We have always strived to create truly custom bikes that are fit, designed, and built to look and ride exactly how each customer wants. It is no small task, requiring hours of consultation with each customer, and expert construction methods that have taken decades to learn, develop, and hone. The results, very simply, are better bikes.
Some of the finer details of how we do what we do are held closely in the tomes of The Firefly Book of Secrets, but for the most part we bare it all. We manufacture high performance vehicles that are subjected to great stresses and are pushed hard by their riders for years and years. And that look pretty, of course. This is a small part of how we do that.
Tube butting, the process of changing a tube’s wall thickness along its length, has long been held as one indicator of a top-of-the-line titanium frame. It makes frames lighter, improves ride quality, and is a key tool used to tune the tubeset to the specific rider’s needs.
The easiest and most common way to build a frame with butted tubing is to buy pre-butted tubing and pull specific tubes for specific bikes. But easy isn’t that fun, is it?
After over a year of tooling development, we now externally butt each main triangle tube in house, custom for each rider, each frame, and each tube, and all as a standard feature on our frames. That gives us unprecedented control over the profiles of our tubing. We can make the tubing fractions of an inch thicker around the joints and welded water bottle bosses, for example, while reducing the wall thickness to as low as .026” along the rest of the tubing.
Combined with custom diameter tubing, in-house butting gives us complete control over the ride quality of every frame we make.
We have spent countless hours designing and refining our dropouts to be as mechanically sound as they are beautiful. Well-designed dropouts make our bikes more efficient, more durable, compatible with all modern components, and improve shifting quality and handling.
Our thru-axle flat-mount dropouts are perhaps the best example of that investment. The flat-mount disc brake standard was created as a low profile disc brake mount, perfect for road, cross, and all-road style bikes. When incorporated in metal frames, however, companies often have to sacrifice frame stiffness or heel clearance by making the dropouts too long, or aesthetics by simply plugging in stock brake bosses.
We started from the ground up to avoid any of those sacrifices. One brake mount is integrated into the dropout, while the other is welded directly into the custom-machined chain stay. CNC-machined out of 12mm (read: very) thick 6/4 titanium, the resulting dropout design is compatible with both standard and direct-mount derailleurs, stiff, strong, and beautiful.
We have applied that same level of attention and thoughtfulness to each of our dropout designs, and you will see it as clearly as you can feel it in the ride.
Few people understand the many intracacies of welding bicycles better than our head welder, Tyler Evans, who has been welding top of the line custom titanium frames for over twenty years.
We TIG (Tungsten Inert Gas) weld our frames, stems, and seatposts, an intimate and complicated technique that gives us more control than any other form of welding. Before we even begin, we check that all of the materials are completely clean, the alloys of the tubing and the filler rod are correct, the argon is flowing out of the torch at the correct volume, and the welding machine is set up properly.
Welding is a delicate dance between the hands, eyes, and feet: one hand holds the torch, the other hand holds the filler rod, and one foot operates a pedal to control the electricity expelled from the torch. All at once we manage the amperage being used to create the puddle (heat), the speed at which the torch moves the puddle across the joint (speed), and how much filler rod is being fed into the puddle (feed). If any one of these details is off, the frame can be twisted out of alignment or structurally unsound.
That's why we take welding so seriously and value Tyler’s industry-renowned skill so completely. Our reputation rides on every bike we make.
Two qualities distinguish our custom finishes. First is our focus on truly custom design. Anything from a graphic you create to something much less specific, like maybe a snakeskin you saw on a weekend adventure (true story) can inspire us. Whatever the source of inspiration, every custom finish is born from conversations about you, what you like, and how we can translate that into your dream Firefly.
Second is our focus on raw titanium finishes. While we do offer paint, our focus has always been titanium finishes that stay true to the material, including brushed, bead blasted, polished, and our signature anodization.
The anodized colors are illusions of refraction, like oil on water, created by microns-thin layers of clear oxide on the surface of the titanium. We create those layers by applying electricity to the frame through a saltwater solution. By controlling the voltage, we control the thickness of the oxide and therefore the color.
These techniques, plus precise masking, countless hours of experimentation, and a few other secret tricks, give us an unmatched ability to create unique and personal but timeless finishes that are lighter and more durable than paint or decals.