For Sanitas Cycles owners John and David Siegrist, life has always been about bikes. The father-son team have spent countless hours perfecting their craft and are now serving the Durango community with their custom titanium frames.
John Siegrist started building frames in 1990 as the owner of Dean Titanium bikes in Boulder. It is one of the three original titanium bicycle manufacturers.
“I kept that company until 2014 and then sold it, but I stayed on with the new owner. And then around 2018, one of the owners left and we merged into a new company,” John said. “I was brought back in as a partner and we bought Merlin metalworks, which was another one of the original titanium bike frame manufacturers.”
John sold the company in 2021. David Siegrist grew up working in the shop and learned how to build bikes from an early age. He built his first frame when he was 15.
David graduated from Fort Lewis College with a degree in environmental studies. He regretted not racing with the cycling team but became close with the coaches. He developed the Sanitas brand after graduating.
“Right when the pandemic started was when things got crazy for bike manufacturers,” David said. “The orders started stacking up, so I moved back to Boulder and did the full crash course building bikes to help my dad. Right after that, I started Sanitas Cycles.”
Sanitas offers bicycle fits for its custom bikes. The company does calculations based on a person’s body to create the right size bike frame.
“We can be kind of like one stop. You can come in and get a bike fit. Then, we take that and put it into BikeCAD and transpose that into AutoCAD and then build the bike,” John said.
The shop, located at 3067 Main Ave., will also do bicycle fits for anyone who does not want a custom bike but just wants to make sure their frame fits correctly.
Sanitas builds mostly out of titanium. The Siegrists focus on titanium frames because they are repairable and durable.
“The tricky part is that it’s hard to weld. That’s why you don’t see a lot of people working in titanium because it’s a finicky material to weld. You have to back purge with argon and it has to be super clean,” John said.
The Siegrists find titanium easiest to customize because they can take a bike and build it around an individual’s body. John has built bikes for many notable people including former NFL player Jim Zorn, Eddie Van Halen and Linda Hamilton. He has also built bikes for professional road cyclist Levi Leipheimer and Olympian Kristin Armstrong.
David wants to become more involved with the FLC cycling community and wants to start building cyclocross bikes for the team.
“A big thing that I'm wanting to do is help them with cross bikes. Because chatting with Dave and other racers up there, it seems like for other styles of racing, the top athletes already have bike sponsors,” he said. “But it sounds like they have a need for cross bikes. And titanium is a material that is really good for cyclocross.”
Sustainability is something that is important to the Siegrists. The material they use is made in the United States and is leftover aerospace material they purchase from a warehouse.
“All of our tubing that we use is originally milled for aerospace uses and those companies buy 10,000 yards of tubing. The rest that they don’t use just sits in a warehouse,” David said.
He said the process by which aerospace companies obtain the material and then do not use it creates a lack of sustainability. And for Sanitas to use that material to create bike frames as a way of transportation has many environmental benefits.
Because of Durango’s cycling history, the Siegrists feel it was the perfect place to open a shop. They enjoy how community members will stop by to watch them build bikes, and they hope they can become involved in organizations like Durango Devo.
“We’ve just got a rich history of building bicycles. We want to continue that and it’s neat being in Durango because although I was living in Boulder, I raced bikes here back in the day with guys like Overend and Tomac,” John said. “Durango has never lost that community.”