If you find yourself on this page, it’s either because you are lost, or because you would like to know a little background information about Bicycle Specialties. Along with that, you will be getting the professional history of me, Matt Houle. This is, of course, because the two are hopelessly intertwined.

I first broke into the bicycle industry at the retail level, assembling bikes at a bike shop, in 1985.  I soon moved into manufacturing, getting a job doing quality control at the (now former) Raleigh factory in Kent, Wa.  By the summer of 1986, I was painting, and loving it.  It was while painting at Raleigh that I first used the name Bicycle Specialties.  I started getting a lot of referrals to do custom paint jobs, and needed business cards, and a name.  In 1989, after a brief stint painting for Klein Bicycles, I found myself apprenticing as a framebuilder for Davidson Handbuilt Bicycles, in Seattle.  In 1991, while still at Davidson, I made Bicycle Specialties a legitimate business as I began to use various booths to provide custom painting.  Finally, in 1994, I made the big step, I made Bicycle Specialties my only job. In 1995, R&E Cycles, in Seattle, asked me to expand my business and take over the day to day running of their frame shop.  

About Us

For the next 5 years, Bicycle Specialties was the primary frame builder/painter for Rodriguez Bicycles.  In that time, we (I now had employees) built over 650 frames.  These included, over 50 tandems (many with S&S Couplings &/or Softride Beams), over 50 small wheeled travel bikes (most of which were built for an OEM customer in Japan who sold them under the name of "CleanSpeed"), 5 convertibles (single/tandem convertibles using S&S Couplings), and countless numbers of frames that some considered weird (but that the customers loved).  Some of the frames went to racers that we sponsored.  Two of those racers did quite well, one sprinted to a gold medal at the UCI Master's World Track Championships and the other survived to take 2nd in her age category (50+) at the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon.  I have also had bikes displayed at the Seattle Bike Expo, INTERBIKE (America's largest bike industry trade show), and the Tokyo International Bike Show.

Having said all that, I expect the future of Bicycle Specialties to be bright.

I have just about completed the re-tooling process that I started when I closed my shop in Seattle. I still have a few more fixtures to make or refine, and I probably won’t have a milling machine again for years to come, but I can do almost everything that I could do in my original shop.

Once I am resettled, Bicycle Specialties will, once again, be a larger part of my life. I will set the shop and paint booth back up and begin the gradual process of building up the business.

Please feel free to contact me at any time. Even if my shop isn’t in it’s final location, I can probably still build you what you need. And failing that, I will be happy to answer your building/painting questions.

By 1999, I had come up with some pretty interesting stuff, like the Orion Travel Bike, that just weren't getting enough exposure thru R&E.  So, I decided to create my own brand name, Micro City Cycles (which I have since dropped in favor of my last name). In 2000, still unhappy with my lot in life, I made the drastic decision to change the direction of my business.  I found myself with lots of ideas that I wanted to develop, but no time, or money, to work on them.  So, I decided to move my shop, get rid of my employees (sorry, but there is just no nice way to say that!), and get a full time job to pay the bills.  Luckily for me, the job that I found was with Advanced Transportation Products (ATP),  makers of Vision Recumbents. Designing and building recumbents takes a slightly different mindset.  I enjoyed the challenge of learning something new, and regardless of whether or not I ever build my own recumbents, the experience will only help me become a better builder of "wedgies" (or "real bikes" to those who prefer a more upright approach to the world).

In the spring of 2002, I left Seattle, and gradually made my way to Port Townsend, Wa.   I left ATP, and the bike industry, in the summer of 2002.  Since 2003, I have been working in the marine industry as a welder/fabricator. The coolest thing about that, is that I have been successful installing bike parts on multi-million dollar yachts (S&S Couplings as part of engine room railings).

The Financial Meltdown, along with events in my personal life, have forced some changes in the business. Currently, the frame shop is in a temporary location and the paint booth is in storage. I am still happy to build your custom bike for you, I just won’t be able to put the paint on it myself.