Owner, Sweetpea Bicycles
// Photo by Joseph Eastburn
For years, the rules of custom bike building were written with certain cyclists in mind: European male racers.
But when Natalie Ramsland first set out to build her own bikes in 2005, she realized the rules were meant to be broken. The 36-year-old California native saw a need for women looking for bikes that truly fit them and allowed them to get more out of a bike than they ever thought possible. Which is why Ramsland learned everything she could about proper fitting and building and launched Sweetpea Bicycles in Portland in 2005.
“What makes my bikes so unique is the way they fit individuals,” says Ramsland, who studied architectural design and worked as a bike messenger before shifting to bike building.
Eight years later, Ramsland has long since perfected her approach to building bicycles for women, which starts with a three-hour fitting session for custom bikes and tends to every detail, from frame angles to colors and accessories. The cost of one of her custom builds — she produces between 12 and 18 each year — runs between $3,600 and $4,000; the wait list is three years.
Sweetpea has built up such a following, though, that many who want one can’t wait three years. So Ramsland introduced the Lust line, which offers three frame sizes, produced by fabricators in Eugene, that she custom fits to individual riders. Those are ready in about 12 weeks. “Still, everything I do is at the very individual level,” Ramsland says, “and it works beautifully.”
"For a lot of people, there's a relationship between the person and their bike. It's a love that runs deep. There's an emotional connection."