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Fine Bikes

Matt Butterman & Paul Skilbeck

Wednesday 26 June 2024

Fine Bikes are in The House!

Stepping up from bike maintenance to frame building is, well it's more a leap of faith. Charles Thompson of Fine Bikes completed that leap last year, and in the biking boom town of Raleigh, North Carolina, he's plying a healthy trade in partnership with Oak City Cycles.

Fine Bikes are in The House!
Charles Thompson exhibited at Philly Bike Expo 2024. Photo: Dave LaMay/PBE

You move to a new city for work, you get swept up by the enthusiasm and excitement of the cycling community there, so you leave your job, start working in a bike shop and then become a frame builder. Happens all the time, right? Not!

That’s what happened to Charles Thompson after moving to Raleigh, North Carolina, and working at Oak City Cycling for a few years. Coming from a cycling family, and racing BMX in his youth, he wasn’t new to cycling. He’d always enjoyed working with his hands, and for many years had a niggling feeling that mass-produced bikes somehow always left a few boxes unchecked on his personal wish list. It seemed only logical that his next step would be to learn frame building. 

Charle’s drive was not only to make the bikes that he wanted for himself, but more broadly for other cyclists. Compiling bike build kits with purpose and aesthetics had always been the focal point of his work in the bike shop, now his intention was to start that process at the most fundamental level: the frame design.

To get himself started, he took a frame building class with Steve Garn of Brew Bikes, and a painting class with Carl Schlemowitz of Vicious Cycles. After getting himself registered as a business with product liability insurance, in 2022 he hung out his shingle and started taking frame orders from customers, which he delivered in early 2023.

Charles maintains a close relationship with the shop that got it all started for him, Oak City Cycling in Raleigh. He makes custom frames, forks and stems, and if the customer is looking for a full build, Oak City Cycling provides the build kit and after-sales service. 

Find Charles on Instagram @fine_bikes.