"I made my first frame around 2002. Since then it’s been continual slow refinement and skill building. It’s a craft and for me a vocation - I’ll keep working away at it, the learning is endless."
Santa Cruz-based Caletti Cycles makes some of the highest quality frames on the market, backed by decades of experience and a true passion for cycling. ILE and Caletti share a lot of similarities in our approach––from dedication to craftsmanship and attention to detail, to our preference for simple, functional design with no compromise on quality.
We first met founder John Caletti last year when he dropped by our shop, and over the past few months we've worked together on a run of co-branded bags. ILE for Caletti Cycles Seat Bags, Aero Bar Bags, and Transit 25L Backpacks feature an embroidered Caletti logo and sky blue Cordura color band over Black VX21 XPAC, available exclusively at Caletti Cycles.
Check out our recent conversation with John to learn more about Caletti Cycles:
What’s the story of Caletti Cycles?
I’ve been into bikes since junior high - poorly riding dirt jumps after school with friends until breaking the fork on my cheap and oversized department store “mountain bike.” I got a better one, kept riding as a way to have fun and escape the authoritarian culture of school and home life, and find a place in the outdoors where I felt more at home. In college I got a road bike as well, did some racing. After finishing school at UCSC I got a job in a really amazing bike shop, The Wheelsmith, in Palo Alto where I learned a lot, including about fitting and custom bikes.
I also really loved metal work, which I got to do at home with my dad, as he had machine tools as well as gas and electric welding setups. When I figured out that local craftspeople were making these amazing bikes, and how they benefited me in my atypical fit, and the customers I worked with - I got really excited. It took a few more years, but I learned framebuilding from Jim Kish, then more from the local Santa Cruz builders (Rick Hunter and Paul Sadoff) and some others out of the area like Carl Strong. I was back living in Santa Cruz then and bought some tools and started to be able to do more projects on my own.
I made my first frame around 2002. Since then it’s been continual slow refinement and skill building. It’s a craft and for me a vocation - I’ll keep working away at it, the learning is endless. These days I’m mostly getting requests for titanium, and Adventure Road and Gravel bikes. I also offer steel and do Road Racers and Mountain bikes too, along with my flat bar Gravel bike - The Scrambler. I ride both on and off the pavement, so it’s nice to bring that experience to designing and building all sorts of bikes.
What makes your company unique?
Inherently with a small custom shop it’s unique as the vision is mine. The bikes are a product of my experience, intuition, practice, riding, customers, perspectives. The information comes in and sifts through my filter––each of us builders, artists, craftspeople brings something unique and personal to the endeavor.
I like clean design, utilitarian and performance driven design in the frame, with some flair in the colors and finishes. I love joking around, but I take my work and responsibility to my riders seriously, always looking to provide a really great experience for them in a bike that makes their riding time as good as possible.
I strive to be welcoming and inclusive - to be a partner and guide in the custom process. I am fortunate to have really great customers that make my job fun and rewarding. Part of that sense of responsibility includes the environmental costs of doing business. To help offset that, Caletti Cycles is a member of 1% For The Planet, and we give at least 1% of our annual gross sales to organizations doing good work to keep our home planet in good shape.
How does ILE complement Caletti Cycles’ product and vision?
I am passionate about unique, well designed, and well made products by small producers. Stepping into the ILE Workshop + Store, you see all the amazing bags on display, and right behind are the makers and production area. It’s exciting and inspiring!
I think both for ILE and Caletti we are on a mission to hone our craft and use our creativity and talents to bring cool products to people that enhance their adventures.
Check out Caletti Cycles online and on Instagram.
Photography by Eric Asuncion
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