS
September 22nd, 2022

Aluminum, glue, and online sales.


Featuring a rotating cast of the editorial team and other guests, the Pinkbike podcast is a weekly update on all the latest stories from around the world of mountain biking, as well as some frank discussion about tech, racing, and everything in between.


Subscribe to the podcast via your preferred service (Apple, Spotify, RSS, LibSyn, etc.), or visit the Pinkbike Podcast tag page for the complete list of episodes.


71 Comments

  • 7 0
 I remember Speedgoat! I also remember Chris's posts from Interbike--they were essentially the best info on new bike stuff each year with some fun insights. A precursor to Pinkbike, if you will.
  • 20 0
 Thanks very much @ejj but now I'm thinking, damn, maybe I could've been Pinkbike if I'd kept at it. D'oh! Hey Mike Levy, when you asked me what mistakes I'd made in life and opportunies I'd missed? I'd like to change my answer.
  • 4 0
 Jebnus H - that's insanely beautiful, wow. Listened to the cast offline & wanted to get a look...by the gods, it looks amazing. I don't recall hearing anything about weight / poss prices and if its just frame or full builds...prob missed that part though (?)
  • 3 0
 Thanks! We need to drop some weight from the sample. It's a little over 36lbs with pedals and a coil and no real fancy ultralight stuff. It's unfortunately going to be expensive because of the manufacturing costs, but I hope to have pricing figured out as we move into sample #2 soon. Complete bikes will all be custom built to order if we can reach that milestone (and supply chain restocks chains Smile ).
  • 2 0
 @SpeedgoatDesigns: Joined the mailing list so I'll be on the lookout.
  • 4 0
 Chris mentioned he was a Ministry fan (was too back in the day until Jorgensen looked too much like a Pirates of the Caribbean clown act) so I'm curious about the Bible bike name ref. Just from discography / song titles something like Effigy, Revenge, Twitch, Possession (plenty of others) are more relevant (just to be difficult and cry about spilt milk). I'm gonna propose renaming it - The Excommunicated. Gotta say though, for someone repelled by any & all religions, this bike looks heavenly and perhaps it shreds like hell.
  • 4 0
 Yeah, Al's taken that look a bit far. In fairness, though, Rob Zombie sort of took his original look, so Al had to take it the next level. Thanks for the kind words about the bike. Weight's too high on this first prototype--little over 36lbs with pedals and a coil shock--but working on getting that down some and figuring out pricing now.
  • 2 0
 @SpeedgoatDesigns: I saw this bike online the day and all of a sudden, I found myself in love with the world
So there was only one thing that I could do
Was ding a ding dang my dang a long ling long

Can’t wait to see more
  • 1 0
 @SpeedgoatDesigns: True that about Rob Zombie, only he’s far less talented! 36 pounds… That’s a pound and a half lighter than my Capra with a coil and two inserts. I’ll take it
  • 2 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: We're getting there, weight-wise, but overbuilt the hell out of this first sample, so probably do have a little room to drop some weight.
  • 1 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: similar here, 36lbs is my GG Smash with coil, GX AXS, and Cushcore rear with heavy duty tires front and back, but no water on board. Add my water bottles and it's just over 37lbs
  • 1 0
 @chacou: Thanks for the info! I think we're close, but can drop about 400g. Working on it!
  • 1 0
 @chacou: I used to be bummed about this weight but honestly, I've just adapted to it and for park, it smashes... I'm good with it. Anything under 32 seems too twitchy to me now honestly, anywhere.
  • 1 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: Super helpful to know--thanks for the feedback! Always nice to drop a little so there's room to run inserts or other heavier stuff, but I'm definitely not going to chase light weight as a major priority.
  • 2 0
 @SpeedgoatDesigns: Ok, Ill settle for no less than 34! Jk of course: looking forward to what ya come up with. This design just looks unreal.
  • 2 0
 @SpeedgoatDesigns Hey Chris, I was really excited to hear how well you've done for yourself since the Speedgoat days.
I first discovered Speedgoat as an online customer when I was in college at Mich in the late 90's/early 00's. Back then, I worked at a camp for a few summers in Ligonier and was excited to discover that your were right up the road on Rt 30. You guys rocked back then and even hooked up the camp with a bunch of Giants so we could get all those kids indoctrinated into the MTB scene early!
Keep up the good work and I'm looking forward to seeing more Ministry Cycles stuff in the future.
  • 1 0
 Awesome, thanks so much! I remember working on that fleet of Giants at the camp. So great that you guys were getting kids on mountain bikes! Good times! Smile
  • 3 0
 Wasn’t super geeked for this and then you said ‘Speedgoat’. Bought some stuff back from them in the day. Glad to hear he’s still around.
  • 3 0
 Thanks! Still around, despite getting better and better at crashing worse and worse Smile
  • 4 0
 I just love hearing that yinzer accent come out. Reminds me of home, on the other side of the mountain to Speedgoat
  • 6 0
 You better red up your room if you want to go ride your bike dahntahn. There's pop bottles, Sheetz wrappers, gumbands n'at all over the place. Get the sweeper and mop up that slippy spot from all the mud on your tennis shoes that you wore in the crick. There's a lot of work that needs done!
  • 4 0
 Definitely spent some time playing in the crick! Smile
  • 1 0
 This sounds interesting, hopefully will have some time later today to listen. I bought a lot of stuff from Speedgoat but what I remember most was a CNC crown/head tube assembly for a Rockshox Judy, that had to have been 1996. No idea if it was made in house though.
  • 4 0
 Wow, yeah, that was back when we thought everybody needed to replace stanchion tubes as often as we did riding the PA rock gardens. Smile I can't remember the company that originally made them, but I they stopped, and somehow I think we convinced the distributor to keep a factory making them for us. I built so many forks with those Englund air cartridges that my hands were permanently coated in Slick Honey. Could barely hold a coffee cup without it slipping. Good times. Smile
  • 1 0
 Man, what an awesome guy!
@SpeedgoatDesigns I love hearing about your perspective and take on design agility, and designing a model for the future. If money was out of the picture, and you were able to additive manufacture frames, what would be different about your frames vs. CNC? Obviously you could easily modify each frame independently, I am curious if there are design approaches or features you could integrate if 3D printed frames were a realistic possibility now? AI Driven Design? Thanks! Keep doing what youre doing!
  • 1 0
 Yep, I think "on-demand custom" will eventually be the future, and custom sizing and adjustments would open up a world of advantages. But there would be plenty of design changes, too. Integrated cable ports and a few areas that could use internal latticing to drop some weight come to mind pretty quick. Thanks for the support!
  • 1 0
 @SpeedgoatDesigns Loved hearing you talk about the early days of e-commerce. I currently operate multiple e-comms in the beauty space. Would love to migrate to the bike world if you ever need an extra band Wink .

