Oct 23, 2016
Profile: Sean Walling
Profile: Sean Walling
Longtime local builder of high-end, hand-crafted bikes
Published: Wednesday, Feb 14, 2007
By DANE GOLDENARGUS-COURIER STAFF
Sean Walling, owner of Soulcraft Bicycles in Petaluma, has been building bikes in Petaluma since 1988. Zoom Photo
Profile: Sean Walling
Occupation: Bicycle frame builder and owner of Soulcraft Bicycles.
Background: Walling is married to Lainie Bebber. The couple lives in San Rafael but plans on moving to Petaluma soon. He grew up in San Rafael and attended a few junior colleges and Sonoma State, where he majored in history. Walling has been building bikes in Petaluma since 1988, when he started at Bruce Gordon Cycles. From 1990 to 1999 he worked at Salsa Cycles, then started Soulcraft with a friend when Salsa was sold and the new owners closed the shop. Soulcraft was named Hardtail of the Year by MTBReview.com a few years ago (a hardtail is a mountain bike with front suspension only).
What do you like about Petaluma? I like that it feels like a small town, even though its growing. I can go downtown and every time I go there I see a couple of people I know, either at the market or the post office.
What do you make? I make mountain bike frames, single- speed frames, cyclocross bikes, road frames, sometimes custom one-off designs for trade shows a pretty broad spectrum.
Youve been doing it for almost 20 years. Do you have it down yet? You never have it down. Thats the thing, if anyone asks for my advice, I always tell them: Always be humble about it. No matter how good you think you are, you can always learn something.
Who is your customer and how do you get him or her? Its all word of mouth. I dont do any advertising except sponsoring a race team [which includes Yuri Hauswald of Petaluma]. There are certain types of customers I dont want to deal with. I dont want to deal with people who have so much disposable income that they have this attitude that Ill buy this because I heard somebody say it was good, and then never ride it. I want people who actually use these bikes and actually ride them.
What do you strive to create in a bicycle? A bike that disappears under the rider. And what I mean is, when you get on it and start riding, you will not really notice the bike. You are looking at the trail or the road, whatever it is youre riding over, and you think I have to get over this hump or up this hill or around this turn, and you do it, and you dont think about the bike.
Hobbies? My favorite thing is riding bikes, my second most favorite thing is making bikes.
How would you describe yourself? Pretty easy-going. I try to be humble in what I do, and friendly.
What is your greatest accomplishment? Being in the seventh year of Soulcraft.
Who has inspired you? Lots of people: Ross Shafer [former owner of Salsa], John Hammond, the former production manager at Salsa, Bruce Gordon, Tom Ritchey.
What is your advice to others? Anybody whos starting out in this climate, to start out as more of a hobby than as a job. And dont undersell your products, charge top dollar for what your skill level is.
What is your greatest challenge? Keeping myself organized and on track.
What are your goals? Personal goals are to spend more time with my wife and start a family, move to Petaluma. To always do work that makes me happy and Im passionate about. With Soulcraft, Id like to grow it bigger than it is, but to remain true to the reasons I started this company to build really nice bikes, create a really friendly relationship with my customers, and treat them with respect.
Favorite food? If I had to live on one thing the rest of my life, probably a chicken burrito.
Favorite movie? The Big Lebowski.
Favorite book? The Grapes of Wrath.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? To take away all the guns and weapons of mass destruction.
Why? (the notorious question) Why ride single speed?
Single Speed Conversions How do I convert my geared bike to single speed?
Will I need a new rear hub?
How do I tension the chain?
Who does single speed frame modifications?
Gearing Selection How do I determine the proper gear ratio for my single speed?
Are there tools that can help me decide what gear ratio to use?
Single Speed Frame Types/Designs EBBs (Eccentric Bottom Brackets)
What is an EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket)?
Are eccentrics a new concept?
Are all eccentric designs the same?
Why use an EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket) on a single speed?
Is there any reason to use an EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket) with linear-pull brakes?
Will eccentrics creak?
Can my current frame be retrofitted to use an EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket)?
