Category Archives: Beautiful Bicycles
Thrashin’ and Crashin’ the Cannondale Slate Force CX1 All-Road Bike
Thrashin' and Crashin' the Cannondale Slate Force CX1

Since relocating to Los Angeles, a land with endless dirt in both the fireroad and track variety, my preferences have shifted a lot in terms of what I want a bike to take on. Capabilities are often grown in the industry piecemeal, then once and a while, a bike comes along that asks a question: what if?

The Cannondale Slate is a what if bike. What if 650b or 27.5″ wheels with a 42mm tire makes more sense for “all-road” riding? What if a damn Lefty shock with just the right amount of travel can instill confidence in new riders while offering an added fun bonus to experienced athletes?

Last February, I got to take a prototype Slate out for a spin and recently, Cannondale sent me a production Slate Force CX1 build to try out. I’ve been spending the past week or so thrashin’ and crashin’ this machine. While many exceptional bikes pass through this website, both for review and for personal acquisition, I will say this is the most fun I’ve had on a bike review. (more…)

Nov 19, 2015 184 comments
Golden Saddle Rides: A Carbon Fiber Calfee Tetra Tandem Project – Thomas Wood
Golden Saddle Rides: A Carbon Fiber Calfee Tetra Tandem Project

Golden Saddle Rides: A Carbon Fiber Calfee Tandem Project
Words by Thomas “Woody” Wood, photos by John Watson

An old friend and accomplice in many of past ventures into the cycling world approached me a couple of months ago about a rather “large” project he was embarking on. At the time he was getting ready for another crack at a national championship on the velodrome. His schedule had cleared up after a very successful run of coaching our women’s olympic track cycling team to two silver medals in London. With the mind a little more free to roam, and a very fast wife to be, he wanted to do a full custom Calfee tandem. Ben had already chosen Calfee for its reputation and known ability to deliver a quality product that would meet his race ready standards. The bike had to be versatile. He wanted it to be a time trial bike and a road race bike. With the intention of racing both at Masters “old man” National Championships next year.

We both started doing some research on parts for the bike. He wanted lightweight and strong. Holding to the old aphorism by Keith Bontrager “light. strong. cheap. Pick two”. We had our work cut out for us. First was the drivetrain. Gates Belt drive and Shimano Ultegra DI2 would be a solid performer. Since the bike is a standard threaded english BB with and eccentric in the captain’s chair. Finding a modern light carbon crankset was a bit of a chore. Luckily Calfee had a couple sets of FSA SLK-SL cranks left and we were set in that department.

A big bike like a tandem requires good brakes. We went with Shimano road hydraulic disk. Once I was able to source a rear 203 IS disk adapter we were good to go. Since they are running an Enve road disc fork in front most of the braking power will have to come from the rear. Hence the larger rear disc.

Next was the cockpit. They were looking for versatility with the bar setup. So they went with the 3T Zefiro LTD option, It has a removable aero extension for use both as a TT bar and a straight road bar. And since we were using DI2 you can just unplug the climbing shifter that will be glued to the extension (the photo shows zipties), making for a quick and easy change.

Seatposts are FSA K-Force Light with internal battery holders.

For wheels we wanted durable. We have had a lot of success with the H+SON Archetype rims laced to DT Swiss 240s. The bike is thru axle and 142mm in the rear. A simple way to stiffen up the bike just a little.

All said and done this tandem is one hell of a machine. I took a couple of laps around the block on it and I must say it was one snappy bike. Out of the saddle accelerations were controlled and rather fun!

Cheers to the fun projects!


Follow Woody on Instagram and visit Golden Saddle Cyclery in Silverlake, Los Angeles.

Nov 18, 2015 13 comments
Bishop Bikes: Cory’s Martini Racing Road

Photos by Keith Trotta

If there’s one race machine that’s been worshipped by the cycling industry, it’s the old Martini Porsches and if you’re the kind of person who’s into that sort of thing, why not get your custom steel road bike painted as an homage to that classic livery? That’s what Cory did with his custom Bishop road. The results are stunning, perfectly executed by Bryan Myers of Fresh Frame. See more at the Bishop Flickr!

Nov 17, 2015 11 comments
The Travelin’ Man’s Firefly! – Kyle Kelley
The Travelin' Man's Firefly! - Kyle Kelley

The Travelin’ Man’s Firefly!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley

Yo! What time the plane leaving?

I met Nick at LA River Camp Coffee a few months back. He was traveling through California on a true cyclist’s holiday, riding anything and everything that the state had to offer. While in LA Nick was staying at another cyclist’s Airbnb, which is how he heard about River Camp Coffee. I have never used Airbnb personally, but if I do, this sounds like the way to go. Nick had access to a local’s endless knowledge of events, rides and the best local bike shop to have a beer! Long story short, Nick knows what he’s doing when it comes to travel and I don’t just mean in the way of booking accommodations. He applied his knowledge to building his ultimate travel bike, too.

