Kirk Pacenti is a designer and entrepreneur with two decades of experience in the bicycle industry. He has been obsessed with bicycles since childhood, and has pursued his passion professionally for nearly as long. Following an aerospace machining apprenticeship and a frame building course at United Bicycle Institute, Pacenti went to work for Keith Bontrager in 1994, where he honed his expertise in frame design and fabrication.
After a short stint as a production shop manager for Giro and a long ride across the country with his future wife on a pair of custom-built touring bikes, Pacenti moved to Seattle to work for Match Cycles, a contract frame-building company founded by Tim Isaac, whose expertise dates back to his days as one of the early frame builders for Trek bicycles. Pacenti worked on a wide range of projects at Match, including building frames for Rivendell and Hampsten, as well as the 60th anniversary Schwinn Paramount frames.
In 2000 Pacenti relocated to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to take a position as a custom frame designer for Litespeed and Merlin. There, he further refined his innate understanding of the craft of bicycle building. In 2003 he branched out on his own to run BikeLugs.com full-time, a business he started to supply a growing number of custom frame builders with lugs, tubing and frame components, as well as design and consulting services.
In 2004 Pacenti began sketching out a mountain bike design that utilized the then-obscure 650b wheel standard. While the 650b wheel—sized midway between the established 26- and 29-inch standards, and also known as 27.5—had been in production in Europe for decades, never before had it been used in a modern mountain bike application.
As a frame designer, Pacenti was frustrated by the physical constraints of incorporating a 29-inch wheel into a modern suspension design. And as an avid rider he found himself at odds with certain performance attributes of the larger 29-inch wheel size. For Pacenti, the development of a 650b mountain bike category was a natural evolution in mountain bike design. Pacenti showed the first production 650b mountain bike at the North American Handmade Bike Show in 2007, and has been supporting the fast-growing 650b wheel size standard ever since with a range of innovative tire and rim designs.