Category Archives: Beautiful Bicycles
Carter’s Glitter Dreams Straggler – Morgan Taylor
Carter's Glitter Dreams Straggler – Morgan Taylor

Photos and words by Morgan Taylor.

In the time we spent in Los Angeles, Carter’s Straggler was one of the bikes in for service at GSC. Now, as a bit of a background, the Glitter Dreams paint on the first year Straggler was actually part of the inspiration for the builds that ended up becoming our Wolverines. So when I first saw Carter’s bike leaning against the wall waiting for its turn in the service queue, with its pink King hubs and purple valve stems, it had already caught my eye.

Then, the work began. One day, the Straggler was hanging out with the new Sim Works Homage 43c tires in that throwback green. Whoa! I immediately deemed it a clown bike – not in a bad way, but in the way that there was no way this thing would come together in a subdued and complementary fashion. It was going to stand out, that was for sure. (more…)

Sep 16, 2016 38 comments
Bang for Your Buck: the Ritchey Timberwolf 27.5 Hardtail MTB
Bang for Your Buck: the Ritchey Timberwolf 27.5 Hardtail MTB - Photo by Kyle Kelley

When I first saw this frameset, I was in love. Why? Well, when a company like Ritchey makes a hardtail mountain bike that only a few months prior was something you had to order from a framebuilder, you know they’re paying attention. Before the Timberwolf, Ritchey’s mountain bike offerings were built with cross-country geometries. Personally, I like slack front ends and longer travel forks. They still climb great but the difference in descending is noticeable, especially after getting bucked for hours on end while riding our Southern California trails. Yeah, the Timberwolf is a new breed of mountain bikes, from a company founded by one of the forefathers of the sport. The best part is, you can get rowdy on this bike for hundreds less than a custom frame.

At $899, the Timberwolf comes as a frame with bright orange paint and classic Ritchey logos. Or you can buy it complete, as equipped here for $3,499 (minus the dropper post.) When people email me asking what mountain bike frame they should start out with, if buying used isn’t an option, I point them to the Timberwolf. Why? Let me break it down… (more…)

Sep 14, 2016 68 comments
Golden Saddle Rides: Nils’ Brown Bantam 650b Tourer
Golden Saddle Rides: Nils' Brown Bantam 650b Tourer

Nils had a beloved Chumba 29+ mountain bike that he rode everywhere. Road rides, mountain rides, social rides, it didn’t matter. He pedaled that bike all over Los Angeles. Then one day he got hit by a car and the Chumba was beyond repair. After insurance money came in, he was on the hunt for a new bike. Something that would be able to tackle easy mountain singletrack and still be nimble enough to ride on the road as well.

Then he found Bantam Bicycle Works, located in Portland and was hooked. He loved the way Bob built his bikes and contacted him for a 650b tourer, with clearance for the Compass Switchback Hill 48mm tires. All the minutia was handled and the final details were decided, save for one. The head badge. At the time Bob was making head badges of various animals for his bike. Nils chose a goat, because, goats are metal.

The guys at Golden Saddle Cyclery helped Nils with the product selection, including White Industries, a SON hub, specially polished 650b Blunt SS rims and working out how to make the SRAM shifters work with the front and rear derailleur.

As I’m sure your eyes have noted the lack of the front derailleur. There’s a story there. After some problem solving, the guys at the shop realized they needed a specific derailleur, which would require a shim at the clamp, prompting Bob to machine one up. At the time, Nils was just shifting by hand while the shim was being made and since then, the bike’s been completed. I just liked the vibes from this photo shoot and didn’t want to redo it.

Nils has taken this bike all over California and then some. It’s been the best all ’rounder for him on his journeys and I can’t wait to see where he goes next!

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Follow Nils on Instagram, Bantam on Instagram and if you want a custom build like this and live in Los Angeles, hit up Golden Saddle Cyclery.

Sep 13, 2016 49 comments
Second Spin Cycles’ 1985 Yeti Built and Sold by John Parker
A 1985 Yeti Built and Sold by John Parker

Second Spin Cycles’ 1985 Yeti Built and Sold by John Parker
Photos by John Watson and words by Martin Kozaczek

Unless you’ve lived in a cave for the past 30 years you’ve probably heard of Yeti Cycles. Not much has changed in that time. The bikes are still turquoise and still made to go fast. Yeti has always stuck to its foundation in racing, and the alumni roster reads like a list on the wall in the Hall of Fame, with names like Tomac, Furtado and Graves just to name a few. Yeti outlasted most of its competition during those years as their bikes have evolved only enough to ensure they are as fast as their racers. Unlike some bike companies that either don’t embrace their past and culture or don’t have one to really rally around, Yeti is all about their history and more importantly, their tribe. If you’ve been to their HQ or one of their annual Tribe gatherings you’re likely to see some of the more significant bikes from their past. That lineup is soon to be joined by the bike featured here, which is the first Yeti ever sold!!! The story goes a little something like this. John Parker bought out the tooling for 26” BMX “Motocruiser” stalwart Bicycle Bob Wilson and his Sweetheart Cycles brand, and welded up 3-5 bikes. Needing a new name to distinguish his new bike from a Motocruiser, he chose Yeti, named after a sleeping bag he liked. This is the first bike he sold under the Yeti name from the storefront window of Emily K’s bicycle clothing store in Santa Barbara, CA. It was purchased by a young woman who owned it until just a couple years ago when a chance encounter with John at a motorcycle show reunited the bike with its maker. (more…)

