The Inside Line: Frank The Welder
Bellows Falls, Vermont is not a particularly notable place. It was once another typical mill town on the Connecticut River, with businesses harnessing the raging water to turn their machines of industry. Now, it is the site of a hydro-electrical dam and a rundown rail yard, with a quaint downtown always humming with local commerce. An unassuming town, it actually has a lot going on within the time-worn warehouses on the fringe of town, most notably a derelict-looking facade with hiding a gem. The only hint that there is something going on behind the door is the faint glow of fluorescent ceiling lights through the adjacent bay door window. Inside what was once a thriving printing business now resides Frank Wadelton’s newest workspace. Better known as FTW, Frank is an industry legend – he’s in the MTB Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport. I met Frank in 2005 when he asked if I’d like to ride for the company he was a part of at the time, Sinister Bikes. I rode for them during my days as a Junior in DH. Since then, a lot has happened and a lot has changed. But one constant is that Frank has more stories than most, and I learn something new every time we hang out. In this sit-down, we start with some origin stories and then blast through the past, jumping around a bit and land somewhere in the present. A “colorful life” as he put it, Frank is one rad dude! - Zach Faulkner
A racer first, Frank emphasizes the importance of wanting to ride what he's building. He still wants to race at heart, the years of moto and DH always lingering in the back of his mind.
The R9 was a really dominant machine in the early 2000s, it was an "it-factor" race sled that drew the eyes of everyone in line at the lift. Everyone wanted one, and it became even more quested after once the "shorty" version was introduced, just a shorter reach [before it was called that] for riders under 5'10", which is what I raced to a fair bit of success (perhaps most notably 3rd at the US Open in AM Open). I still have my frame, it is a treasured possession of mine, along with the DNA hardtail which is just a piece of art!