Category Archives: Beautiful Bicycles
Photos by Chris Raia
It’s framebuilder’s week here at the Radavist. Each year, I immerse myself into the world of custom bicycles for the week leading up to NAHBS in an attempt to psyche myself up for the workload that awaits at NAHBS. Covering the world of custom bicycles and framebuilders stems from a love for the industry. An obsession for details, an eye for proportion and the story each bicycle tells without uttering a word.
While NAHBS is all about the exhibition, it’s most importantly a venue for the public to connect to the private world of the framebuilder. These artists spend their time behind lathes, torches and files for most of their days. NAHBS gives them a moment to share their hard work with you, their potential clients.
For builders like Nao Tomii at Tomii Cycles, his work is displayed to the public via his Flickr and other social media outlets. While Nao won’t be at NAHBS this year, it doesn’t mean his work is any less worthy of a spotlight. Case in point is his latest build: Annie’s road. Built with modern Campagnolo, made in the USA White Industries crank, made in the USA Camillo brakes and a mesmerizing paint job by Jordan Low, this piece of art is sure to bring Annie many miles of joy.
Custom frames like this are examples of an artist’s work, but most importantly, they’re vessels that bring clients miles of joy. Well, that and pretty photos for us to ogle. See more at the Tomii Flickr.
Personally, I can’t wait for NAHBS. It’s my favorite event of the year.
Repete Cycles have been featured here on the Radavist before. Their handmade in the Czech Republic, custom frames are simple machines with clean, austere lines. That is, until you start to really examine their cyclocross bike, the Grizzly. Subtle elegance can be found in the bent Columbus Spirit HSS stays and the matte brown finish. Details that make this bike as fierce as the alpha predator from which it formed its namesake.
Oddly enough, this Czech company will be at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Louisville this week and I’m not complaining! You can see more of Repete’s work at the NAHBS Exhibitor Feature website.
There’s something so boss about an oversized titanium frame, especially with Baum‘s own unique selection. It looks like you can throw anything at it. Dirt rides down fire roads and cross races beware! This Turanti from Above Category fits the bill, right down to that blue paint and red anodized components. Check out more of this Bike of the Week at Above Category.
When the team at Pedalers Fork became a dealer for Argonaut Cycles, they needed a bike that would operate as both an advertisement and a floor model / test bike for interested clients. While I love my matte-black Argo, stealth is not the best at advertising for the brand, so Gideon at Pedalers Fork cooked up a purple, flashy, chevron-inspired design for painter Eric Dungey to get to work on.
Since this particular model will be a test bike for inquiring customers, Pedalers Fork chose the traditional seatpost spec, rather than an ISP. The result is a flashy, yet classic stance with the brand’s name in bright silver on the downtube. With a painted PRO stem, a blue King, a purple seatpost collar, Mavic 125ans wheels and Dura Ace throughout, every detail has been considered… It’ll be sure to turn heads.
Inspired by the Bel Airs of the 1950’s, this backroads Retrotec is remarkably as easy on the eyes as I’d imagine it’d be on washboarded gravel roads. With clearances for a 45mm tire, this build included hydro Di2, the new Whisky No.9 CX fork with fender mounts and one of those nifty Brooks Cambium saddles.
You’ll also spy 2 winchester shells in the bar ends, with special meaning to the owner, Matt, who works for QBP. Those shells shot his late gramps’ ashes into the woods. To further up the ante, the seat pack is one his wife’s gramps used in the Korean War to hold ammo. Matt uses these items to remind him how bad-ass his grandparents were… and it kinda puts the pain encountered while pedaling a bike into perspective.
Thanks to Marty Wood for the beautiful photos and the crew from Angry Catfish for help on the build.
We’ll be seeing this bike at NAHBS next month! Til then, check out more below!
To quote Tom Petty, “the waiting is the hardest part” and waiting for a custom frame isn’t easy by any means. Plenty of frame builders are so busy that their queue is up to over a year out. For Santa Barbara’s Stinner Frameworks, things have been slammed. New clients and a warm winter has kicked his queue into overdrive. Although, that’s not the only reason Aaron is busy. His bikes ain’t bad either!