Sep 12, 2016 12 comments
Bob’s Black Mountain Cycles Basket Bike Commuter
Bob's Black Mountain Cycles Basket Bike Commuter

There’s a bigger story to be told here, mostly surrounding Black Mountain Cycles’ owner Mike Varley and his history not only regarding bicycle design, but also his impact on the Point Reyes community as a whole. I figured this Beautiful Bicycle gallery would serve as a segue to that in the future. For now, let’s chat about this bike…

Point Reyes is a beautiful coastal town in Northern California on the Adventure Cycling Association’s Pacific Coast route and is a bastion of bicycle-friendly roads, trails and tracks. Because of its plentiful offerings in terms of riding routes, Black Mountain Cycles emerged, catering to not only the wayward bicycle tourist, but also locals and SF weekend warriors looking to get their feet dusty.

Black Mountain caters to all forms of roads, but enjoys riding dirt the most, which is why their in-house frame company will always fit a bit bigger of a tire, even when it comes to their “road” frameset. Their Road V3 frame fits a 33mm tire with ease, while offering up the option for either downtube mounted barrel adjusters with road shifters or retro downtube shifters. These frames are made overseas but are affordable, meant for everything from dirt road rides to centuries and even, as evident by Bob’s build here, commuter setups.

Bob’s Black Mountain tackles all the necessities: a SON generator hub, a Wald basket for transporting work clothes, a nice, supple tire and a comfortable riding position. While the frame itself might be production, Bob’s custom build shows character and utilitarianism we all can identify with. For those wanting a little more cushion for their rides, Black Mountain also offers a Cross V5 frameset, as well as the Cameron Falconer-made MUSA frames!

As I said before, hopefully this isn’t the last you hear of Black Mountain on the site, because this story needs to be told!

Sep 9, 2016 49 comments
The 44 Bikes Marauder is Still Shredding
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Photo by Morgan Taylor

In between reviewing mountain bikes, I still get to ride some of my own from time to time. After reviewing the 44 Bikes Marauder, I decided to buy the frame from Kris and built it up with MTB parts I had laying around, which resulted in a really rad build. Every time I throw my leg over this bike, I’m always smiling ear to ear, even if I look serious in this shot. Thanks to Kris for making such shred-worthy bikes!

This spot is my favorite dive in LA!

Sep 9, 2016 15 comments
Elliot’s Sklar 27.5+ Hardtail – Morgan Taylor
Elliot's Sklar 27.5+ Hardtail – Morgan Taylor

One of the highlights of our time in Bozeman with Adam Sklar was being able to see not one, but two complete bikes come back from powdercoat and be delivered to their new owners. I already posted a gallery of Sam’s powder blue 29er, on which he then rode a good chunk of the Colorado Trail in what I take to be quite inclement conditions.

The other bike to be delivered is one that you probably noticed in yesterday’s gallery from Sklar’s shop. This gleaming white 27.5+ hardtail was commissioned by a customer from Sklar’s home state of Colorado. Elliot is a former downhill and 4x racer with what sounded like a fairly big set of dirt jumps in his front yard. (more…)

Sep 8, 2016 7 comments
Death Spray Custom and Stanridge Speed Volume 2 – Jason Sellers
Death Spray Custom and Stanridge Speed Volume 2

Death Spray Custom and Stanridge Speed Volume 2
Photos by Jason Sellers and words by John Watson

Back in 2012, Adam Eldridge from Stanridge Speed was obsessing over the Red Hook Crit and the unique form of track bike evolving from these races. Unlike traditional track frames who only make left turns in a velodrome, the design of track crit frames need to be more dynamic. You’ve got to be able to pedal through all corners, even chicanes and do so with dozens of other racers around you. As a result, many of the track crit frames rely on steeper angles and higher bottom brackets for increased maneuverability. As we’ve seen in the past, it takes a bit of luck and a lot of skill to make it through one of these crits unscathed, not to mention winning a few back to back.

That’s where Adam’s interest piqued. Dan Chabanov had been on a winning streak and Adam wanted to put a Stanridge under him. The two were connected, via Squid, an OG bike messenger in New York and they began working together. Knowing this would be a big deal, Adam reached out to David at Death Spray Custom to make the project extra special. The rest is history, and David’s paint design made for an interesting story. Adam even got a matching kit made from a sales rack Voler skinsuit he then sublimated the design upon. (more…)

Sep 2, 2016 10 comments
Bikepacking the Huascarán Circuit – Ryan Wilson
Thawing out in the Andean sun

Bikepacking the Huascarán Circuit
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson

Last time I was in Peru, the main focus of the trip was centered around circling the highest mountain in the country, Nevado Huascarán. The route has that perfect combination of spectacular scenery, challenge, and culture, so I knew I’d have a hard time resisting going for it again on my way south this time. The fact that the forecast called for clear skies the whole time sealed the deal. Last time I was here, the mountains were engulfed in rain clouds virtually the entire time, so I never really got to see many of the massive glacial peaks that dominate the route. (more…)

Aug 31, 2016 28 comments