I believe that the bicycle is the closest thing there is to a perfect invention. It has the ability to move a person both figuratively and literally—it’s transformative. To me, it’s a companion on par with canines and soul mates. And if treated with care, a well-made frame, even if it happens to be lightweight, can outlast most marriages.

Simply put, nothing strikes me as unremarkable about the bicycle. It combines inherent beauty and remarkable functionality. If you wanted to, you could cross an entire continent on a bike with nothing more than the clothes on your back and a credit card in your pocket.

And I’m in awe of the fact that I can make one with my own two hands.

Like many builders, my relationship with cycling started when I was young and has evolved over the years. But that intoxicating feeling that I experienced when I first realized just what the bicycle was capable of has never waned. Today when I throw my leg over a bike I feel lighter, the world seems brighter and the future seems filled with possibility. When I’m riding, I become part of the scene, as opposed to passively viewing life through the frame of a car window or from behind a piece of glass. I feel more alive.

Years ago I considered opening a bike shop, but after much soul-searching, I realized that what I really wanted to do was to build bicycles. Not dime-a-dozen, mass-produced bicycles, but one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted road machines, as unique to each rider as his or her own DNA. There was never any question what material I would use. To me, the lugged steel frames of my youth, with their thin lines, classic profiles and vibrant paint jobs are, and always will be, the very definition of what a bicycle should be. 

So, I dedicated much of my free time to learning how to build. I invested years reading, watching, asking questions, and attending bicycle shows. I got my hands dirty — first with welding and brazing classes, then a frame-building course at the United Bicycle Institute in Ashland, Oregon. Which led to more welding and more brazing classes.

All those experiences combined with a visual aesthetic honed by years as a graphic designer and art director have brought me to this definitive moment of truth, to my labor of love.

You’d be hard pressed to come across any kind of cycling reportage these days that doesn’t touch on passion, whether the subject is a racer, a rider, a manager, a frame builder, a painter, or a maker of components. And in truth, the bike business is the wrong place to be if you want to get rich. I’ve come to realize that it’s not enough to have the talent and knowledge to build a bike frame. You also need a burning passion. And because passion is inherent in what I do, I wanted a name for my bicycles that properly captured that.

A paramour is commonly defined as a lover, someone who elicits an irrational passion. For me, that’s precisely what riding a bike is —an irrational passion. One that I can neither completely explain, nor fully justify. And I’ve come to discover that there’s no better tool than a handcrafted bicycle to magnificently stoke those flames.

Matt Mowat
Austin, Texas

Paramour Bicycles: Handbuilt Custom Steel Bikes in Austin, Texas