Category Archives: Beautiful Bicycles
This project came out so good and I’m stoked to see Raleigh use a US-builder!
“During the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Vails earned a silver medal in the individual track sprint. Two versions of this bike are now available: the Cheetah, a modernized version of Vails’ 1984 race bike, and the Cheetah Race, a lighter, more aggressive and aerodynamic version.
“The Raleigh brand has a rich and deep heritage that spans over 130 years,” said Steve Westover, Raleigh’s director of marketing. “We felt it was time to celebrate our heritage with a series of projects. Our collaboration with Nelson Vails and Don Walker epitomizes that.””
See more at Raleigh!
Turquoise can be a beautiful color, in the right context and while this bike was born and has spent most of its life in Bozeman, Montana, it really came alive in Moab, Utah with all of its red rock cliffs and invasive dust. Katie and Steve (that shredder dude from all of our riding reportage) are good friends with Adam Sklar. Steve’s shop, Altar Cycles, is adjacent to Sklar‘s workspace and Katie runs a local sports massage company. Together, they’re an inspiring couple who can hold their own on mountain bikes. I won’t even get into the meal they cooked up for us on our last night in Moab…
Katie’s Sklar is a 27.5 hardtail, built with Race Face, RockShox, Pro2 EVO hubs and some good n grippy Maxxis rubber. After riding for a few days on such amazing trails, I can tell Katie knows how to jive with this bike. Hopefully I can make it to Bozeman this summer to shred their local trails.
These days, the options for a touring bike are plentiful, especially when tapping into the framebuilding community. Yet, many of these US-made frames will set you back thousands of dollars. For people who can’t quite drop over $2,000 on a frame, Crust Bikes offers up the Dreamer. With clearances for 2.2″ 27.5″ tires with fenders, tons of braze-ons for extra bottles, a steel fork and lightweight tubing, these Dreamer frames are made right here in Los Angeles and come in at $1,450, painted. This is not a heavy duty touring bike, it’s a lighter, zippier version of the Crust Evasion.
Having watched Darren, the builder of these frames, shred the shit out of this bike, I’m sold. Sign me up. If you’d like a Dreamer, head to Crust Bikes for more information. They’re expecting these framesets any day now.
Each year when NAHBS rolls around, many builders use the opportunity to build themselves a new bike. This year was Curtis Inglis‘ time for a new hardtail. Over the years, Curtis has experimented with the Funduro model, altering the bottom bracket drop and angles ever-so-slightly to dial in what he feels like is the ultimate hardtail geometry. As a pretty tall dude, he decided to give the 29+ platform a spin, resulting in a bike with a large stance and aggressive geometry.
Over the past few days, Curtis has been riding this show bike and not exactly babying it. He’s got one of those new White Industries headsets on the bike, along with White hubs, cranks and a Paul stem, PIKE fork, XTR rear mech, with a Thomson dropper.
I’m in Moab, Utah with a handful of framebuilders and will be previewing their NAHBS offerings leading up to the event…
Fans of the Rebel Alliance would know that paint scheme without even reading the title. Ted Lincoln is an artist, one that paints scenes from the Star Wars Universe using mother of pearl in what he calls “Mother of Pearl Art.” Ted has been officially endorsed by George Lucas and has gained quite the traction amongst the Star Wars fans. Traction like a 27.5+ tire on sandstone! It just so happened that before Ted was big, Jeremy Sycip knew him in San Francisco, so for this year’s NAHBS, he asked Ted to paint his own personal hardtail for the show. What you’re seeing here is Ted’s first ever mother of pearl bicycle art.
Even as a photographer who loves challenges, this bike was particularly hard to document without my studio light setup allowing me to make the details pop out, but then again shooting bikes in Moab > shooting bikes in a convention center…
Coming up with names for all these bikes can be daunting at times. I try to ask myself a few questions, ranging from, “what was the owner’s motivation for commissioning the bike?” “is there already a nomenclature established?” and most importantly, “what are people in the comments going to say?” In a few cases, the names are the by-product of a joint “safety meeting” or a string of texts like with Benedict’s 2020 S-Works Fuse Ultra Baja Buggie. Over the past few months, there have been a lot of 27.5+ hardtails, moonlighting as bikepacking rigs on the site and simply labeling David’s Curtlo as another isn’t 100% honest.
