Category Archives: Beautiful Bicycles
Austin has a certain gravity. It attracts cyclists of all wheel types and for Matt, he wasn’t drawn here for the road cycling, or mountain biking. Matt began his experience with the bicycle on a BMX. He’s from Australia and Austin has always been the mecca for BMXing in the US. His friends here range from pros to companies like T-1, where he stays while in town.
It wasn’t until a surf trip in Mexico a while back where he finally got a bicycle. If you’d call it that. A clapped-out rig took him for hundreds of miles to visit a friend before he finally realized what he wanted in a bike. Later, a custom Bilenky allowed him to tow his surfboard on trips and the touring hook was set.
Fast forward a few years and Matt wanted to do something on his own. Since he’s not a framebuilder, he met up with a friend who’s dad was. They began talking about cycling and what it meant to Matt before drafting up a CAD drawing and getting a few prototypes made overseas. Crust Bikes was born. Sort of. Still incubating, this company right now spreads the stoke over Instagram, where Matt shares his travels and sells small items like patches, bottles and trucker caps.
Matt hopes to be building frames here in the States, under the welder of an experienced builder up in the North East. His first model would be this Evasion touring bike. Built for 26+ (Knard 3″), 650b or 700c wheels, the Evasion has the clearance and the confidence for everything from a sub 24 hour camping trip to full on excursion style riding.
I caught up with Matt last week and shot some photos of this unique rig. Built with a Rohloff, it’s virtually maintenance free. The Swift Industries bags, Brooks Saddle and other companents tell a tale through their patina. One that you too can follow along at @AFewSketchyMoments and @Crustbikes on Instagram
If you can’t tell, the “sickness” has spilled over into the weekend. I hope you’re all out riding and soaking in the summer sunshine. More on this bike next week!
Last week, Mellow Johnny’s had the great pleasure of hosting a frame builder’s happy hour that showcased the work of five local bicycle artisans. With so many talented frame builders in the immediate Austin area, it only makes sense to get them out of their work sheds and together for a party. Icarus, Chumba, Kirklee, Paramour, and Saila all descended upon the shop for a night where they could showcase their work and talk to established fans as well as potential clients.
The energy was rambunctious. Halfway through the night, I found myself surrounded by over 100 people who were enjoying beer, friends, and the company of some beautiful bicycles. The amount of “oh’s” and “ah’s” were uncountable. From someone marveling over the beautiful weld work of Lauren from Saila to an in-depth conversation about carbon frame repair with KirkLee, there was something for all tastes. The amount of support and admiration that was had for these humble local builders was a testament to the tight-knit and passionate community that is evident in Austin’s cycling community.
For myself, the highlight of the night was hanging out with the fellas of Chumba Cycles. After talking with them about their home base right down the road from Pace Bend State Park and witnessing their love of beer, it was clear these guys loved to shred and loved to have a good time. The coolest bike they brought was a fully loaded 29+ rig called the Ursa 29+. Able to fit a 3.0 inch tire, the Ursa is clearly a bike that has the potential to handle just about any terrain you could throw at it. Three bottle cages and the ability to run a Singlespeed, 1x, or 2x set up leads to extreme versatility and the option for fully loaded camping or an afternoon shred session at your favorite local trails. The Ursa they brought was outfitted with their Zulu series bags for handlebar, stem, seat, and frame. Vince from Chumba shared with me his story about taking the bike to Ecuador for a 7-day bikepacking trip from Cotapaxi to Chimborazo and all I could think about for the rest of the night was the plan for my next bikepacking trip!
All in all, the event was a huge success. Good times were had, there was much “nerding out” on bikes, and many Topo Chicos and beers were consumed. If you have a local frame builder in your town and you’re looking for your next bike, it’s so important to see what they have to offer. Check out a few more photos below and see the full gallery at Mellow Johnny’s.
I don’t know what’s more impressive. Winter’s bicycles, or the names Eric comes up with for them. “Picholine” are olives originally from the south of France. The classic era French city bikes have always interested Eric from Winter Bicycles, so when a client requested a commuter, he looked to them for inspiration, while picking up a few modern details. Fenders, generator lamp, racks and other elegant elements adding to the beauty and functionality of utilitarian bicycles. (more…)
Ride in Peace Jacob Smoller: A Tribute Jacobs Track Bike
Photos by Kyle Kelley and words by Billy Sinkford
Preface: Jacob Smoller recently passed away in Boston. Coinciding with this unfortunate event, Kyle came across a Jacobs track bike in Los Angeles. To celebrate Jacob’s life and work, we reached out to Billy Sinkford, a good friend of Jacob to write a memorial piece:
Try Harder. That was Jacob Smoller’s motto. His creed. Jacob would have turned thirty a few weeks ago and passed just a few days before his birthday. He was a Boston bike messenger, frame builder, beloved member of the international messenger family, and urban cycling community at large.
