Brownsburg-based Roark Custom Titanium Bicycles got a big marketing boost from a man from outer space–figuratively and literally. In its annual buyer’s guide published last month, VeloNews, one of the nation’s largest cycling magazines, featured actor Robin Williams and his take on the Handmade Bike Show in Portland Feb. 8-10. The headline read “Mork on Roark,” noting Williams’ 1970s role in the sitcom Mork and Mindy, where he played a being from another world. In Williams’ review of the show, he raved about Roark’s latest models, calling them “pieces of art” with superior engineering. Williams is well known—and respected—among cyclists. He is a regular in the San Francisco cycling scene and is a close friend of seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. He also happens to be a Roark bike owner, buying the titanium two-wheeler about seven years ago. His unsolicited endorsement in cycling circles carries significant weight, said VeloNews’ Charles Pelkey. Williams isn’t the only one in orbit over Roark. Judges at the Handmade Bike Show named Roark 2007’s best handmade titanium bicycle.
Roark’s parent company–Roark Welding & Engineering–is best known for its work making parts for fighter jets and other aeronautical uses. Roark’s bicycle division is only a fraction of the size of giant bike makers like Trek and Cannondale, but Pelkey noted that Roark’s experience working with titanium is hard to come by.
“The type of work Roark does is a niche part of the industry, albeit a profitable one,” Pelkey said. “It’s kind of like what Ferrari is to the auto industry.”