My name is Ryan Johnson, and Galaxy Gearworks is the realization of a lifelong dream. I build bicycles. It’s funny to say it, and I almost can’t believe it when I do. But I’ve been fortunate to meet and marry a wonderful, supportive woman who made sure I knew I should “Go for it!” and create my own opportunities when I could. This is it. This is Galaxy Gearworks.
Galaxy Gearworks is a single man operation. And for now, that’s the way I want it. I am the designer, fabricator, boss man, and janitor all rolled into one. What this means for you is that a conversation about a custom bicycle project only ever transpires with a single human - the fella that will be striving to create something about which we can both be proud.
At this time, I don’t build anything with stock geometry. It’s all about made-to-order custom frames, forks, complete bicycles, or some combination thereof. We’ll work together to create a just-right blend of measurements and angles that will become your next bicycle. Of course, we’ll rely on some solid bike fit information to make this happen. That information can come from a professional bike fitter or simply from careful measurements taken from an existing bike. From there, we start your new design.
All Galaxy Gearworks bicycles are created primarily with TIG welds and perfectly mitered joints. Silver and brass brazing are used for some joints and small frame/component fittings as necessary or if it makes more sense than using a welded process. High quality chromoly steel tubing comes in many forms and from a variety of tubing manufacturers. I use various tube diameters, butting profiles, and wall thicknesses to optimize the ride quality and durability of each bike and for the intended rider. The end goal is a great experience for you, not only as a rider but as an owner of a Galaxy Gearworks bicycle.
More about Ryan Johnson:
I was born a carpenter’s son less than a year after my older brother. That meant that he and I spent every summer I can remember (think four years old and on) at the jobsite with my dad. Sure, at first I played in the dirt a lot, but I also inherited a short list of lightweight janitorial duties in those early years. I can recall picking up asphalt shingle scraps all day in the hot sun and bringing home a crisp dollar bill. Back then that equated to a shiny new Hot Wheels car plus tax - an exact exchange of goods for money. It also created a sense that hard work equals reward.
It didn’t take us long to transition into “real” work though I never got to relinquish my brooms and dust pan since I was the youngest of the crew. I can remember my brother regularly using a circular saw when he was seven years old or so and I followed shortly after. And we still have all of our fingers! Years went on, and we continued building houses during the summertime and after school during the year so we could afford gas for our little motorcycles and our carefree zooming around town.
Teenage life, high school, cute girls, and my first truck - a 1946 Chevy street rod project - all conspired to relegate the BMX bikes that I’d so loved during my youth into the corner, unused and forgotten. I stopped riding bikes. But as it does, a college experience awakened something in me. I found the bike again, though it was a skinny tired Specialized Allez that got me back on track. It was followed by a Stumpjumper FS with full Deore XT. Now that was an awesome bike! I worked at a shop with a wonderful mentor, a complete and total bike nut. He spent long hours showing me how to build wheels and do professional prep on high-end Italian road frames. All the while, we talked of European professional bike racing. I read. I listened. I raced bikes. I got hooked.
I started to build bikes during those college years. It began with a frankenbike project that turned a battered Bridgestone MB-3 mountain bike frame into a time trial bike with a 650c front wheel. I set a personal best in our Arkansas state TT on that bike. Then, while on an ice climbing trip to Colorado, I saw an ad in the back of VeloNews for tubesets, lugs, and widgets from none other than Lennard Zinn of Zinn Cycles and VeloNews. We detoured to go strike a deal. He was trying to get out of the framebuilding business, and I purchased some tubes and some lugs and some widgets.
Now it’s hard to build bikes when you’re a poor student. I didn’t have enough of the right tools, and I didn’t have any good fixtures. In reality it’s just way slower. But if you have a torch, some files, and some serious patience, you can build bikes. And that’s what I did. A couple of lugged road bikes paved the way for some fillet brazed frames - a time trial bike, some mountain bikes, and some cyclocross bikes. I had an affinity for the Softride beam and suspension stem. I know… crazy! I built a few steel mountain bikes using this arrangement, and they were fun.
And then there was the Carboner (pronounced car-BONER haha). A need for something to whittle away the long winter nights led me to design and build a monocoque carbon mtb frame for my beloved Softride beam setup. It took me eight months to complete that project, and it was a wonderful learning experience. The end result was a bladder molded carbon bike frame that was built in one-piece from molds I made in a tiny backyard shop. You wanna talk about personal satisfaction!
Graduation and a new career path derailed my bike building for a bit. I taught high school Geology and Environmental Science for nearly ten years. I also did a lot of welding and fabrication during that time. My brother and I got into race cars and rock crawlers. Spare time (when I wasn’t riding my bike) was all about steel tubes, benders, and welding. We built full tube chassis’ for the dirt track and for the rocks as well as custom suspension and roll cages - basically anything we wanted and anything that paid a few bucks!
Then I met that wonderful gal who is now my wife, and I chased her across the state. That’s when I got back into the bike business. I worked for Competitive Cyclist and Orbea Bicycles before I spent a couple years with a small business of my own, Motive Bike Service. It was a full-service mobile repair shop that I operated out of a Sprinter van in Central Arkansas. During this time I had some flexibility to do contract service work for Orbea, a race travel company, and some professional teams. I was also able to work for Ellsworth Handcrafted Bikes and HIA Velo, the parent company of Allied Bikes, with special projects. These experiences gave me a multitude of opportunities to learn about many aspects of the bicycle industry and to hone skills and gain knowledge. I’ve met lots of wonderful folks, and there’s no doubt that I’ve found the community in which I want to work.
My wife and I moved to Vermont for her career in 2016. It was an amazing place to live, and we knew we’d want to invest something in our future. I took 20 months to clear some land and build us a new house. I was alone for each and every step of the project. There were setbacks, and there was frustration with winter weather. But I learned a long time ago from smart and patient people that you have to stay true to the task, and that a proper plan, the right tools, and some good knowledge will get you through it. So we had a great new house in a beautiful place, and I finally had a well-equipped shop again with ample work space and a stereo to jam some tunes while I worked.
Then I went to the North American Handmade Bike Show in Hartford, CT and I got seriously inspired. I tooled up a bit, made some deals on some tube stock, and I started to build bikes again. It sure feels good, and I’m very happy to have taken the leap to make my dream a reality. Now we’ve relocated to New Mexico, and it promises to offer some seriously great riding to inspire some seriously great bicycles.