David placed an order for a straight forward road bike 9 months ago and just picked it up. Since then, Aaron has hired extra help and reduced wait considerably.
I met David today and talked to him about his new bike a bit. Consensus: nothing but stoke! With Stinner’s Select Tubing, the bike will perform out in the hills surrounding the Pedalers Fork in Calabasas, where these photos were taken. David’s component choice round out the crazy sparkle olive paint: Force 22 and ENVE rims, matched with Thomson bits and Ritchey bars.
Ride safe, David!
When I first came across this MTB on the 44 Bikes Instagram, I immediately was reminded of a 1980’s BMX frame. Turns out, this is for a man entering his retirement in Connecticut. The client approached Kris of 44 Bikes with a few ideas of what he wanted, pointing towards specific products like a Rohloff system, as well as a few color notes, but let Kris and painter Jay Nutini take over from there. The resulting design exudes speed, despite the upright riding position.
For the long term this bike is initially for rails to trail usage and buzzing around town, but it’s infused with true 44 Bikes trail shred-technology so when the client is ready to ride single track, the bike is waiting for him.
Check out more photos below, and follow 44 Bikes on Flickr!
When South African, World Cup champion Burry Stander suffered a tragic death on a training ride in 2013, Specialized lost not only one of their riders, but one of their family members. To honor his death, they released an S-Works Epic 29r under their Specialized Projects line.
Based on their FACT World Cup geometry, this flashy frame is covered in a sparkly orange paint, adorned with African art and features a graphic inspired by the South African flag and Stander’s unique personality. The resulting product makes for an orange blur that glows in the late-afternoon sun (and is rather hard to photograph).
As far as tech is concerned, this S-Works Epic frame features a FOX/Specialized remote Mini-Brain with AUTOSAG, pushing 95mm of travel and a Rock Shox Sid Brain. Built with Sram XO1 and rolling on Roval Control SL 29 with Maxxis Ardent gumwalls set up tubeless, this thing is ready for blast off.
While I’m sure it’d take a while to truly grasp what this frame represents, Jonathan has taken quite a liking to it. All I can say is damn, look at those chain stays!
Phil runs the finishing department at Indy Fab, where recently, he was able to design, build and design the paint for his newest bike. This steel Deluxe MTB, built around a Paragon Machine Works chainstay yoke. This allows builders to have clearance for a 3″ 29er tire, along with ensuring chainrings and cranks will fit the stays, using a 68mm wide bottom bracket shell.
This Deluxe is rolling on Industry Nine hubs, Stans Hugo rims with the new Bontrager Chucacabra tires. Drivetrain is Sram X01 1×11 groupset with gripshifts and the bike is very stoppy thanks to the Avid BB7s mechanical disc brakes. Those 3″ tires fit just fine in the Bontrager carbon 29r fork, and Phil painted the Bontrager seatpost to match, along with the stem.
The color is PPG’s liquid crystal Candy Apple Red, with black on white decals. See more below!
Sometimes, it’s the unexpected that delivers the most fun. Wheel size, when it comes to mountain biking, is a polarizing topic. People will swear allegiance to the 29r platform, without a blink of an eye and admittedly, I’m one that errs on that side. Being tall with long legs, I’ve kind of sworn off 27.5 hardtails.
They’ve either felt too squirrely for me to coerce or not big enough to roll out of hairbrained situations I often find myself in. If my riding ability were to be described in a word, it certainly wouldn’t be “finesse.” I need something that offers a larger diameter to correct little nuances in my riding habits. 29rs seem to deliver that.
Like a bucking bronco, those small wheels ain’t for this limestone cowboy. Or so I thought.
As previously stated in the Highball 29r post, Santa Cruz put a lot of work into developing their new 27.5 wheelsize option. While the general look and feel of the 27.5 version is almost identical to the 29r, all it takes is a few moments on this bike, particularly while descending, to tell that it is indeed, a different beast from its larger-wheeled sibling.
Ok, maybe it’s not all that different, but there are a noticeable points.
