Sam Whittingham has been creating custom rides for over 10 years. He comes from a solid background of bicycle racing both on and off-road, and continues to hold several world records for speed on human-powered machines. Check out wikipedia
for more info on his record-breaking pedaling abilities.
The company name Naked came about basically as an analogy of simplicity and straightforward design. “When I started building [bikes]”, Sam says, “there was a trend in the industry to really over-complicate things. I wanted to return to basics. And also the name catches your attention.” For the first few years the company was called Forte, due to following the advice of some
conservative friends, but after a while Sam realized that his original idea of Naked was much more suitable to his design philosophy and his company’s spirit.
After starting out in Victoria, and a brief stint on Gabriola Island, Naked bikes settled on Quadra Island. In this beautiful setting in the Discovery Island area of British Columbia, Whittingham and his crew build award-winning hardtail and full-suspension bikes. Each frame is unique and custom tailored to the rider’s specs. Steel, aluminum, or titanium, Naked does it. There are no “stock models”, but basic frame building starts at around $1400 CDN and will of course depend on frame material choices, design, finish, and other options. Naked bikes don’t just do frames, though - they will build you an entire bike with the exact components you want. Already have some of the components you need? No problem. With these guys, it’s all about building a bike to suit the rider.
Sam is an approachable, open, and friendly guy who was happy to show us around his shop and talk bikes and frame-building techniques. There were hardly any examples of finished bikes though, because as soon as they’re done, they’re out the door! There was a svelte roadie frame that had just been welded up, and his newest assistant Garnet had a sweet-looking park/dirt jump bike in the works. Sam also does repairs and modifications to existing frames, as well as doing a cool S & S coupler retrofit to allow a frame to be taken apart for traveling or storage in limited spaces. His full-suspension bikes are usually a four-bar design, with beautifully curved rocker arms and sealed bearings.
Given the quality of the workmanship and the almost unlimited number of options available to the rider, the cost of a Naked bike seems incredibly reasonable - especially considering you can easily pay the same for a robot-welded, mass-produced frame. While most of Sam's frames are road, cyclecross, or XC-oriented, there is definitely room in the Naked future for other disciplines.
With a world-wide fan base, loads of awards, and proven records in both racing and everyday use, Naked bicycles are making a serious name for themselves. It’s great to see a Canadian company dedicated to quality workmanship, and it was great to be able to visit Sam in his natural habitat.
Check out Naked's site
and talk to Sam about your dream bike!