Very interesting talk! And the new bike looks fantastic + it comes with a great story.
  • 1 0
 Hand**
  • 1 0
 Thanks! All the challenges are on the production side right now, but once that works out they'll all move to the e-comm side, so feel free to stay in touch! Smile
  • 1 0
 @SpeedgoatDesigns Thanks for the podcast. Do you think that in the future, you could sell the rights to machine the frame were ever? You say that you can move the file were ever you want and start producing the bike, but could you not also just sell the file to the user, who goes to their preferred cutter/printer etc and form their personal bike? It would give a completely new meaning to your local bike shop.
Just a thought.
  • 2 0
 This is a super interesting question, thanks! On the absolute cutting edge, additive is already there with situations like divisions of the (I think Australian) military deploying metal 3D printers in-field at multiple locations to create on-demand parts as needed. For something like the CNC frame, there's still a big advantage to building specific relationships with factories you can get to know. Relationships are still and will always be important for reliable delivery times, and all those details . . . but yes, ultimately the dream would be walking into your local shop, talking about what you need and getting some measurements, and coming back in a few days to pick up a frame completely unique to you. That would be pretty cool.
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy, another great podcast - love these insights. Do remember to do the ones with the Pinkbike regulars where you get things wrong and upset people! Question for the regular pod, to whoever is on, prompted by Pinkbike Racing...
If for some reason you magically had the luxury of being able to choose, which race team would you want to be on and why?
Might be Commencal Muc-Off to ride with Aumery.
Or the Syndicate to learn from the GOAT.
Or Frameworks to be a part of the project.
Or Atherton, for Brian that one, to talk additive manufacturing.
Or knowing you all, Pivot, because Lada.
Taking Pinkbike Racing off the table, to make it fair.
  • 3 3
 I wonder how much energy compared to traditional methods is needed. Flexibility is one thing and is great for prototypes, but serial production is something different. The same with Atherton bikes, each lug is essentially welded milion times with a powerful laser.
  • 3 0
 Most roof skins and various other components on car bodies are glued together and some structural adhesives provide stronger bonds than welding. Look at 08115 3M adhesive.
  • 2 1
 Sintering (as I suppose they use SLS) isn't the same as welding. The grains fuse, they don't melt and then solidify together. Casting however (or basically how all aluminium tubes start out before being extruded, before being rolled, being made into a solid bar from all those elements) could be considered a way of welding too.