Track Fork Ends (often referred to incorrectly as "Horizontal Dropouts")
Are "Track Fork Ends" & "Horizontal Dropouts" the same thing?
Are disc brakes compatible with Track Fork Ends?
Can Track Fork Ends be retrofitted to my current frame?
Should I buy a frame with an EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket) or with Track Fork Ends?
Component Selection Which should I use...Freewheel vs. Cassette rear hub?
Is a rigid fork better (than a suspension fork) for single speeding?
How do I tension the chain?
Should I use wider bars on my single speed than I do on my geared bike?
Will a longer crank set work better on a single speed than a "normal" length crank set?
Should I use linear-pull or disc brakes on my single speed?
For cassette rear hubs, will a BMX cog work better than a Hyperglide cog removed from my cassette?
What is the difference between a standard chainring and a "single speed chainring"?
What are chaintugs, and do I need them on my single speed?
Can I use quick release (QR) skewers on the rear wheel of my single speed, or do I need to use a solid axle with track nuts?
Where can I find comprehensive information on MTB tires?
Which component manufacturers cater to the single speed market?
Single Speed Manufacturer Listings Single Speed Frame/Bicycle Manufacturers
Rigid Fork Manufacturers
Single Speed Freewheel Rear Hubs Manufacturers
Single Speed Cassette Rear Hub Manufacturers
Single Speed Chain Tensioner Manufacturers
Other Single Speed Component Manufacturers
Troubleshooting What is causing the chain to skip on my single speed?
Why does the chain on my single speed keep derailing?
Why is my rear wheel's axle slipping under load?
Why is the EBB (Eccentric Bottom Bracket) on my frame creaking?
Why do my knees hurt when I ride my single speed?
Miscellaneous SS Topics Is "fixed gear" the same thing as "single speed"?
What is the "4-tooth rule"?
Single Speed Glossary Where can I find a comprehensive glossary containing single speed (and other bicycle-related) terms & definitions?
Single Speed FAQ Credits/Contributors Who made this single speed FAQ page possible?
Why? (the notorious question)Why ride single speed?
Ah. The question that has intrigued many, and eluded others (we won't hold it against the latter).
For many people, single speeding is all about the simplicity and low maintenance. For others, it represents a lot more. It may be about rejecting (often high-priced) technological advancements that promise to make us better cyclists, yet seem go the way of Biopace chainrings in just a few years time. Maybe it's making a stand against the flood of aggressive marketing campaigns from big business conglomerates (otherwise known as "the man"). It might simply be boredom, and the need for a new challenge.
The bottom line is that it's hard to summarize the allure of single speeding into just a few statements. However, Striker (a frequent poster on this forum) has put together a fine collection of thoughts attempting to answer the question, "Why ride single speed?" on his website, TriangleMTB.com.
Read. Enjoy. Be enlightened.
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Single Speed ConversionsHow do I convert my geared bike to single speed?
Spewing out the step-by-step instructions on how to convert your geared bicycle to a single speed would be "reinventing the wheel". Others have already done it, and done it well. Follow these steps to get started:
1. Start Here - These sites have very straightforward, step-by-step detail on how to convert your geared bike to single speed:
Single Speed Outlaw's "How to build a Single Speed for Dummies" - Probably the most straight-forward, step-by-step "how-to" conversion article out there.
WebCyclery's Single Speed Conversion "How-to" - More great step-by-step instructions on converting a geared bike to single speed.
2. On a Tight Budget? - Here are some additional tips, particularly on converting a bike with a minimal outlay of cash:
"Build a "Single Speed" from the reject pile (or real cheap anyway)" - This is a pretty cool rant by Keith Bontrager. The title pretty much says it all.
3. Need More Detail? - Sheldon Brown's website is the "last stop" for serious detail (maybe more than you care to know), and additional conversion tips:
Sheldon Brown's "Singlespeed Conversions" Page - Sheldon's conversion page has some great "how-to" information, and offers considerably more detail than the others.
Sheldon Brown's "Chain Tension" Discussion - This is a great article