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Cetma - An interview with Lane Kagay

By Krista Carlson

Lane Kagay is the owner and fabricator behind CETMA, and builds racks and cargo bikes in Venice, California. He recently took in his first apprentice, to share his skillset and improve his own production process. It all began 8 years ago when he built himself a rack to ease his work as a bike messenger. Since adding cargo bikes to his line, they have been embraced by parents and business owners to make their lives go a little smoother as well, including the University of Kentucky’s mobile bike shop, a bike rental and delivery business in Austin called Bikes on Bikes, and a coffee delivery business in Montana. We visited the CETMA shop recently to chat with Lane about his bikes; here’s what he told us:

What’s the first thing you do when you’re getting ready to build a cargo bike?

A lot of frame builders have this ritual where they’ll meet with the customer and take their measurements and get them fitted for their bike; all my bikes are the same, which makes it easier to produce and more efficient—but the first thing I do is all the bending; I try to do all the bending for the bikes all at once. I have this stuff systemized, and we’re almost at the point now where we can get a bike done in one day.

What ways are you expanding your operation this year?

I have an extra brain and extra hands to help me; that’s how I’m expanding. From the beginning I’ve never intentionally tried to go into business, or deliberately tried to expand.

The way this whole thing got started was I built a rack for myself in my garage, and people at my work wanted them. I was a bike messenger in San Francisco, so other people started asking me for them. Same thing with the bikes; I built one and put it online and people wanted them, so it just naturally grew into a business. It started as a weekend hobby, but I’m expanding because demand is going up. If people stop buying bikes and racks from me then, fine, I’ll make something else. I don’t have big inventory, I don’t have a bunch of shit made in China, and I don’t have a warehouse full of stuff that I have to try to sell to people. It doesn’t work that way here—somebody makes an order and then we make the bike for them.