Custom bike startup gaining traction

Domahidy

Domahidy hopes to add to his lineup of custom bike frames. Photo by Aaron Kremer.

The founder of a custom bike manufacturing business admits that the name of his startup – Domahidy Designs – is hard to pronounce and even harder to remember.

When Steve Domahidy launched his brand last year after 20 years in the bike industry, he didn’t think he would go with his Hungarian surname – at least at first.

“I wanted to build a mountain bike that I wanted to ride, and then I played with my last name in Illustrator (a design program), and I liked it,” Domahidy said. “And I also know how hard it is to trademark a name. It’s a nightmare.”

Domahidy, 42, launched his business last year with a Kickstarter campaign that raised almost $90,000. He delivered all the bikes from that order, he said, and he now sells three custom bike frames – two mountain bikes, which come in steel and titanium, and a carbon road bike. Customers then assemble the bikes with the components like wheels and suspensions they prefer.

Domahidy currently has three frame options. Photo courtesy of Domahidy.

Domahidy currently has three frame options. Photo courtesy of Domahidy Designs.

And he’s keeping the name of each frame simple: Carbon Road Bike, for example.

Domahidy, a self-taught bike engineer who attended Cherry Creek High School for three years before moving to Texas, designs all the bikes from his Denver office (Champa and 32) and then has them manufactured in Asia.

Now he’s trying to raise $500,000 to expand the product lineup with a kid’s bike and a full-suspension mountain bike with a novel new rear suspension. And he’s got a fat bike in the pipeline, too.

“With our full-suspension design, because of the radicalness, this will take a lot of R&D. It’s not right for Kickstarter,” Domahidy said, adding that his invention will be the only bike that separates the drive train from the suspension.

Domahidy, who co-founded mountain bike brand Niner Bikes and worked as the head of R&D there for seven years, said he’s looking for angel investors who are likely bike enthusiasts who have made money in other industries. He said he thinks he will have to part with about 40 percent of the equity in the company to raise the money.

“I think we’re three years from breaking even, and that’s because of the full-suspension (invention),” he said. “At Niner, we were profitable in six or seven years.”

Domahidy also said he’s hoping that his name on the bikes will earn the new company some street cred.

Adam Williams, who owns Sloan’s Lake bike shop SloHi Bike Co., said he orders Domahidy’s bikes now because of how well Niner bikes sold.

“It was a shoe-in working with Domahidy,” Williams said. “Not only are they well-designed bikes, they are a little more versatile compared to other custom bike frames.”

Domahidy said he still owns a stake in Niner. But being the head honcho at his own place has some serious advantages for a life-long tinkerer who likes to move fast.

“The good thing about being a small business is I can cut and jive easily,” he said. “As a creative person, it was really tough to take direction from other people if you know it’s not right … rather than deal with that, I am my own boss.”

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