The Vanilla Workshop Announces the California Fit Tour Apr 7, 2015


There’s a bit of Speedvagen coming to California later this month! Here’s the information from the Vanilla Workshop

“The Vanilla Workshop is excited to announce our California Fit Tour. We will be packing the Money Truck up with bikes and goodies and heading down the coast, bringing our signature fit to San Francisco and LA. One of the most important components of a custom bike is the fit, and being fit by the man who will design and build your frame adds a level of control to the entire process…”

For more information on the Vanilla Fit Tour, read on below for an interview with Sacha White.

The Vanilla Fit Tour continued:

“Sacha White founded the Vanilla Bicycles in 1999 and has been fabricating Speedvagen racing machines since 2006. “One of the biggest barriers for our customers has been getting the proper fit. There are tons of fit options out there, but fit is subjective and you don’t really know what you’re getting with the different methods and differing levels of experience. We try and fit as many of our customers as possible, ensuring they’ll be comfortable, fast and especially properly balanced on the bike we are making for them. This is just one example of our ‘built in house’ mentality that adds value to the overall package” says White about his fit method. “I know that this makes the difference between a good bike and a great bike, so i’m excited to bring the fitting studio to our customers.”

With two stops on the Tour, working with Mission Workshop in San Francisco and Golden Saddle in Los Angeles Sacha aims to connect with customers, Vanilla Workshop owners and the larger Speedvagen California Family. Fittings will take place April 30 – May 3rd then continue on to LA May 4th -6th. Those interested in scheduling a fitting should contact [email protected] for more information and availability. Party / Ride / Event dates will be announced through the Vanilla Workshop Instagram which can be found here.

According to White, “Fit is the cornerstone of a custom bike. Many fit models put riders in a safe position, one that limits our muscle’s ability to truly engage and do their job​, which does not allow the rider to experience the full potential of the bicycle. We aim to put riders in a position that engages the core and will help push the limits of their Speedvagen.” In addition to fitting new customers The Vanilla Workshop will be showing the recent work of artist Chris McNally and his wonderful illustrations and apparel spotlighting the brand.”


The Radavist interviews Sacha White:

Perhaps you could begin by telling us what makes a Speedvagen unique?

​Well, almost everything on the frame is either made by us, or for us and is our own design. There are a lot of frame parts out there: tubing, braze-ons, dropouts​ but it’s my goal to make the best bike I can without consideration of cost savings. Just the best bike. So a lot of what you’ll find on the frame came from looking at how it has been done throughout history, questioning that, and refining that. That means not using the same off the shelf parts that are available to every bike company. It also means a bike that looks and rides different than other bikes.

As the name implies, these are racing frames, correct?

​They are. And though they get raced on the road and podium in international caliber CX races, this can also mean racing with pals over the mountain range to the coast, or racing around tow-n.​

What makes a racing frame’s fit different than say, a sportif or traditional road fit?

​I don’t know that it’s different. A good efficient position is a good efficient position. It’s more about the individual rider and not only their shape on the bike, but making sure that they’re not pushed too far forward or back. If they are, that will throw the whole thing off. and the bike will only be some fraction of the greatness it could have been.


How many of your customers come to Portland to get fit for a Speedvagen?

About half of customers who are going custom come for a fitting. This is about 30-50 per year.​ When they do, more often than not, at the end of their fit, I think to myself “my god, they’re going to be so much happier on this bike. They are going to be so much faster”. I know how good a bike can be if you tie fit, design and fab together under one roof, without a bunch of middlemen who interpret things differently.

… and how many send you fit information?

The other half, plus customers who are getting stock sizes and want a sizing recommendation.​

Why do you prefer to do fittings yourself?

​Because more often than not, I get fit info from a customer’s current bike, or I get the results of their local fitting session ​and I can tell the position is off. I don’t fit people with a conservative and upright position because it keeps their back, stomach and gluteus muscles from being able to do their job. That results in a whole host of problems. I see those numbers and I just feel it’s a shame. I can build them a bike based on that fit and the bike is going to ride well and its going to look good and they’re going to be reasonably comfortable, but the bike won’t be as good as it could be. I know that when I fit someone for their Vanilla, or Speedvagen, that that last box is checked and because the fit is going to be dialed, that bike is going to be great in a way that they could not have previously imagined.


