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Framemaker flees Russia, asks industry for support

Published March 3, 2022

TEL AVIV (BRAIN) — Dmitry Nechaev, the owner of Sochi, Russia-based Triton Bikes, is asking industry suppliers and customers to continue to do business with his company, which he is planning to re-establish outside of Russia.

Nechaev, a frequent exhibitor at the North American Handmade Bike Show, is well-known in the U.S. custom bike community. He holds Russian and Israel passports and flew from Moscow to Israel this week. His family plans to join him in Israel this weekend.

He left while he could as western countries impose sanctions in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. From pouring out Russian vodka to ending the sponsorship of Russian cycling teams, many organizations and individuals are making statements against the country. 

He said he had received some "bad" messages from outside Russia, but also more supportive messages. He said Russia has become increasingly oppressive and it had become practically impossible to run Triton from there. 

“They are locking the ability to receive payments from outside of Russia. PayPal and all that won’t let you withdraw to a bank account. The exchange rate is so bad it makes no sense to work,” he said on a Facebook video (below).

He said Triton depends on sales of its titanium frames to cyclists outside of Russia.

Triton won the Best Cyclocross Bike award at the 2016 NAHBS.

“I haven’t received a single order from outside Russia for about 12 weeks, which is extremely weird. This has never happened before,” he said. 

He did not announce publicly where he intends to set up a permanent shop. “Somewhere else that is free and democratic,” he said. “Any other place is, right now, better.”

He emphasized repeatedly that he doesn’t support the invasion of Ukraine. 

"I don't know anyone who supports it," he said. “We are making bikes. We love people riding our bikes or any other bikes, and we can’t support any aggressive action against any people of the world.”

Members of the U.S. industry said they will do what they can to support Nechaev as he reestablishes the business in a new country. 

Frame-part supplier Paragon Machine Works could no longer ship to Triton in Russia because Federal Express and DHL won’t ship there, said Donna Norstad, the head administrator at Paragon.

“We understand that Dmitry didn’t start the war,” Norstad said. “As soon as we can ship to him legally we will. There are innocent victims from all of this; it's very upsetting."

Framemaker Don Walker, the producer of NAHBS, said he expects the industry to step up for Nechaev.

“He’s one of the good guys,” Walker said. “It sucks seeing him feeling like people are going hate on him for this, but the industry knows better and we all back him up.”

Nechaev has a trials riding background.

In an email to BRAIN, Nechaev said he and his company have many ties to Ukraine.

"Half of my family is from Ukraine. The Jewish part," he said. "So yes, although not Ukrainian nationality, half of the family (mom's line) are from Ukraine."

"I would organize bike trials competitions in Ukraine with my Ukrainian friend Vladimir Moga. We did this every year from 2006 to 2012. At some point they were the largest bike trials comps in the world ... Over 200 riders competing. 

"We would have hundreds of people camp at the place of the event. Ukrainians, Russians, Belarusians, people from Moldova and Poland. We were all brothers. No conflicts. Friendship. Gone."

He said Triton's CAD engineer lives outside Kyiv, Ukraine. "He is experiencing short food supplies and multiplied prices on food," he said.

Nechaev’s Facebook video was recorded outside Russia on Feb. 28. On the video Nechaev did not reveal his location out of security concerns. On Diane Jenks' The Outspoken Cyclist podcast released Thursday, Nechaev said he was in Tel Aviv with plans to drive to Jerusalem to leave a note in the Wailing Wall. He told Jenks he had bought a car to pick up fellow Russians at the airport as they fled the country.

Nechaev told Jenks he had a simple message to the industry.

“Since we are going to incorporate in other countries I would love to ask our suppliers — and we have about 40 or 45 contracts with U.S. companies — I guess at some point they may be pushed not to work with any Russian buyer and I can definitely understand that. I cannot do anything about it.

"But I would like to say, ‘hey guys, we are against this. We are trying to flee ourselves from this situation and we would ask you nicely to still support us with your products so we can sell your parts on our bikes, so we can provide money for you and for ourselves and support our families,” he said.

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