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Colorado’s Paketa, the only magnesium bike maker at NAHBS

March 5, 2013
Paketa's D2r Tandem on display at the 2013 NAHBS

Paketa’s D2r Tandem on display at the 2013 NAHBS

The casual North American Handmade Bicycle Show visitor would not have noticed anything unusual about the Paketa display. Tucked away at the end of one of the exhibition rows, several tandems dominated the booth. A mountain and road bike completed the collection.

But lettering on one intensely pink seat stay gave away what set Paketa apart from the other 86 frame exhibitors at NAHBS this year. It read “Magnesium.”

A magnesium frame? What planet does that come from? The answer is Broomfield, Colorado, where Paketa has been making magnesium bikes for twelve years. One of their tandems won Best in Show for Alternative Frame Material at the 2012 NAHBS.

Paketa's Dave Walker and Terry Malouf at the 2013 NAHBS

Paketa’s Dave Walker and Terry Malouf at the 2013 NAHBS

According to Terry Malouf, a Tandem Specialist who helps customers decide what they need, and Dave Walker, Designer and engineer, Paketa is the only magnesium bike fabricator in the U.S.

The couple described the advantages of a magnesium frame: it’s one of the lightest metals available, durable, and with ten times better vibration dampening than steel, aluminum, or titanium, it delivers an extremely smooth ride.

So why are magnesium frames so rare?

“As a practical matter it has a very narrow window where you can get a good strong weld. So it takes a very high level of skill to do it right,” Walker said. “There aren’t that many people that have that skill.” Master welder JP Burow owns the company.

An example of Paketa’s magnesium welding skills

Magnesium’s properties as a frame material make it very suitable for tandems, and Paketa has built a niche in the bicycle made for two. Walker said when it comes to building tandems the only main competing material is carbon fiber. Because carbon fiber tandems are also handmade, Paketa can compete well on price. The cost for a Paketa tandem ranges from about $10,000 up to about $18,500, depending on the components.

This Paketa D2r tandem weighs 22.5 lbs

This Paketa D2r tandem weighs 22.5 lbs

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