Winters are long in Nova Scotia, Canada, but the short summers are sweet – a cyclist’s paradise with cool, crisp weather and quiet roads through lush northern countryside.
Tamarack Cycles have been handbuilt in Halifax, Nova Scotia by Mark Beaver since 1990. Beaver is a 40-year veteran of the bike industry, having owned a bike shop for 20 years before focusing solely on his beautifully crafted steel framesets.
Beaver began frame building in 1989 when three friends, Michael Thomson, Larry White, and Beaver bought out the tools and inventory and took over the workshop of his friend Greg Smith, who had founded a custom frame building business several years before that, which he named Cyclesmith. Greg rapidly discovered that there was more money to be made running a retail store than in building frames. Thomson and Beaver began building bikes out of their workshop on the Halifax waterfront near Pier 23, doing custom frame building and custom painting. Thomson moved to Toronto after graduating from a mechanical engineering program, and Beaver continued to build part-time while working in the retail store.
“As Cyclesmith became bigger and bigger, my time for frame building became less and less. Now that I have retired from retail, I am reinvigorating my frame building business and satisfying the artistic component of my soul,” says Beaver.
Beaver has an eye for traditional design, with shapely cut lugs a particular hallmark of the Tamarack marque. While he’s built racing bikes, mountain bikes, recumbent bikes and even tandems, these days Beaver’s focus is on road bikes: all-road bikes, randonneur bikes, touring bikes, and gravel bikes.
“My passion is the open road. I’ve owned over a hundred bikes since I began cycling seriously in 1978; I still have way too many of them! I’ve always been curious as to what properties make a bike handle the way it does – my studies of bike geometry, bike fitting, bike variations have allowed me to design bikes that ride the way they should, for the intended rider; and design bikes that become lifelong companions for their owners,” says Beaver.
Tamarack’s website details a number of custom frames that Beaver has built for customers over the years. Of particular note is a randonneuring bike built for a customer named Mark that incorporates Ritchey Breakaway couplers on a frame made from heat-treated Reynolds 725 steel tubing. With its traditional rando design and stately purple and white color scheme, the frameset also includes brazen on studs for Mafac Raid centerpull brakes, a mainstay of the randonneuring scene and which allow for tire widths of up to 700x42c.
Also a standout is the Tamarack Hetchins tribute frameset that Beaver calls the “Hetchins Homage,” with curved and swaged chain and seat stays characteristic of the famed British builder. The classic orange paint scheme, flat fork crown and fender eyelets are further evidence of the frameset’s British pedigree.
As for the name Tamarack Cycles, Beaver says it comes from the name of a northern species of tree found in Canada – in fact the only deciduous coniferous tree.
More info: http://tamarackcycles.ca/