One of the great things about cycling, and cyclocross specifically, is the variety of people within the community—racers, product developers, those who support development programs, and more.
There are of course a few people who wear many hats within our small world. One such person is Brady Kappius. Kappius has been racing cyclocross at a high level for more than a decade, beating Tejay Van Garderen and Peter Stetina to a Nationals medal as a Junior, often been a contender for the singlespeed title at the National Championships, and currently races as a pro for the ClifBar team. When not racing, he’s tinkering and helping to run his family company, Kappius Components. We recently caught up with Kappius for a quick interview.
Cyclocross Magazine: Tell us what you’ve been up to recently. What have you been up to since Nationals?
Brady Kappius: I took a break after cyclocross season. I got out and did more backcountry skiing than riding. Finally in the last couple of months April, May I started riding again. I’m training decently right now. I’ll be racing mountain bikes all summer. I went to GoPro games this past weekend up in Vail, Colorado. And my dad and I are doing the BC Bike race this summer as a team. We’ll do the 80+ duo category, which is designed for two 40-year olds.
CXM: Wow. That’s awesome. And what about Kappius Components. What’s been happening there and how is that endeavor going? Anything new and exciting coming down the line?
BK: Things there are busy for sure. I work full time on that. Right now though, it’s business as usual, focused on getting orders out the door. Really I’m just trying to grow the brand awareness with people. We’ve started an ambassador program and hopefully we will get the word out some that way. As for future products, I have some in the back of my head. Mostly mountain bike stuff.
CXM: You have an engineering background. With Kappius Components how involved are you in the design and testing of what’s being produced?
BK: I do Both. Everything is designed in house. My dad and I do all of that together. But I spend most of my days doing day to day stuff in the office. All of the design work is dad and me. And I test the products as well.
CXM: Are you still doing Broken Carbon too? How did that come about and what’s your carbon work background?
BK: I oversee it. I don’t do the hands-on stuff anymore. It’s actually all [Broken Carbon and Kappius Components, Ed.] done from the same location. The carbon work is a time consuming process, so I have folks [who] help with that and take on the hands-on side of things and I just make sure it’s flowing smoothly. All of the business there is from word of mouth. We’re doing about five to ten bikes a week and it’s mostly from local riders, about 85%. The average cost of repair is about a 10th the price of a new frame, which is great for riders.
CXM: What are the racing plans for you and the ClifBar team this year?
BK: Pretty similar to the last few season. Three of us will be out there. It’s going to be an interesting season with Jingle Cross being a World Cup race. That’s my favorite race of the year. Really interesting being so much earlier on the calendar.
CXM: What about the development squad? How is that going and what’s on the table for 2016 there?
BK: Ben Turner and I run that together. Ben is a great guy. He went to Worlds when I was there as a Junior. He and I run the development program and we’ve added a couple of U23 riders, a kid from Marion University, but a strong contingent across the US. Mostly it’s Colorado-based, but some guys from California too. They’ll be at select UCI races and of course Nationals.
CXM: What do you see yourself as first, a bike racer, an entrepreneur, and engineer?
BK: A couple of years ago my answer would have been different. Right now I’m focused on the business. Dad and I put a lot of work and money into the business and the timing is right for me to take it on full time.
Of course, there’s also pride in the company name and the attendant pressure to make it successful. I think I can attribute some of the business’ success to our experience in the racing world. I love racing and am not planning on stopping soon, but it’s not main focus anymore.
CXM: Is the reverse true too? Does having an entrepreneurial spirit help your racing?
BK: I can see the cross over. But I see the racing helping the business more. But if I was an entrepreneur first, I could see it work both ways. As a racer, nobody is telling you what to do. You have to get out there and be self-motivated.
CXM: You’ve been a perpetual contender at Nationals for the singlespeed title but opted out in Ashevile? Was it too close to the pro race? Was it hard to choose?
BK: The singlespeed race is always a fun thing to do. The real reason to do it was to be able to ride the course without others on it. For Asheville, a few weeks before the race I went to register for the singlespeed race and the field was full. And then when they [USAC, ed.] opened registration at the race to everyone, I didn’t have a bike with me. But racing singlespeed gives you a real benefit, I would definitely recommend it.
CXM: What benefit do you think a rider get racing singlespeed?
The benefit of singlespeed racing is not being able to shift. It teaches you to carry your momentum and choose the best lines. You learn how to get through tight spots faster and it makes you think about entry/exit speed. Also, you can turn your brain off and just pedal.
CXM: You’ve been racing UCI cyclocross events for a while, and you and your Clif Bar teammates earn UCI points and top finishes. For up-and-coming racers who want to make a go of being a pro cyclocross racer, what advice do you have for them? Is it possible to make a living with a similar race schedule and results to yours without the other job you hold?
BK: Good luck! In all reality on the men’s side there are six to eight guys who can make a legitimate living. But it’s a lot of sacrifices. Having said that, there’s nothing holding you back. You have to go all in. It’s all about getting those race experiences, go to UCI races. Push yourself. Race experience is a major factor in success. So get some!
There are guys [who] have moved up and made a living at it [Stephen] Hyde, [Anthony] Clark, Those guys started on smaller teams and made it. Clark has made a name for himself and it’s awesome to hear his story. You have to commit to it.
CXM: Father’s Day was last weekend. We’ve heard you credit your dad for getting you into racing. Would you be doing this without your dad?
BK: Dad is my biggest idol. I started racing when I was three because of him. He got me into the sport. With a lot of younger riders these days it’s a fine line between encouragement and pressure. Dad did that well, found the balance. I can’t thank him enough. I wouldn’t have it any other way, us working and racing.
CXM: Will you be at ClifBar’s CykelScramble this year?
BK: I haven’t heard yet. Not sure. Maybe. I know Troy went last year. The coolest thing about that event is they bring in riders from different sports. Last year they did some gravity athletes. I’d love to do it again.
CXM: What about some of the bigger gravel races. Do you have plans for any of those and of so, which ones?
BK: 200 miles is a little nuts, but these events are awesome. If you found me training in Boulder it’d be in the woods or on a dirt road. Any time you see me at a road race, there’s dirt. But I haven’t done [a gravel race] yet. They caters to a wide array of racers and riders so I see the popularity. Getting out there, not seeing traffic, conditions are great, all of that gets you back to why you ride a bike in the first place.
CXM: Great speaking with you Brady. Thanks for taking the time to chat.