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Isn’t it funny how the life has its ups and downs, its twists and turns? Take Santiago Toro (founder of Scarab Cycles) for example – who would have imagined that this frame builder working out of a horse stable in 2014, would now be moving into a state-of-the-art facility; hand making some of the best steel frames in the industry?

Now life had some ups and downs (in the form of a bumpy plane ride) in store for me. When Santiago generously invited me to Colombia for the Grand Opening of the new facility, I packed my bags and made a dash for the airport.

Landing in Rio Negro you are instantly met with the reality that you are at 7,300ft above sea level. Breathing is more difficult for someone from coastal CT. The highest peak we have is Mt Washington at 6,288 feet!

I was picked up by taxi and driven to El Retiro where the new facility is. Along the way it reminded me in a way of Jamaica; rich, thick greens, the smell of burning foliage, the beautiful flowering trees and the livestock. For someone who has never been in this part of the world, at 7,300ft these kinds of things felt out of place. What also felt out of place would be finding a world class bicycle builder.

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The facility is a shared building with cyclists in mind. To the left there’s a pizza restaurant, a craft beer brewery (Torrealta) and a coffee shop with amazing pastries. To the right is the main attraction, Scarab Cycles.

The first floor is dedicated to their show room, and the second has the offices, two paint booths and the frame creation space. From design to delivery, the new facility offers a streamlined flow for production. Santiago Toro is heading up a team that is destined to make a mark in the handmade steel frame manufacturing world. I have had the pleasure of being around him several times now. A sincere, energetic young man with a grounded balance for business and the appreciation of nature.

During my tour of the facility, I’m shown how the Scarab bicycles are built. With the custom measurements drawing in hand, we start with cutting and mitering the tubes. When this is done precisely, the end product is perfect.


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As the tubes are honed, they are installed into the jig and tacked in place. All of this is done to ensure alignment and precise fit of the tubes prior to welding. Once tacked, the frames are inspected for initial alignment and geometry. From here they move onto the welding process. Steel welders here are artists, their welds are their signatures.

Prior to moving onto the base paint, the frames are thoroughly inspected for alignment. After the base paint is applied, the true artist Alejandro Bustamante takes over in preparation for its final appearance. He has a lot of patience working directly with clients to create unique one-off designs.

He often uses designs from the Colombian nature that surrounds the mountainsides. Inspired by the intricate patterns on beetles wings or the beauty and color in the local environment, he creates designs you could only dream of.

Since returning home I have been asked about how safe I felt whilst in Colombia. I’ve travelled extensively around the world, and the people of Colombia are some of the most welcoming I’ve ever met. There are also cyclists everywhere. Riding in the streets, the only other place I’ve seen this many riders consistently was in Majorca. The drivers are accepting of cyclists and expect to see many of them.

Our industry is continually driving us towards carbon frames, but the truth is steel is an incredible material. With modern steel you are getting into a lightweight performance driven machine that will outride many carbon bikes. Colombia’s history and colors are sewn into the Fabric of what makes Scarab Cycles so special. Santiago and his team are on a path for greatness.

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