Born in Tennessee - Built to Last

Born in Tennessee - Built to Last

I've been a hands on, build it yourself kind of person my whole life. Born in the mountains of East Tennessee, I have spent my life dedicated to the pursuit of outdoor recreation. In my younger years I was fortunate to travel the world racing bikes, rock climbing, skiing, kayaking, riding motos, and hiking. In my travels I grew an immense appreciation for my home in Tennessee. While our mountains are as epic as any out there we lacked in places to race downhill mountain bikes. In 2016 out of desire to better my community I started Windrock Bike Park. With no outside investors or any significant budget, myself and Neko Mulally had a vision we built out the hard way and learned so much along the way. After 8 years owning and operating the park I felt it was my time to move on to new projects. In the last few years I have seen a change in the supply chain for downhill bikes that I felt did not align with my values; rising prices, decreasing quality, limiting supply, and most importantly sending or money out of the USA. Growing up in my parents manufacturing warehouse provided the skills for me to start Southern Gravity - Bike Park Solutions. Since 2016 we have been manufacturing shuttle trucks and trailers, ramps, and other bike park necessities. Our shuttling equipment sparked a revolution of bike parks opening in the southeast the utilize our equipment; Windrock Bike Park, Jarrods Place, and Ride Rock Creek. Steel manufacturing is in my blood and the desire to build my own bikes was inevitable. With the help of Matt Tiede from Ferrum Bikes in the winter of 2022 I welded up my first downhill bike in my barn at Rotten Oaks Farm. We used the rear end off one of Ferrum Bikes trail bike models and I designed the kinematics on the program Linkage to make the most of a single pivot design. I enjoyed the process but the ride was not what I was after. Our tracks here in the Southeast are rough and steep and I couldn't see single pivot platforms as something I wanted to ride. Utilizing a rear end and linkage that was already made was a gateway into understanding the process and got me thinking of the bikes I liked the best over the years and how I could adapt them. I had my mind set on the Giant Glory. I last rode one in 2019 and remembered it riding so well. It also has a one piece swingarm and a double link that I felt would work best for a steel rear end in the future if I was to make a complete bike. I got to work on the computer and with the help of a friend Miles Alley I was able to design a couple pieces that I would have machined to adapt the linkages to a front triangle that had the geometry and kinematics I felt would work best.


At this point I was hooked, the bike rode amazing and my interest in the process was growing. I immediately started working on the next iteration and assembling a team to help design and build a complete bike. Committing to the full build allowed me to design new linkages and rethink the DW style platform. I won't go into much detail on the legality or legitimacy of brands who have adapted a double link platform but I think it is fair to say the origin of this platform comes from Dave Weigles involvement with the Iron Horse Sunday. I went back and forth with Neko for guidance in kinematics as he was far down the rabbit hole already. He recommended studying Mondrakers use of what I would consider still a DW Link. The shock not being concentric with the lower link pivot as it is on the Giant allowed for far more ability to tune the kinematics. We arrived on a set of numbers I felt would be a great platform for racing and optimal for the construction process. To me simplicity and durability are priority in the design. I want the shock to come out easily, external cable routing, oversized hardware, uniform bearings, and modular dropouts and headtubes. As the process became closer to a reality I felt I needed to make a few sizes and get a team of riders together to help me test and develop the frame as my time to ride has been more limited in recent years. To me this project is about building a southeastern frame company that supports our region and offers a better locally made product to our racers so I reached out to the 2023 series winners of Downhill Southeast, Jack Pederson (Elite), and Charlie Goldwin (Junior 15-16), I also felt it was important to develop XS frames and I knew USAC 13-14 champ Bryson Presson was a perfect fit. I am really excited to see where this prototype takes us. I am already designing the next iteration that will improves on the lessons learned building these three. Follow along this season with the Southern Gravity Racing as we develop and tune the bike. 


Southern Gravity Bike Co - Frame 1

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1 comment

Great write up and inspiring to know people that just get after it. Thanks for the bike park and trails that changed the US DH scene. Such a reaching impact! Congratulations on this new adventure, it has success built into it.!

Mark Alley

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