Local Handmade Bicycle Builder’s Reputation Gaining Speed

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Bike frame builder Aaron Dykstra, owner of Six Eleven Bicycle Co. in Roanoke, has won “Best Track Bike” at the 2011 North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) held last week in Austin, TX. This is a back-to-back win from last year’s 2010 Rookie of the Year award, both of which are high honors. The “lugged MS2 stainless steel” handmade creation garnered Dykstra and his Six-Eleven shop another go at high visibility and well-earned prestige in the cycling world.

The online comments following the release of the winners’ names reveal a serious yet fun group of bike aficionados who gather to show off their talents and compete at different locations each year. Next year’s competition will be held in Sacramento, CA.

The NAHBS site gushed with enthusiasm over Dykstra’s 2011 entry:  “We had a few of these picked from the jump. As soon as we saw the 611 track bike [we] immediately started plotting how to run it out the front door and never return, but we decided we like Aaron [Dykstra] and his wife too much for that. This is another well-deserved award for Aaron and 611 Bicycles after winning Rookie of the Year at the 2010 NAHBS.”

Dykstra explains that after a substantial stint in the Air Force, he decided to pursue his dream of building bicycles. He had worked in bike shops in both NY and Chicago before relocating to Roanoke in 2008.  Just after he and his wife Michele closed on their Roanoke home, he left to study frame building under master Japanese builder Koichi Yamaguchi. Dykstra says, “The minute I picked up the torch, I knew I had made the right decision. I spent the following year honing my skills with the torch, holed up in our small basement with two tanks and a whole lot of steel tubing. And thus, Six-Eleven Bicycle Co. was born.

As a second-year exhibitor, Dykstra (a full-time builder for only three years) was allowed to display a full range of bicycles at the show. He said that he was a bit “stressed out and intimidated by displaying my line next to the big boys of the custom bike industry.”  But Dykstra’s talent and refined craft are already raising eyebrows in the handmade bicycle world.

At this year’s NAHBS, Dykstra brought with him a track bike built from the lightweight and corrosion-proof KVA stainless steel tubing that is taking the custom bike world by storm. A piece of ridable art that brims with innovation, the frame also pays homage to tradition with its vintage Italian Cinelli lugs.

It made enough of an impression on the show jury to win Dykstra the “Best Track Frame” award in Austin–heady praise for the affable Dykstra, who was “blown away” by winning a top award two years in a row.

“I’m a little shaky in the knees,” he admitted after being on stage to pick up his award. “I never really expected to meet with this kind of success. I just love what I do.”

Visit sixelevenbicycleco.com for more information on the Roanoke shop.