Cherry Bicycles
Builder Profile

Everything you want to know about the builder ... John K. Cherry III

John K. Cherry, III began his two wheel career at the early age of three when he removed the training wheels from his sister's bicycle and showed her how to ride without them. By the time he was four, his grandfather was taking him for rides on motorcycles, buying John his first motorcycle when he was seven years old. With grandfather being a tool and die maker, John was exposed to the tools of that trade most of his growing years -- developing a keen interest in tools and metal work. The family garage took on the appearance of a bike repair shop as John collected bicycles and parts as well as doing repairs for the entire neighborhood. As a bicycle racer he perfected his riding skills, holding a NBL professional license and continuing to be active in racing until age 24. John also continued his motorcycle interest during these years as well: racing off road events he obtained an expert rating in motorcycle motocross.

In June of 1983 with the assistance of his mother and father, John opened a retail bicycle shop. Project Bike Shop has grown and today occupies an 8,000 square foot building. The growth of Project Bike Shop can be attributed to John's reputation for knowledge of his products and the quality of his service.

Early in 1990, John began to develop Cherry Bicycles, a custom frame building company. Acquiring the tools and skills, he began developing a line of custom steel frames based on extensive research available through contacts and information at Purdue University as well as his own personal experience. During 1991 John, working with a respected race car fabricator, began developing a titanium line of frames and components. Late in 1992, John attended a titanium workshop in Oregon and picked up some great tips on working with titanium. This workshop was conducted by Gary Helfrich, the creator of the first titanium mountain bicycle. Gary was the founder of Merlin Metal Works and now owns Arctos Machine.

John Develops a Superior ATB ...

Most mountain bikes are built to excel in one of two extremes. You have bikes which excel at high speeds and you have the bikes which excel on tight single tracks and are very agile at slow speeds.

When I set out to build a mountain bike for myself, I was interested in the slow speed geometry. My riding time is spent thrashing in the woods with tight single trails.

There is quite a debate as to which head angle works best. I thought that steeper was better for me and my type of riding. I have a wealth of knowledge of off road riding having competed both on a motorcycle and a bicycle for years.

Holding a NBL professional BMX license for three years. I mastered riding 20 inch BMX bikes with head tube angles as steep as 76. With 16 years of off road motorcycling, I have definitely acquired a preference for how I want a bike to feel and work.

With all this experience I still feel you can't always trust your instincts and that real world testing is the only way to gather information.

During 1992 I began developing proto-types. First I built two frames, identical except for head tube angles; one had a 71 angle and the other a 72 angle. Then, having acquired forks with rakes from 1-3/4 to 1-1/4 inch, I assembled both bikes with identical parts and headed to the races.

I have always felt that testing under actual racing conditions is the best gauge of performance. By switching between the two bikes every lap it became clear, by the end of the race, which bike handled best. I then repeated this procedure with different fork rakes.

After racing on a variety of terrain and different locations on multiple combinations of head tube angle/fork rake -- one set up became my clear choice. Much to my surprise this combination was the one I felt I would dislike the most before the testing. What surprised me even more was that this combination worked well on a wider variety of conditions than I thought possible. This combination was the most agile at wiggling through the trees; it had a steering geometry for turning instead of leaning, something I find highly desirable on tight wooded trails, an upright bike simply takes up less space than one you have to lean over. As good as the bike worked at slow speeds it seemed as if it were glued to the ground at higher speeds. At either speed, the bike inspired confidence.

My final test of stability was in sand. Though speeds are slow, the variable that makes a bike stable at high speeds also makes a bike tract straight in soft terrain. I was amazed at how well this combination worked in bike traps. Sections that were almost unridable at best, were a breeze, and I found that I was looking forward to negotiating those traps. Next, I began tinkering with suspension forks. The first thing I did was measure a selection of both rigid and suspension forks commonly available; these lengths ranged from 15" to 16-1/2". I built a proto-type bike using the head tube angle and fork rake I found worked best with the rigid fork, but compensating for the added length of the suspension fork. I found that what was my favorite handling bike became very ugly when built this way. Next I installed the suspension fork on my favorite rigid proto-type. After riding this version, I determined that while it was better than the proto-type built for the suspension fork, it still didn't handle as well as the rigid one.

The compression and rebounding of a suspension fork causes the frame to hobby horse through the bumps -- changing the steering geometry. This is a trait that I feel is not very desirable. While not the ideal solution, my remedy was to find the best compromise in compensating for the added length of suspension forks. I feel confident that my frames are correctly built and will give the best handling characteristics of any suspension specific designed frame available. My advice is that you consider the type of riding you do most and select the proper fork for the job. If you spend your time thrashing in the woods doing lots of technical riding, you would probably be happiest with a rigid fork and with practice will become a better rider too. Suspension forks seemed to work well eliminating fatigue associated with bump forces. They also allow higher speeds and control for racing situations where you can just put your head down and hammer -- but their unpredictable handling in technical terrain make them a liability.