For one, the headset. While it’s a small detail, the bottom cup is a standard, press-in on the 29r and integrated on the 27.5. Because of the smaller wheel size, the chainstays could be shortened, thus the wheelbase loses some length, as well as steepening the seat tube angle to a 72.5º. But what I noticed, almost immediately, was the slacker head tube angle.
It seems like 69º is the magic number for hardtails (I should add that the Chameleon is also a very fun bike with a 67.3º head tube). It takes them from the category of XC race-specificity and dangles them over the all-rounder, “stunt” zone.
A 69º head tube angle is just right: not too slack to drop it into the AM range, or to make climbing a battle fought with a wandering wheel, nope. It’s just slack enough to make descents a complete blast. Even with the lower stack height (604mm versus 633mm on the 29r) frame, I never felt like I was going to fly off the bike descending. For reference, I rode the XL model.
Whereas I felt a lot of apprehension to fall in love with the Highball 29r, the 27.5 was love at first flight… It just whipped around so well.
The Highball 27.5 has all the technical advancements as the 29r, it’s just in a different realm in terms of handling on descents but we’ve already discussed that. Let’s look at the frame.
With the new layup, the lines are cleaner than ever and without the external routing, you can really focus in on the body language this bike is throwing around. Even sitting still, posing for a photo, it appears to have a meaner stance than its sibling.
Granted, having ridden the rather stealth-like black and red bike with XX1, this blue frame with XTR looks a bit flashy. Although, with a price. Take note: with the ENVE wheel upgrade, suddenly you’re in the $8,799 water… Thankfully, the XT package without ENVE is only $4,299 with the CC-grade carbon.
Another great detail on the Santa Cruz Highball is the new disc caliper design and placement. This new position eliminates the need for a chainstay / seatstay bridge. Although it does make it a slight pain in the ass to adjust on the trail with a compact tool.
Now onto what seems to be the deal breaker for a lot of people, just based on internet chatter and commentary over the 29r. The 27.2 seat post. Since there are so few options for a 27.2 dropper and no cable guides or internal routing for a stealth post, you’re pretty much stuck with a Thomson dropper post and some zip ties, which is what almost everyone did on the media launch.
Personally, I can ride a 100mm hardtail just fine without a dropper, although it does add a certain amount of versatility to the bike, especially if you throw a 120mm fork on the front end.
Before to write off Santa Cruz’s decision to go with a 27.2, attempt to understand their rationale. Ever ride a standard 30.9 post for hours on end during a marathon on a hard tail? Yea, it ain’t comfy. The 27.2 diameter does allow the seat tube to be elegantly reduced, resulting in a lot more compliance, which is a good thing for your butt.
That’s really the only initial concern I felt the need to address.
With a rowdy, confident stance like that, the new and improved Santa Cruz Highball CC 27.5 drew me right in. After an afternoon descending singletrack, I was sold. Maybe XC-oriented 27.5 hardtails aren’t that bad afterall? Or maybe the Highball is just that good.
Photo by Sven Martin
If I were to chose between the two, based on ride quality alone, I’d lean more towards the 27.5, without discrediting the 29r’s confidence-aspiring ride characteristics. The stability and shredability of the 27.5 platform translates so well to the Highball and all I needed was one, 10-mile descent to change my opinion.
The Santa Cruz Highball CC XX1 starts at $6,299 ($500 cheaper than the previous model)
The Santa Cruz Highball CC XTR starts at $6,799
The Santa Cruz Highball CC XT starts at $4,299
The Santa Cruz Highball C S starts at $3,199
The Santa Cruz Highball C R starts at $2,799
The Santa Cruz Highball CC frameset is available in black or blue for $1,899.
One thing to note is the 27.5 Highball has a size small, while the 29r does not. In return, the 29r has an XXL, while the 27.5 does not.
…and for or those seeking a weight comparison…
CC carbon size M matte black w/XX1 kit: 19.61lbs / 8.89 kg
CC carbon size M matte black frame only: 2.58 lbs / 1172 g
Specs and other information can be found at Santa Cruz. You can also compare my notes to the 29r version at Shredding the All New Santa Cruz Highball CC 29r MTB.