SquareBuilt Bikes Brooklyn Shop Tour
Lance Mercado is the man behind the SquareBuilt bicycle brand, a small custom shop out of a Brooklyn basement. He setup shop shortly after a UBI framebuilding course in 2007 and has been building bikes since, more or less specializing in steel street track bikes and recently getting into the bike polo market with custom frames, forks and bars.
Having visited a number of custom frame shops over the years, one of the first things to strike me about those that I’ve visited in New York is the use of space. It’s something unique to people living and working in places with such tight real estate—organized, modular, free from excess. SquareBuilt is located in the smallish basement space below Lance’s apartment in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, and has everything on hand to braze or TIG weld a frame and fork, along with the blasting and powdercoating equipment to finish the job. It’s a tight ship that cranks out a frame or three per week throughout the year, with a mix of full custom orders and “built to size” frames based on customer measurements and popular SquareBuilt models.
My introduction to SquareBuilt was through bike polo, first by noticing the squared off polo bars on a number of bikes in the general competition area and then through a few fully custom SquareBuilt polo bikes that showed up last year. The bars provide an upright position on the bike with the sweep to keep your wrists happy, and available for $80 in whatever clamp diameter your bike may require. The real story with the custom polo bikes out there is the one-off prototype coupler system shown in the later images below, consisting of six bolts connecting the overlapping, reinforced top and down tubes. So far so good, the bike has been going strong without any signs of trouble for a few months now—time will tell if the system works in the long term, but it is certainly an interesting approach to a popular but expensive option among travelers.
A great visit, and after showing me the shop Lance was nice enough to guide me to neighbors Johnny Coast and Horse Cycles (each to be covered in a future gallery). See more from SquareBuilt at www.squarebuilt.com