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Siegrists launch new custom/OE brand in Durango

Published July 13, 2022

A version of this article ran in the July issue of Bicycle Retailer & Industry News.

DURANGO, Colo. (BRAIN) — John Siegrist, one of the best-known custom frame builders of the 1990s mountain bike boom and beyond, has joined his son, David, to launch a new frame building business called Sanitas. Sanitas is building custom frames in steel and titanium for consumers and on an OE basis for several boutique brands.

John Siegrist founded Dean Titanium in 1989 with partner Randy Dean Sisson, whose middle name provided the business name. Dean got off the ground with the $1,500 Siegrist got from selling his titanium Litespeed frame. Early Dean frames were built by Sandvik in Washington State, but Siegrist later began welding the frames himself.

Siegrist started Dean with $1,500 he got from selling his own Litespeed titanium frame.

"I spent 25 hard years in developing that brand, and building on it. It was all hard work ... we would build bikes and sell bikes and we just chugged along," he said.

Along with brands like Fat Chance, Merlin, and others, Dean became one of the best-known U.S. hardtail mountain bikes through the 1990s, popular on the early NORBA cross-country race circuit. In more recent years, it continued as a small custom brand with a strong following along Colorado's Front Range and elsewhere.

About six years ago, Siegrist and partners formed Janus Cycle Group as the parent of Dean. Janus acquired the assets of Merlin Cycle Works and distributed imported brands including Knight Wheels, Rossin and Ionic. In early 2021, Janus was acquired by Chicago-based real estate investor Phil Joseph. The company remains based in Boulder.

Siegrist left Janus at the end of February this year and moved to Durango, where he has owned a cabin for several years. David, a recent graduate of Durango's Fort Lewis College, was working in the bike industry as the U.S. agent for Jet Black, the Australian stationary trainer brand. He also was welding frames.

"David grew up in the shop," John said, referring to the Dean frame building shop in Boulder.

After relocating to Durango, father and son decided to partner on Sanitas.

Named for a peak in Boulder that is popular with hikers and trail runners, Sanitas already has business booked nearly through the end of the year, John Siegrist said. Much of that business is OE for a handful of small brands that he declined to name.

"They are very busy, so we are very busy," he said. "Knock on wood, we are fully booked through November and probably December soon."

Sanitas relies on Durango-based Agave Finishworks for the anodized, brushed, or polished finishes on many of its frames. Agave also offers upscale finishing options for titanium components including Cane Creek eeWings cranks, Durango's King Cage bottle cages and more.

Besides titanium hardtail, road, and gravel bikes, Sanitas is producing some steel frames and is working with suspension innovator John Castellano to develop a pivotless titanium softtail.

Siegrist said enjoying life in the quieter community of Durango. "Durango so small, but there's a huge cycling community. It's beautiful, and there are a lot of trails. Dave and I enjoy fishing and duck hunting and it's just a great life here," he said.

David and John Siegrist.
Topics associated with this article: From the Magazine

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