You see, it isn’t just a 27.5+ hardtail. David contacted Curtlo while he was living in Seattle to build a bikepacking mountain bike. He wanted extra braze-ons, clearance for 3″ tires and a geometry that can accommodate an extra 30lbs of gear on his bike. It wasn’t until getting down to brass tactics that Curtlo engineered the frame to take a beating while loaded, and keep on ticking. Kinda like how you can be really drunk and fall, only to get up the next morning unscathed.
Curtlo added gussets, used resilient tubing and ensured the geometry would be perfect for David, who as you might have guessed, isn’t the tallest human being. There’s even a hidden internal dropper post sheath in the bottom bracket. Packing all this into a frame, while still having the ability to fit water bottles for normal shred sessions was important for David. Making the bike work for its intended usage and more was mandatory for Curtlo, who used this opportunity to design his first 27.5+ bike.
David’s componentry choices with Hadley Hubs and a NSB chainring were a breath of fresh air with all the King and Wolf Tooth I photograph and the bike’s color and stance showed that Curtlo makes rockin’ mountain bikes.
Ok, so much for teasers, these are the full monty. This is the latest disc road from Stanridge Speed, featuring Reynolds wheels. I can’t wait to photograph this and more NAHBS bikes next month!
Are you guys sick of seeing the “+” sign after wheel size standards? Ok, I didn’t think so. While the mountain bike industry tries to re-align itself on the topic of wheel sizes and tire widths, the rest of us are busy experimenting with tire spec, chainstay length, and bottom bracket drop. Out in Montana, Adam Sklar has some opinions about the aforementioned design options. Slacker, lower and longer bikes tend to enjoy going downhill faster and offer more stability at those speeds. All of which is particularly helpful when encountering a rock garden or chunky section of trail. Many of those design points that apply in Montana, apply in Los Angeles, where our trails are rocky, steep and our descents last for well over an hour at times.
Colin got this bike when he lived in Bozeman. Adam built him a pretty standard Sklar 27.5+ hardtail, and Colin spec’d the parts. Lining the beautiful desert tan frame are a slew of purple anodized components, including i9 hubs, Hope rotors, Twenty Six stem and collar. Keeping the front from buckin’ around too much is a 140mm Rock Shox Pike and Maxxis 3″ tires. Those rims? Cheapo Chinese carbon from eBay. Colin’s view on those are if carbon wheels are going to break after a few seasons, why not go with a cheaper alternative? He’s got the front laced to a SON hub for night riding in the mountains and is using SRAM XX1 with one of those trippy Wolf Tooth rings.
This bike is a beast and I can’t wait to shred with its owner and creator next week in Moab before NAHBS engulfs this website. If you’d like to read Colin’s review of it, head over to the Sklar Blog!
In preparation for NAHBS, I like to crank up my framebuilder observation scope, resulting in obsessive Instagram stalking of my favorite builders, even if they’re not attending the show. If you were to ask me the number one challenge builders are presented with currently, in terms of construction techniques, my answer would be swift and without hesitation: 27.5+ yokes. Designing a yoke that will clear the tire, maintain optimal chainline and allow the use of a range of ring sizes is not easy. The issue is sometimes you’ve only got millimeters to spare and while machining or casting a yoke would be an easy solution, you sacrifice weight. If you use normal chainstays and crimp to allow clearance, you weaken those points considerably. A few builders have cleverly designed their solutions. My current favorite is Cameron Falconer, who uses plate steel at the drive side and a normal, bent stay on the non-drive side. The asymmetry doesn’t bother me, yet when I see this design by Konga Bicycles, my mouth begins to water. Check out more at the Konga Flickr!
Ok, maybe you can call it a ‘cross bike, because that’s truly what it is at its roots. Before we get ahead of ourselves here, let’s take a step back. There are stigmas attached with the words “commuter” “city” “townie” and even “cross” bike. There are certain checklists that apply to each of those permutations. The most notable being fender and rack provisions. Even with the latter, “cross” purists want drop bars and 32mm tires for a bike to be true to its UCI roots. This bike has no provisions for racks or fenders, is sold with a 40mm tire, flat bars and a bell. It’s not as much as it is. It is whatever you want it to be. (more…)