An Afternoon With Cyfac

Any time a shop breaks the routine of business as usual, I get curious. It’s easy to put your head down and spend your days concerned with inventory turn, how many bikes were built and how fast those repairs get picked up. So when someone takes the time to bring in a representative from one of the brands they carry, I like to check those events out.

Bike Effect, the studio in Santa Monica, brought in Eric Sakalowsky, one of the owners of the French bike manufacturer Cyfac. I’ve been hearing about Cyfac and reading about them for years, but have never written about them, mostly because until I’ve had a chance to talk with someone at the company, I don’t feel like I have a proper feel for what they do. There’s nothing like getting the story from the horse’s mouth.

Bike Effect has invested in Cyfac in a big way, making them one of their marquee lines, along with Serotta. I spent some time with Eric, learning about how his involvement came about (he had been their North American distributor and dumped his other lines to buy into the company), just how intimate an operation it is (they have 15 production staff) and how they manage to produce custom carbon fiber frames (more on that later).

To woo prospective clients Bike Effect owners Steve and Allison served up fruit, cheese, cracks and wine. It made for a relaxed atmosphere and it wasn’t long before I heard people talking specifics about sizing and colors.

Eric (left) and Steve discuss what makes Cyfac, well, Cyfac. Eric and I are working on an interview that will run as part of the Artisans series at peloton. Though the company offers a number of different models (I lost count as I studied their web site), the ones I’m most interested in are the top-of-the-line carbon models, the Absolu in particular. Though the tubes are produced in Taiwan, every other aspect of fabrication occurs at Cyfac’s Loire Valley headquarters. The only reason the tubes are produced overseas is because they haven’t been able to source a French producer capable of meeting their needs and they aren’t yet in a position to do it in-house, though from my conversation with Eric, it sounds like they may be headed that direction.

Each customer who purchases an Absolu gets a book documenting the creation of their frame, from the mitering of the tubes, to the masking for the paint job—Cyfac uses no decals. Honestly, I was stunned to learn that they often have more hours invested in a paint job than many manufacturers put into the building of a frame. And while you’d think such devotion would make such a bike unaffordable, they are competitive with other top shelf brands.

Cyfac’s custom work offers incredible flexibility to the client. Not only can they vary the sizing, they can vary the geometry, so that if you want something that fits like your beloved Seven, but descends like your old Moser, you can have that in custom carbon. And say you want it as stiff as your old Merckx built from Columbus Max tubes, you can have that as well as they can vary just how stiff the tubes are. It’s a level of customization some companies said we would never see.

I look forward to learning more and reporting more. I’ll try to present some reviews as well.

, , , , , ,


    1. Author

      All: I’ve been having problems with those accounts. If you’ve sent an e-mail to either account that has gone unanswered drop me a note here and I’ll respond.

  1. michael

    i’ve lusted after one of their custom creations for longer than i care to remember. Too me they are the French answer to Pegoretti – creating custom, re-branded rides for pro’s who aren’t happy with their sponsored material.

  2. LD

    Michael…. what Pros are they making frames for? I know a lot of companies do this and most top level Pros are riding souped up copies of their respective sponsors. Sarto, an Italian frame company has been doing custom carbon frames for many of the big names for a long time. You can even select your own tubing from them….. and they make their own tubes.

    1. Author

      Cyfac is no longer making frames for pros. The last year they made frames with someone else’s label on them was 2003. Those bikes said MBK on them.

      LD: Your perception that there are companies making carbon frames for pros that are then decaled as their given sponsor is incorrect. On occasion a company will do a special lay-up for some riders, but those carbon frames are coming out of their own molds. I can give a long list of companies Sarto is not making frames for, and I can’t tell you a single company they are duplicating frames of, for one simple reason: Cutting a mold for a given size of frame is a six-figure proposition and you can’t duplicate tube shapes without duplicating the mold. Most frames aren’t even built tube by tube.

  3. Randomactsofcycling

    Padraig, thanks for this story. It’s great to see a small builder getting some investment from outside of their own pocket. There’s always a conundrum to be had though: more clients usually means more effort goes into speed of production and less into personalization. I hope they can keep their mindset in the correct perspective.

  4. Rigoberto

    Before you proceed with another piece in CYFAC and Eric, do yourself (and us, your readers), the favor of reporting on all the burnt bridges, fights, broken promises, and soured deals that Eric has been instrumental in his short and costly bike biz career.
    Ask anyone who has done business with him, and I expect 85% will tell you his word is no good.
    Great frame producer, that CYFAC of France, but shady business practices should not be an issue to be overlooked when discussing the brand.
    Thank you.
    Burnt once, never again.

  5. Rigoberto

    I just gave you some relevant information re: CYFAC USA, and it basically said, “buyer beware”. Eric Sakalowski’s business record is spotty, and not all above board.
    You seem to think this is not worth printing on your site. So what, glowing reviews for all, and the facts be damned?
    You ask us to speak our mind, yet you won’t let readers that might benefit from this heads up, read my post.
    What kind of game is this?

    1. Author

      Rigoberto: We’re not hiding any information here. I’ve never reported anything negative on Cyfac, because I’ve not run across anything prior to your angry comment. The fact that it took six hours for me to approve your comment has nothing to do with censorship or us playing games and everything to do with the fact that I’m on deadline with a challenging piece for peloton magazine. Given that you say we give “glowing reviews to all” I’m guessing that you didn’t notice that I haven’t actually reviewed a Cyfac and that you haven’t read this blog enough to have seen my review of the Colnago CLX 2.0, which was anything but glowing.

      Rigoberto, you say you’ve given us relevant information, but to my eye you’ve only made some inflammatory accusations. You haven’t backed them up with anything approaching actual data. We really have no reason to believe what you’re saying without an actual story. You say “ask anyone” and while I’ve no need to defend Eric, one of his dealers is a trusted friend and I’ve heard nothing bad.

  6. Rigo-Berto

    PD, you know what? you’re right.
    too much piss and vinegar, apologies to all.
    Ill retract my commentos, Eric is a great guy, you too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *