Category Archives: Beautiful Bicycles
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.
Lugged, exceptional paint and a classic stance with modern technology propelling it onto banked roads. Henry’s road bike is a elegant example of the work Chris Bishop is capable of. See more at the Bishop Flickr!
Niner’s ROS 9+ One Hell of a Good Time
Words and photos by Kyle Kelley
The White Rim Trail in Utah’s Canyonlands NP has been on my radar for awhile. I imagined I would do it on a cross bike, carrying only the necessary food and water, one small camera and riding from the early morning to early evening. The reality ended up being quite a bit different. I rolled out on a Mid-Fat outfitted with custom bike bags, carrying 7 liters of water and enough food to feed a kindergarten class for two days! Shit… I even brought an abnormally large camera (at least for me) in addition to my standard point and shoot just because there was still room in the bags. I was rolling in luxury and the bike that made that possible was the Niner ROS 9+!
If any city merits a good, solid track bike or singlespeed, it’s London. The traffic is like an organism. Sometimes predatory, othertimes symbiotic. It’ll swallow you whole, or let you surf the wave of continuous flow. Die-hard fixed gear and track bike riders will sing their bike’s praises in these conditions, while guys like Charlie will take all that and run a different direction.
Charlie is the owner of Seabass Cycles. He’s had this Ted James Design ESB, or extra strong bike for a few years as a fixed gear. The premise behind these frames was to take a track geometry and tweak it with a few BMX or MTB influences: bigger tire clearances, gussets and body language.
In the world of beausage and bicycles, you’d be hard pressed to find a better catalyst than a street-racing track bike. Or even a bike messenger’s work horse. When you combine the two…
This Legor Cicli track bike was first featured here back in 2011 at NAHBS in Austin. Originally owned by John Taki and was just recently passed down to Chas, it’s seen its share of street wear and tear. Fit with Omnium cranks, a 44RN camo chainring and Essor wheels, it has the mean stance of a race machine, with a lot of that special pista patina we’ve all come to admire.
Chas was in London to do a panel with Oakley at their In Residence space, so in-between his busy schedule, I took this bike outside to document it. There’s something special about a track bike in a city like London… and I love it! Oh and that cup in the spokes? Chas didn’t want to litter when he finished his beer.