I met Carl Strong at the North American Hand Built show, NAHBS, in Austin, Texas in 2011. As a side note, if this national show is anywhere near where you live and you are an avid cyclist, I recommend you attend and get a chance to pick the brains of some of the most skilled and gifted bike builders in America. The bike culture and all of the other accessories at the show really make it one of a kind.
Carl was the most unassuming guy you could ever want to meet. His booth wasn’t huge but it seemed well done. His bikes were gorgeous. He was there taking questions from my friends that were knowledgeable of his work. It did not hit me at the show, but later I did realize that he was going to be the guy who would build me a custom bike from scratch. It was a somewhat unnerving process because I had never bought a bike this way before. Traditionally, you went to the bike store and you were somewhat basically measured and a bike was found and adjusted for you to ride. If it seemed okay you bought the bike. I am glad that better bike shops now can offer real fit experts that can dial in the size and fit so much better and the buyer does not have to be as leery of the process.
I put my deposit down and I was given some homework to do. I had downloaded a file with multiple measurements and questions about me. My wife helped with the measurements and they were sent back with pictures of me on my two bikes that I had. Carl then made a CAD drawing of what he thought would be optimum fit and comfort. He just walked me through the process by phone and e-mail and all choices were made about my bike and what I wanted. He built me a coupled steel bike with Di2 shifting that could be taken apart. As pictures above show, the welds and coupling with Di2 turned out to be a stroke of genius for a travel bike that could be put in a suitcase and reassembled with ease without a glitch in shifting. We did that in 2013. It appears recently that a national article in 2016 had a bike doing the same thing mine did. The independent builders can be way ahead of the other corporate builders in savvy and innovation.