In his Austin studio, donning his safety headgear while applying heat to steel, Nao Tomii looks like an artist at work on a sculpture. And in many ways, that’s exactly what he is. His end product, though, is a beautiful custom bicycle, not a museum showpiece. “The whole bicycle-building process is art,” Tomii explains. The native of Niigata, Japan, actually first worked as an artist, for a sculpture company in Boston, but then turned to bike-making when he began cycling around the city. He brought his small studio to Austin in 2014, where he focuses on creating custom bikes.

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