What do you look for during a fitting?

​I look for good leg extension, I look for a gentle curve in the back (if there is an abrupt bend, that signifies an injury, or a bad position), I look for the rider to be in an aggressive enough position that their back and stomach muscles can kick in and support the upper body. This way the arms, rather than being used to prop up the torso, can stay loose and agile for steering and absorbing road shock. I look to see if the shoulder blades are poking out. This is usually a sign that the torso wants to settle down further, but the Hbar isn’t low enough to let the hands/arms come down too, so the torso comes down, but the arms (locked out now) stay where they are and push the shoulder blades out the back.​ I also look for relaxed elbows, though locked arms is often a habit that needs to be unlearned over time. All of the above has to do with the shape the rider takes on the bike. What comes next is a series of tests to get the contact points (the saddle and Hbar) positioned under the rider is perfectly balanced on the bike. If there is too much rider weight forward or back on the bike, the body compensates in all sorts of crazy ways. Do this test:

stand like your feet are on pedals (so the balls of your feet are about 14″ apart front to back. Now lean over with your arms in front of you like you’re on a road bike. Get yourself comfortable. So, standing there just like you are, your body is auto correcting and you’re perfectly balanced above the bike. If you weren’t you’d fall forward, or backward. Ok, now go from that perfectly balanced position and lean forward just 1/2 inch. This is about 1cm; a common increment for lengthening, or shortening the stem or pushing the saddle forward or backward. 1cm is a small amount. Now feel all of the ways that your body is compensating. The calf and quad of your front foot are tense, your back and stomach muscles are tense. this is only after a few seconds of standing here. Think of all the crazy stuff our bodies do to compensate for a slight imbalance after hours and hours on the bike.

So a rider’s posture is the easy part and can be achieved on any number of frames through different configurations of stems, seat posts, saddles, etc. The balance piece on the other hand is a specially difficult and can only really be had with custom.

How is the Fit Tour going to operate?

​We’re going to schedule people in advance for their fittings, meet in SF or LA for 2-3 hours. I’ll have my fit studio recreated at the Mission Workshop in SF and Golden Saddle in L.A. we’ll talk bikes, settle on the details for their Speedvagen build and once the design for the frame is done and signed off on, I’ll send it back to my crew where they’ll start fabrication.

We’re also going to have the newest of our bike offerings (disc road and CX, a couple versions of the Urban Racer) in brand new 2015 paint schemes and some soft goods, etc. that we want to share.​

We’re gonna do some rides and eat good food and connect with likeminded people.

This, for me, is the next step in delivering an utterly un-compromised bike to the people who come to us because they want the best of what we offer. It’s meant to be fun and to bring something good to our customers, so I’m gonna keep it light and enjoy a couple of weeks of good work in California.


Why did you chose these specific cities?

​The Bay Area and LA are good markets for us, so it was a natural fit. Plus I love SF and love spending time in LA with the golden saddle crew. Oh and I want to spend as much time surfing as possible!​

How do I sign up?

Here’s a link. If you have any questions, feel free to email, or call. You’ll get a real human being who is not more than 20 feet away from where your frame is going to be fabricated, painted, built and tuned and lovingly packed and shipped!​

Thanks, Sacha!


Follow Vanilla on Instagram and stay tuned for more information on the California Fit Tour!


  • Richard Smith

    I love a custom builder who is passionate about fit. I’ve always thought that this is what makes the real difference; this is the sole factor that allows a custom frame fabricated from round metal tubes to outperform an off-the-peg plastic bike with all its aero benefits, enhanced stiffness and half the weight.

  • Massive

    It is a common misconception that plastic bikes are half the weight. It isn’t surprising because composites can deliver great weight savings, but in the case of bikes the frame is only a third of the bike weight or less, and steel can be made lighter than what is often seen out there for those for whom that is a priority, and whose body weight allows it. The all up difference can be around a pound or two. Of course the difference is often a lot more just because the the steel bike and the plastic bike may be outfitted differently.

    What people fail to realize is sure Lance, or whomever, rides a carbon bike, but he also gets the bike custom fit which is an enormous expense for a retail buyer in a composite bike. With steel the cost of custom is far more attainable. The minor weight difference is probably less important than fit, though as always, some people fit off the rack.