Name: Frank (the welder) Wadelton
Occupation: Frame builder, welder, fabricator
Hometown: Hollywood, CA
Current location: Bellows Falls, VT
Number of years mountain biking: 27
First mountain bike: Mongoose Kos Kruiser with a mish-mosh of BMX and touring parts
Current main bike: Sinister Ridge
Riding style: DH, trials and XC
Favorite trail: "Ledges" at Plattekill
Music that goes through your head while you're riding: Could be anything, I am on "shuffle." Hopefully Sinatra or something good.
Favorite trail food: PB&J
Best mountain bike vacation spot: Whistler
How did you get started mountain biking?
I was welding BMX frames and knew as soon as I saw a mountain bike I knew I was going to be riding one soon and I was going to make it myself.
Do you remember your first mountain bike race?
Yes, it was at "Tampa-land" in the San Fernando Valley. Tomac won on a BMX, and I finished last on a BMX. It was really hot and I wore jeans.
You've been fabricating bikes for fun and/or for profit since 7th grade. Did you have a singular "eureka" moment when you knew that making mountain bikes would be your life's work?
No, actually I didn't consider myself a frame builder until a couple of years ago even though I was involved with building quite a few bikes. I like all types of mechanical devices and specially those that can be raced. Bikes just turned out to be the most fun and the least messy and slowly became my favorite.
You've built frames for some of mountain bikes biggest stars. What's the most famous frame you've ever built?
Well, I am sure that a bike that John Tomac or Juli Furtado rode would be the most famous, but the riders themselves are the reason. The ones that I remember most are the ones that owners keep riding for several years and I get to see from time to time.
Which one of your frame designs are you most proud of?
Everything I have ever done has been a collaboration. and I rely on those around me for input. So keeping that in mind I would say the Sinister R9 downhill bike, and the reason is that it is the most evolved and is truly a great machine.
You've had a lot of different gigs in the bicycle industry and worked with a lot of heavy hitters. Of all the movers and shakers, who's made the biggest impression on you?
I would have to say, Richard Storino at Campy, Eddie Cole of sixsixone and your own Mo. The reason is that they seem to be totally consistent, fair and have a long term plan. Unlike my "break shit" program.
How did you get involved with your current gig with Sinister?
As a contract builder who kept "falling up."
How would you sum up the philosophy for the Sinister brand?
I am trying not to interject myself too much into what Sinister is to become. I am just one of the players on the team. Sinister is committed to delivering a quality product and being available and receptive to ideas and the needs of the customers. It's hard to produce here in the states, and fortunately our customers are committed to us, as we grow and find our legs.
I read on the Sinister website that you'll soon be releasing the Gruitr—a new single-pivot bike with 4.5-5.5 inches in the rear. Tell us a bit about that bike design.
At first glance it's a typical single pivot frame. We started with a couple of prototypes we received from our manufacturer. The design of the pivots and bearings have been in use for several seasons and we wanted to keep what was working well, and reconfigure for where and what we would be using the bike for. It's being welded in Canada in small batches and will have some elements from the original design and some of our own making. It's a blast to ride and really fast. It's a good way for an interested rider to see what makes our bikes special.
Congratulations on being inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in 2007. That doesn't mean it's time to put your feet up and rest on your laurels, does it?
Thanks! I am happy to be recognized for my involvement in mountain biking. When I found out I was getting inducted I took the whole day off and took Lanie (my wife and so much more) to a nice dinner. I ordered the most expensive thing on the menu and desert too!
Tell me something about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn.
I know how to make traditional Chinese egg rolls.
Any hobbies, or something you do to relax?
I read quite a bit and like learning about other societies.
Anything else you'd like to add?