Jason Ball and S&M Custom Frames

Jason Ball at home in the S&M machine shop. Bonus info: don't ever Google 'S&M Machine Shop.'

There's no denying that Chris Moeller runs the biggest conglomerate in BMX. S&M dominated the frame and fork market for years, and Fit has become arguably the most popular company in all of BMX; branding everything from high-end frames to beginner's completes. No matter what Moeller and company decide to throw at the BMX community, their primary focus continues to be American made frames and components. With their own bar bender and CNC machine, they can pump out more new and unique parts than most overseas suppliers. Jason Ball runs the machine shop, and he took some time to talk about what goes on in the Santa Ana warehouse.

What are some of the differences in producing a custom frame, as compared to a stock frame?
With a stock frame, you already know your cut lengths, angle of miters and what fixture to put it all together in. Custom frames sometimes take more than one cut or miter to get a good fit without any gaps. Sometimes you need to modify the fixtures to get special angles and lengths.

What custom options do you offer to buyers? Do you offer any other custom parts? How does pricing differ?
Top tube lengths, bottom bracket height, head tube angles, rear end lengths, axle slot size, brake positioning or style. We have made custom forks and handlebars. The pricing depends on how many different options you chose and the time it takes to build the frame.

What's the timeline like for custom frame orders?
We try and get them done in 2-3 weeks. We usually do them in the last week of the month.

Though not a custom frame, this is S&M's latest creation, the Randy Brown signature model.

Are there any requests you can't handle? What's been your weirdest request?
We have a fixture to make pretty much any kind of frame. But if it requires some wacky tubing that we don't have then we can't make it. Our weirdest request was probably making pro rider bikes that look like other manufacturer's frames, but with our tubing and dimensions.

You guys are probably the busiest US-based BMX manufacturer on the market. How do you fit custom orders into your production schedule?
At the end of the month we spend at least two days just making custom parts.

In an ever-growing market of cookie-cutter frame designs, what type of rider do you feel custom frames appeal to?
Older riders that know exactly what kind of frame they want. Someone that has ridden many different frames and wants something unique.

For more info on S&M Bikes, or to get in touch with the machine shop about creating your own custom S&M frame, check out the S&M Web site here. -Brien Kielb

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