Everything you want to know about the conception of our models...

THE CHERRY BOMB, Road and ATB models

ATB  Get a firm grip on this ATB! You're in for the most explosive ride you've ever experienced! Built with the strongest light weight tubing available. Ritchey logic over size top and down tubes and Tange Prestige OS seat tubes

Road  We feel without a doubt this is the best steel bicycle frame set on the market today! A durable sub 4 pound sharp handling road racing frame set...designed to be espically responsive in power situations, while still giving a resilient ride. Rigidity seldom seen on bikes of this weight acheived with oversized tubing and chain stays, thicker tubing with short butt lengths and round chain stays.

The "Cherry Bomb" was a project that we were most excited about. Ignoring the "tube set" mentality used by most builders, we selected each tube on an individual basis after we had set the design criteria.

The "Cherry Bomb" was conceived after the most extensive amount of research possible. We obtained all of the different types of tube sets commonly available. We compiled charts and lists that gave us all the dimensions and weights of each individual tube. Then, after doing finite element stress analysis on a model frame, we determined the location of peak stress points and the direction they travel. Over the years we have been able to study numerous bent and broken frames that we have seen brought into our bicycle shop; this experience assisted us in determining where to strengthen a frame. Having been exposed to and ridden hundreds of different bikes, we have an extensive knowledge of how bikes ride and how they feel. Using this knowledge base, developed through experience, we are able to detect even the most minute differences. We built numerous prototypes which we tested, and had others test ride as well. Only then, having completely satisfied our objectives through very extensive research, we were ready to introduce the "Cherry Bomb".

THE "CHERRY CORDIAL" Road model

A Classic road racing frame set featuring hand cut lugs and attention to detail from another era! A perfect frame for the mature recreational rider offering not only a superb ride but a great sense of pride in ownership.

In the past labor was a cheap and abundant commodity. Today we live in a time where simplifying procedures in an effort to reduce the building time of each frame is important to nearly all frame builders as they strive to hold down the frame cost, because of this, the "art" of frame building has all but disappeared. In times long past, a frame craftsman would modify and arrange the parts of his frame into an expression of uniqueness that represented himself and made his product stand out. Today most frame builders are satisfied with using the frame components as delivered without modifications; thus eliminating the uniqueness of his product and making his frame look like so many hundreds of other frames available.

The "Cherry Cordial" truly has a style that brings back the artistic value that made hand-crafted frames famous. Features unique to the "Cherry Cordial" include handcut, thinned lugs and fork crown, custom tubular brake and chain stay bridges with stiffeners, a seldom seen Brampton Victor direct miter fast back and a classic mix of Columbus SLX tubing with a geometry tuned for long distance comfort. Combining these features by low temperature silver brazing the "Cherry Cordial" is an original piece of art.

THE Cherry Jubilee "Formerly the FAT BOY" Road model

Unique assembly technique; 1/2 lugged -- 1/2 lugless. Smooth flowing clean aero look designed for the discriminating cyclist. The use of Nivacrom steel with a very high yield strength has cut tube thickness down to four tenths, giving this set extra lightness. The frames built with EL tubing are the lightest of all, yet their resilience and toughness are comparable to those of any other steel frames.

The Fat Boy was conceived one sleepless night when I struggled to decide if I liked lugged or lugless fillet brazed frames best. There I was struggling to decide which I liked better and I wasn't going to sleep till I decided. After tossing around for hours weighing all the pros and cons it became obvious that I liked both and if forced to decide I would get no sleep. It was then that I conceived of the idea to blend the two together.

The next day I started building the first prototype for my wife Marcia. It was Marcia that arrived at the name "Fat Boy" for her bike as she desired to own a Harley Davidson. I decided that the name was appropriate since our unique design freed us from the constraints of traditional sized tubing and lugs. I chose to use the finest steel tubing available for bicycles: Columbus' new EL Nivacrom Tubing.

THE "DEAR JOHN" ATB model

An affordable ATB for a life time of plowing the fields or woods thrashing! Tractor Green! Built with the legendary Patco seamless 4130 Air Craft tubing, the Dear John is a "bike busters" best built bike.

I must confess; I did not conceive the idea nor the name for this ATB model you did. After reading the following sampling of letters that I had received, you'll understand.

Dear John, please build me a durable mountain bicycle frame with geometry tuned for tight, wooded, single track riding. I won't be going 50 miles per hour, so I don't need high speed stability. What I want is low speed agility and a high bottom bracket for jumping logs.

Dear John, keep in mind that I'm not a NORBA racer and I am not rich, so build me an affordable frame that will last me a life time of wood thrashing and won't break my bank account.

Dear John, in the future I will probably want to use a Rock Shock fork and would like the capability to do so when I can afford to.