Be it music, racing, building bikes or riding them, Jacob was an artist with a strong creative drive. His commitment to the cycling community even stronger. Over the past 10 years Jacob had a hand in organizing countless cycling events and races, all with the emphasis on fun and inclusion, he was happiest bringing folks together.
Jacob loved this community, he loved bikes, and he loved Boston. Try Harder, never settle and give your all. He gave everything to the messenger community, his friends and family and we will miss him all the more for it. As everyone does, Jacob had his demons. It’s important to remember our friend for the light that he shined and not the shadow that he cast. He was a beautiful man who didn’t ask of anyone and stood tall with his decisions.
Jacob and I met over a decade ago during my transition from messenger life in Boston. I had some of the best times of my life with him, late night antics, exploring the country by bike, and candid conversations over the years. He is a friend that I hold close and his loss has rocked my world. I miss him with all my heart, ride safe my friend. I will miss our talks.
Follow Kyle on Instagram and Billy on Instagram.
What do you do when an accomplished athlete backs you on a gamble and encourages you to do something different. Something that might change the face of “all-road” cycling forever? Or at least for a little while anyway…
The story of the bike goes back to March in 2014, when Tim Johnson and his wife Lyne were riding in Louisville along the bourbon trail. David from Cannondale put one of these bikes under Tim and watched the atavism take over. Tim hit every curb cut in sight, skidded around corners and sprinted like he was riding his EVO… Tim’s a cross racer through and through, so dirt and speed are his top priorities. Oh and fun. Having fun too. Right Tim?
I can’t even begin to explain how stoked I am to see this. Turns out, this bike was from last April, a few weeks before the Urban Racer’s launch. So amazing! Head over to the All-City blog to read about this unique customer-customized Nature Boy Zona!
From the backcountry of Alberta, Canada to the Italian countryside…
It’s been a whirlwind month here at the Radavist and so before this beaut gets lost on a hoard drive, I really wanted to share it. This bike was owned by Emilio De Marchi and still resides in their storefront which has been here since 1951. The frame itself is from the early 1960’s and is labeled under the brand’s name De Marchi. This cruiser was made in the same town as their garments from a small time builder of which no one could remember his name.
Over the years, it got updated with a more modern mix of parts including Campagnolo GS and NR. Most impressive to me are the droves of old Italian men who ride bikes like this in Conegliano, where the bicycle is the way of life for many people.
Without getting too far ahead of myself here, I have to admit the giddiness flowing through my veins at the moment. I’m in Banff, Alberta at the start of the Tour Divide Race, arguably one of the most intense self-supported off-road races. I’m here with Salsa Cycles, and while we’re not doing the entire TDR, we are riding a three-day section of the race. Why? Because Salsa has supported racers and riders in the TDR for years and all the time and energy put into supporting athletes who train for to events like this has culminated in a bike that’s just being launched.
At this point, if you’re even reading this still and haven’t sprung right into clicking through the gallery images, I need to point out that Salsa champions the drop-bar off-road touring and racing bike. They love the hand positions, the unique stance and the options for drivetrains. That said, over the years, they’ve perfected what is arguably their best “all-road”, dirt-tourer: the Cutthroat.
As I’m pedaling away from Mellow Johnny’s on Ben’s bike to photograph it, I couldn’t help but try to think of some clever way to describe it or at least the back-story. These days, custom paint is divided into a few categories with the most prominent being either high-concept or merely aesthetic. Truthfully, I’m not sure where this one sits on that spectrum.
When I look at this orange, yellow and black steed, it reminds me of some menagerie. It was painted by Dustin at Violet Crown Finishing in Austin, Texas. Close my eyes. Open them. I see a koi fish. Or a tiger. Moreseo, a koi though. Perhaps it’s the sparkles? Tigers don’t have sparkles. Was that Dustin’s inspiration? Who knows. Ben, the owner (a mechanic at MJ’s) has a lot of traditional Japanese tattoos.
When you ride a bike like the Specialized Crux, it’s hard to stand out from the other fish on the field. They’re literally a dime a dozen. Affordable, performance-minded, lightweight and they look great, right out of the box. Sometimes though, you want something a little more flashy, without springing for a custom frame.
The frame was a cheap pickup, actually a trade. The Giant wheels came from a friend, for free. The rest of the parts were scrapped from a free bin, save for the Pro cockpit and post. I don’t want to tell you how much money Ben has invested in this frame, because it’ll make you mad. That and his friend Dustin wanted to really paint a bike.
You don’t need to go custom to have the custom experience. Painters are just as talented as builders and they have the ability to transform even a bike like the Specialized Crux into something that will truly stand out from the other fish in the school.
Case in point… wow.