Category Archives: Beautiful Bicycles
Erik’s Sparkle Abyss: the Custom Skid Sled
Erik's Sparkle Abyss: the Custom Skid Sled

If a beast were to crawl its way out of the Abyss, only to find itself mutated into a two-wheeled, human-powered machine, it might look like this thing. When I first saw it in person, with the Supernova light dangling from the stem, I was reminded of a Deep Sea Anglerfish. A fish that spends its life in complete darkness, only illuminating its path with a luminescent organ called the esca at the tip of a modified dorsal ray. Could that be this bike’s spirit animal?

Erik works at the big, bad S. He’s a designer for the AWOL and other excursion-oriented bicycles. He made this bike as a special project for his plans on taking on the SF-area’s Super Brevet Series. Initially, he wanted a bike that would fit a 45mm slick 700c tire, with a tighter geometry than the AWOL and a tapered headtube, mated to a carbon fork. He spec’d the main tubes from a stock AWOL with the geometry more like a cross bike, milled a head tube to spec and used a Secteur fork for its rack attachments. While the AWOL is a dedicated touring bike, this is closer to a light-tourer or randonneur. So, in short, this is a one-off custom, made in the USA bike that gave Erik the ability to test out a few concepts.

The bars have an aero shape, there’s a Supernova AWOL switch in the bar end from the EVO project. The tires are prototype, made especially for muddy trails. There’s even a custom-milled stem cap that holds a USB battery but what puts this bike back into the Abyss is the sparkle, glitter fade paint, which Erik applied himself.

As with most concepts, ideas Erik used to create this one might trickle down the Specialized product line at some point, but don’t hold your breath. Unless you’re an Anglerfish.

Dec 8, 2015 94 comments
Ace’s Cannondale Boogie Track
Ace's Cannondale Boogie Track

Boogie woogie bugle boy. Boogie on your bicycle, boogie to the party. Ace Boogie gets around, man.

Ace is the Sleepers, a one man video production outfit in Los Angeles. You’ve surely seen his work on this site, right?

His Cannondale track has seen various permutations, as these things tend to do. The ones that are actually ridden, anyway. From drops to risers and now a super simple city bar, Ace’s bike has finally hit that sweet spot for cruising around Los Angeles. I’m pretty sure Kyle shot photos of it a few years back, yet I can’t dig anything up. Some notable notes: the off-center head badge, Phil Wood hubs, Sugino cranks, loved and weathered Flite with one of those damn hot Salsa stems.

Dec 7, 2015 20 comments
Swear to Shred the 44 Bikes Marauder Hardtail 29’r
Swear to Shred the 44 Bikes Marauder Hardtail 29'r

As a Radavist, I swear to shred and recently that word’s been used a lot in terms of bike reviews. Shredding doesn’t imply you’re the fastest, or the best at hucking, it’s subjective, dependent upon your skill level and the trails you ride. Here in Southern California, the landscape is arid, exposed, rocky, rutted and loose. Having a nice and nimble bicycle underneath you aids in that ever-elusive atavistic urge to play.

Hardtails are my favorite form of mountain bike. Sure, there’s a time and a place for a full sus, when the trails are steep and technical, just like there’s a time and a place for a rigid, when you want to hone in your skills like a sharpened battle axe. Having just gotten my Rosko 29r dialed into what I would consider perfection, I was a bit hesitant to take on anymore hardtail reviews.

Then Kris from 44 Bikes up in New Hampshire came knocking at my inbox with a proposal. He’d build me a Marauder 29r to demo, Fox, SRAM, Thomson, WTB, RaceFace, Industry Nine, ENVE would supply the goods and I’d get to try it out for an extended review. Nice! What’s the catch? Well, when you review a bike and you like it so much, you might just end up wanting to buy it. Dowhhh… (more…)

Dec 2, 2015 28 comments
Sven Cycles: Forager Cargo Bike
SvenCycles

After seeing Nils’ cargo bike roll out with a camp grill at a recent LA River Camp Coffee, suddenly the idea of utilizing a bike like that for over-the-top forest picnics has piqued my interest. Here’s Sven Cycles‘ take on that platform. Tested thoroughly over the course of a few months, this bike was designed and built specifically for a local chef and as you can see, is really capable of hauling everything you need for an afternoon meal in the woods.

Projects like this, especially when they come from the shop of a framebuilder, really make me happy!

Dec 2, 2015 16 comments
1994 Fat Chance Shock-A-Billy Full Suspension MTB
1994 Fat Chance Shock-A-Billy Full Suspension

This one’s a strange bird for sure. 1994 brought about a sea change in the mountain bike industry. The world was abuzz with full suspension bikes and suddenly manufacturers like Fat City Cycles found their hands forced to embrace this new technology. It was this year that Fat Chance joined forces with Serotta in New York. This manufacturing move allowed bikes like the Shock-A-Billy to be born, as well as increased production in the standard lineup including: a Ti Fat, Buck Shaver, Yo Eddy, Wicked Lite and the brand’s road bike, the Slim Chance. These frames featured quad butting, an aluminum AMP rear swingarm providing 2.75″ of travel and an optional Rock Shox Mag 21 fork.

How bikes like this survive for over 20 years and remain mostly intact continues to baffle me. Especially with builds like this: Ringle skewers, WTB VelociRaptor tires, White Industry hubs, Moto Ace Salsa stem, Syncros post and a working Shimano XTR group.

Fat City Cycles suffered a fatal blow in 2000, only to return in 2014 with a new plan… They’re back and you can own a modern Fat City.

As for vintage Fat City, if you really wanna go down the Fat City rabbit hole, read up at Mombat!

Dec 1, 2015 16 comments
Erica’s Moth Attack CX Team Bike
Erica's Moth Attack CX Team Bike

These frames. These freaking frames. Godzilla doesn’t have a chance against Moth Attack. With a little help from Black Magic Paint, Megan Dean’s new ‘cross team’s bikes are some of the most beautiful team bikes I’ve had the pleasure of documenting. We saw a frameset at the Portland Bike and Beer Festival, but this is the first complete I’ve seen in person and I’m glad it’s Erica Schwanke‘s! She’s a super rad woman and has been enjoying racing ‘cross in the Bay Area this season on this bike.

I caught up with Erica last week in Los Angeles, prior to the UCI race in Long Beach and stole her bike for a few minutes for photos. I love seeing people’s reactions to custom bikes like this! Enjoy…

Nov 25, 2015 20 comments
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 219 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