Dear John, I'm thinking about going to Colorado or Utah to do some mountain bike riding over spring break, which is in a couple of weeks. I realize this is a big request but could you possibly deliver the bike on time to fulfill my dreams? I will be anxiously waiting to hear from you.

THE "CHERRY TITANIUM" Road and ATB models

Designed from the ground up to be the highest quality titanium bicycle on the market! Built from 3/2.5 titanium tubing and 6/4 titanium machined fittings. Oversized design for stiffness and efficiency. Frames are buffed for a dazzling finish.

After extensive research done through many resources available to us, we have drawn the conclusion that titanium might possibly be the best, cost is no object material for a bicycle frame developed yet. We drew upon our extensive pool of resources including Purdue University, one of the top engineering schools in the country and Alcoa, whose Lafayette plant extrudes most of the aluminum tubing used in the bicycle industry including Easton tubing. Because of Indiana's central location and long history of auto racing, we have many racing shops located nearby. Good engineering to us is not just finding the strongest material but selecting the best material for a particular application by comparing all the mechanical properties and selecting the best material based on the criteria of a particular application. In some applications fatigue strength is of greater importance than ultimate tensile strength.

Titanium is a very peculiar metal for which there is only limited applications. Where it works well is in applications that require a high degree of corrosive resistance, and applications where elasticity with a high degree of fatigue resistance is necessary such as springs. Which brings us to the bicycle frame. In our opinion a bicycle frame should be stiff enough to be energy efficient but compliant enough to be comfortable to ride. We believe that to a large extent frame flex, particularly in a vertical axis is the suspension of a bicycle. So believing that it is ok to allow the bicycle frame to have some give to it, the material that you build the frame out of should have a high degree of fatigue strength. Look in any racing engine and we bet you'll find titanium valve springs.

Titanium is a fairly machinable and weldable material. Our greatest hurdle was the availability of titanium frame building components. All of the parts you seldom think about were very limited in availability, i.e. braze-ons, drop outs, bottom brackets, and head tubes. There are only a couple of actual manufacturers of titanium component parts and we were not satisfied with the quality of the components that were available. So we set about developing the highest quality frame building components possible. We are doing the complete job ourselves titanium components and frames.

What our customers are saying about their Cherry Bicycles...

Cherry Bicycles would be happy to provide you with customers' names, addresses and phone numbers if you would like to talk to one or more of them before you commit to purchasing a Cherry bicycle. Call or write us if you would like this information -- there may be a customer near where you live.

I just had to say (again) I really love this bike; it fits my riding style perfectly with nimble and precise steering. It's by far the best tracking bike I've ever ridden.

After deciding to commit to purchase a custom built frame and after John had spent nearly 2 hours fitting me, I remember asking John are you sure it will fit? John said "trust me, it will fit". And did it fit! The bike is responsive and provides the comfort which a rider expects on long rides. Details and the creator's personality and pride are built into the frame.

I rode an Italian made Fazzin frame for four years. Then decided to purchase a new frame and set it up solely as a time trial bike. I was impressed at the amount of time John spent measuring and fitting me before building the frame. He built the bike to fit me for my intended purpose, instead of adjusting the bike with stems and seatposts. I have been so pleased with my Cherry bike that when my Fazzin was severely damaged in an accident, I went back for my second Cherry.

I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate the work you put into my frame. This is the first frame I've ever owned that has actually fit me. The difference that I feel between my previous bike and the Cherry when I'm riding in tight single tract is amazing. My riding has already improved greatly and I'm excited to start racing in April.

My Cherry is my workhorse. Originally I was only going to race on it. However my Cherry is so comfortable I train and race both on the Cherry. The straight fork gives me quick handling but the steel absorbs the road shock. The bike is a good climber as well. It is light for a steel bike and stiff enough not to flex much in a climb. I am still impressed with the workmanship. Another cool thing about having the Cherry out here in Colorado is the attention the bike gets -- I enjoy having a unique bike and look forward to purchasing a Cherry Titanium soon.

The race season is in full swing and going great. The bike handles like a dream, climbs like a banshee, descends like a rocket, and chews up single-tract like a cheetah. Can you tell "I love riding this bike"? I could keep talking about this bike all day.


John Greene with his Titanium S&S Coupling Road bike and John Cherry III.


A Cherry Club Touring with S&S Coupling owned by Larry Hoffman

Important: Please keep in mind that all "Cherry Bicycles" are custom hand built by the person whose name appears on the frame -- John Cherry III. Being only human, John is not capable of performing magic and there might be a small wait, depending on his building schedule. Please plan accordingly and place your order well in advance of your need. Thank you.


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Contact Information


Cherry Bicycles
676 Main Street
LaFayette IN 47901

Phone: 765-423-4488
Toll free number: 1-800-263-9254
Fax: 765-742-5395
E-mail: cherry@dcwi.com


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