But yeah, there is a lot of energy going in there either way. But how it evens out in the end, I don't know. There may actually be less logistics involved if you just start straight from the solid block whereas an extruded tube may pass through different parties. First thought indeed is that turning so much solid metal into swarf takes a huge amount of energy. But I honestly don't know how it works out if you look at the full production cycle.
  • 3 0
 It’s almost like it always takes something to make something! There’s no free rides.
  • 2 0
 Very interesting discussion. I think the podcasts are my favorite thing on Pinkbike. Bike looks pretty slick, will be interested to see what happens with it!
  • 1 0
 Listening now... Good stuff! Chris and Beth were two of my favorite customers back in my Marzocchi years... It's been cool to follow his bike designs over the years..Hope you see success with Ministry..
  • 1 0
 Thank you!
  • 1 0
 I'd love to hear from a development race team. Bear Development would be cool. I know there a youth xc devo team. Just not NICA. There more like the gmbn get people into mtbing
  • 1 0
 Hey look, a guy making a weird machined 7075 aluminum bike in glued together halves that knows how to talk to people and welcomes feedback about his product. What a novel idea!
  • 3 0
 Missed it! Could have called it the Psalm 69 and hit it on all fronts.
  • 3 0
 Sooo @mikelevy, review tomorrow right?
  • 3 0
 This mans enthusiasm is infectious....
  • 3 0
 Ministry Cycles 120mm 29er the Levite
  • 1 0
 Might have to make it just because that name is so amazing!
  • 1 0
 Great episode, I love these long chats about the old days and Chris is very engaging and open.
Can we have more of this kind of thing?
  • 2 0
 Aerospace grade glue, awesome. Do they use it in f1 too.
  • 2 0
 Most likely yes.
  • 3 0
 My experience is that it is mighty strong, but it stinks when you work with it. F1 car racing is never a selling point to me however. From what I understand, lots of stuff breaks down even when they don't collide. Aircraft themselves are better if you're after some durability.
  • 4 0
 @vinay: Stuff tends to break when you're sending 1,000 HP through a system designed to be as light as possible.
  • 1 0
 @nskerb: The "possible" in there is a choice. A compromise where aside from low weight they also balance a certain amount of reliability, strength, rider safety, stiffness etc. This is where they end up and this is what they accept. That's all fine. My point is, whatever they're using there doesn't draw me as something that would reliably carry me to the trailhead.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: It sounds like you take getting to a trailhead A LOT more seriously then I do. Then again I don't ride with tools, a plug, spare tube, or a cell phone lol.
  • 1 0
 @nskerb: Yeah, getting to the trailhead is pretty essential. Getting there with the same reliability as a F1 car has to finish a race doesn't cut it for me. That said, I usually ride my bike to the trails Wink . That said, I sheared off part of my freehub body (between third and fourth sprocket) when on the trail so I only had the biggest sprockets left to nurse my bike back home. I did carry some tools with me, but no spare freehub body indeed Wink .
  • 2 0
 @vinay: "Anyone can build a bridge, but only an engineer can build a bridge that barely stands"

F1 cars are the sketchiest bridges that exist.
  • 1 0
 I think I saw someone riding this in Bromont recently? Thought it was some sort of Pole but way cooler looking!
  • 1 0
 I remember ordering from Speedgoat! I wonder if I can search my old hotmail account and see what it was.
  • 1 0
 I found it. My last order on Speedgoat was in 2008 for a Crankbrothers Joplin dropper post (lever style under the seat). The clamp broke and gouged really close to you know where on my leg. It was total crap!
  • 8 0
 @map-guy: Thanks for the support back then! Might be a little outside the return window, but if I can get Ministry Cycles off the ground, I at least owe you a discount on something. Smile
  • 3 0
 @SpeedgoatDesigns: Haha absolutely thanks! really enjoyed this podcast and the Psalm 150 seriously looks amazing. I always sleep on Jamis but the portal and hardline look wicked too.
  • 2 0
 Partnership with 5dev in 3… 2… 1…
  • 1 0
 Didn't Empire also create frames from aluminium by casting a while ago? www.empire-cycles.com
  • 2 0
 I'm holding out for your 100mm xc race bike.
  • 2 0
 Righteous. I want one.
  • 4 5
 I have a podcast guest idea. Please get Peter Verdone on! That guy has some serious insight on mountain bike design.
  • 2 0
 Would also love to hear one with Keith from Banshee, his design is awesome!
  • 1 2
 Dang. Cool bike. Although looks heavy
  • 6 0
 Definitely need to drop some weight off this first prototype, and working on it. Currently a little over 36lbs with pedals and a coil shock (and don't really have much light stuff on there). Overbuilt, but we're working on the revisions now.
  • 1 0
 @SpeedgoatDesigns: lighter than my spire though so not too bad.
  • 1 0
 @zanda23: Great to hear and thanks for the feedback! Might be able to get some grams off there, but definitely not going to chase weight as a big priority. The acceleration feels great, and even chunky this thing is actually outclimbing my lighter 130mm carbon bike, sometimes by a surprising amount. Thanks again!





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