Nick’s base was a stainless steel Firefly road bike with S&S Couplers. He chose stainless steel because of the coating that naturally forms when the chromium in the steel mingles with the oxygen in the atmosphere. The passive film protects the stainless from rust and corrosion without the necessity for paint. A smart choice in my book because traveling with a painted bike almost always ends poorly. Nick also chose to use as many Ti and alloy parts as possible because of their ability to take a beating and hide scratches from afar. Even though this bike was purpose built, in no way did Nick skimp on any of the components. From the cult classic Campy gruppo to the skewers used with the White Industries wheelset, this bike is dialed.

Any travel bike is going to get beaten up, but Nick has planned ahead and I imagine his bike will look almost exactly same when we meet again. I’m just hoping it’s not in Los Angeles. I’d prefer for it to be at Shifter Bikes, where this bike was built, while I’m on my own holiday staying at a cyclist’s Airbnb in Melbourne!

I’m leeaaavvvvinnn’!


Follow Kyle on Instagram.

Nov 16, 2015 33 comments
For All Over Your City and More: Testing the All-City Mr. Pink Road
All-City Mr. Pink Road

This bike should need no introduction to the readers of this site. It’s All-City’s flagship road model, made from Columbus Zona tubing and available this year in a classic throwback magenta and pink paint job. The Mr. Pink is one of the best steel road bikes on the market. It’s affordable and capable with the only limitations being those which you set yourself.

So what drew me to review this beaut? For the first time since this bike’s launch, I felt drawn to it in more than just an aesthetic attraction. All-City as a brand has hit the point now where they’re improving on their current catalog piecemeal, rather than focusing on launching entirely new models. At least that’s my observation and the Mr. Pink got some much-needed upgrades. (more…)

Nov 14, 2015 58 comments
Nils’ Cycle Fab Long Haul Trucker Cargo Bike
Nils' Cycle Fab Long Haul Trucker Cargo Bike

A bicycle can often times be a time capsule for an individual’s journey. Be it a tale told through road grime, dust, dents or a augmented addition like a cargo retrofit.

Nils has had this Surly Long Haul Trucker for over a year and a half. In that time it’s gone through various permutations with the documented version being the most current, obviously. A LHT is already a pretty versatile bicycle, yet Nils wanted the ability to carry more weight, lower and honestly, just wanted to try something new. The retrofit was done by the same talent that makes the Haulin Colin racks. It’s actually a pretty simple process. You supply your axle to crown and head tube angle to Colin and he fabs up a steerer extension, a downtube brace and a rack. A few weeks pass and viola. Cargo bike.

I have to say, this is one of the first bikes I’ve shot in a while that has whole-hearted character, not purchased style. The little brackets he bent by hand to hang his rear light off the Brooks saddle bag hoops and his hand-painted accents on the frame completely tie in with Nils’ character. The dude is tall, with a commanding beard, yet his energy fills the room through his smile and laughter.

During the day, Nils fills his hours as a part time middle school teacher and a part time ceramic artist. On the weekend, he’s out riding in the Angeles National Forest, or just kicking around town on this magnificent bicycle. I’ve met a lot of people through Golden Saddle Cyclery, but for some reason, Nils really resonated with me. Check out more photos in the Gallery and follow along with Nils’ rides at his Instagram.

Nov 11, 2015 32 comments
Day Dreamin’

I’m really excited about this review. The All-City Mr. Pink has been on my “must” list for some time now and to finally get a lot of miles and a lot of climbing in on one has been highly enjoyable. It’s with a heavy heart that I have to send this bike back today, but the sunset photos this evening are looking great.

Stay tuned this week for more!

Nov 10, 2015 No comments yet
Brooke’s Mosaic XT1 Disc ‘Cross
Brooke's Mosaic Disc 'Cross

Brooke is an experienced cyclist and when the time came to order a custom ‘cross bike for not only racing but everyday dirt riding in San Francisco, she contacted Aaron and his team at Mosaic Cycles to get her fit on a custom XT1 disc ‘cross.

You see, for someone with Brooke’s proportions, it’s hard to fit on a stock bike from many of the big-named companies, so a custom bike which would be tailored to her body seemed like an obvious choice. She didn’t just want to fit on a bike, she wanted the bike to fit her. The end result was a confidence inspiring feel without toe overlap and enough standover to make unexpected dismounts easy. Key build details are the SRAM Red 165mm cranks (since Force CX1 doesn’t come in that length, that new and fancy TRP thru-axle ‘cross fork and some great I9 to Pacenti wheels.

When Brooke and her friend Tessa were in Los Angeles for a wedding, I met up with them to go on a quick ride and couldn’t resist documenting this bike, but bringing my camera along for a little sunset ride…

Nov 10, 2015 23 comments
Riding in Guerneville California with Argonaut Cycles and Chris King
Riding in Guerneville California with Argonaut Cycles and Chris King

Look. I’m not a super über tech geek. I don’t really care about stiffness or compliance in terms of data or coefficients but I do like riding bikes and developing stories about them, in terms of my personal experiences. When Argonaut and Chris King asked if I wanted to come along for a very informal launch of a new bottom bracket standard, I had a few questions:
-Do we need another BB standard?
-Where is this launch?
-Will there be booze?

Two out of the three answers met my standards, so I agreed. (more…)

Nov 5, 2015 17 comments