Category Archives: Reportage
MinneCycle 2017: Northern Frameworks All Road with Dura Ace – Jarrod Bunk

MinneCycle 2017: Northern Frameworks All Road with Dura Ace
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk

I first heard of Northern Frameworks when it was just a whisper. Josh from Angry Catfish and Alex from A-Train Cycles decided to team up for a new custom frame brand to be sold in-house at the shop. The first time I saw one in person I was stoked: custom made steel bikes that keep the Twin Cities proud.

Northern Frameworks produces a bike with clean lines, tailored fit, and brilliant paint. The build on this bike is just as good as the aesthetic though, sporting Dura Ace 9100 series components, painted to match fenders, pewter Chris King headset and an ENVE cockpit. Those Derby rims laced to White Industries CLD hubs, hand built by Haute Bacon, tie it all together. The internally routed hydraulic line is extremely clean and the T47 BB keeps this bike somewhat future proof should the owner choose to build it differently down the road.

A bike like this screams versatility (with an inside voice), as it’s not overbearing in any way, but can tackle several different types of riding pretty well. I can’t wait to get back to Minneapolis to see more from these guys.  For more info check out Northern Frameworks.

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Follow Jarrod on Instagram and follow Northern Frameworks on Instagram.

 

Jun 21, 2017 8 comments
MinneCycle 2017: Vincent Dominguez Cycles Not So Mellow, Yellow Disc Road- Jarrod Bunk

MinneCycle 2017 : Vincent Dominguez Cycles Not So Mellow, Yellow Disc Road
Photos and words by Jarrod Bunk

After I hopped off the plane and a short ride to MinneCycle 5, Minnesota’s handmade bicycle show, I waited out the harsh light and 90 degree temps outside by checking out the show inside.  One of the first bikes was this Dominguez. I wasn’t super familiar with Dominguez, but soon after observing this bike I wanted to be.

There is nothing mellow about this yellow bike, especially when you look closely, which I did!  The fully lined, internal cable routing, with some beautiful entry points into the frame, is what drew me in closer. Once I was there, I noticed things like the logo-less DT Swiss hubs, Campagnolo Chorus build – but most of all the frame details.

The mixture of fillet brazing and lugs to me was just the right amount of both. The way they integrate into the frame elegantly so as to not take away from each other really caught my eye. Scalloped seatstays and the slightly offset front brake housing – so as to not rub the headtube – were the final nails in this killer build. Check out Dominguez Cycles for more.

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Follow Jarrod on Instagram.

Jun 21, 2017 7 comments
Stephanie’s Blacked Out 650B Straggler – Morgan Taylor

Stephanie’s Blacked Out 650B Straggler
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor

For what is admittedly a bit of a mish-mash build, Stephanie’s Straggler has come together with a lot of character. The parts kit borrows heavily from other bikes, so you may very well recognize some pieces from other builds. It’s the collection of parts, and the stories behind all of them, that makes this bike something special.

The first story worth noting is this bike is not actually Stephanie’s at all – it’s our friend Andy’s. When we were researching steel ‘cross bikes to tour on last year, Andy offered to lend us this one to try out. It had been stolen, didn’t come back very quickly, and he’d since replaced it. Stephanie rode it a bit last spring and then hung it up as we went traveling, moved back to Vancouver, and endured one heck of a winter.

Why Another 650B ‘Cross Bike?

People have asked why Stephanie would need this bike at all when she’s got a 650B Wolverine on Horizons (more on that bike’s metamorphosis soon). The answer is simple: she wanted to join our local road club. Making her Wolverine fit that purpose would have meant swapping the Jones bars and Tubus rack with dynamo – things she really loves about that bike on an everyday basis.

Similar frames, different preparation, different end result. With its lighter build, shorter rear end, and higher bottom bracket, the 650B Straggler is quicker than her commute-focused and tour-ready Wolverine. The Wolverine as it’s set up isn’t exactly fast, and while the Straggler may not look it, it’s been surprising folks at the club ride.

The Build

To revive a bike from a dormant state and prep it often takes some messing around, but this one was pretty sweet already. Its last incarnation under Andy was a single speed ‘cross ripper, so it had a 38T Race Face Narrow Wide ring, 650×41 Knards, Surly hubs to Stan’s rims, SRAM S500 levers, BB7s, and rad gold Jagwire compressionless housing.

I wanted to keep the brakes intact and give Stephanie a wide range of gears, spending as little money as possible making it happen. I had recently bought a XT 11-42 cassette and chain for the 27.5+ wheels on my mountain bike and, having run the Gevenalle GX shifters while touring last year, knew Microshift made Dyna-Sys compatible bar end shifters for both 10 and 11-speed.

Next up was wheels. With mountain bikes moving to wider rims and 148mm rear spacing, there are lots of “obsolete” but excellent and tubeless-ready wheelsets out there. We had a pair of Easton wheels hanging around (only one of which was on at this point while I sourced end caps) and this was just the project for them. I had the shop bring in a SLX M7000 derailleur and the shifters, and the bike was rolling.

Dialing It In

After a couple of shakedown rides, it was clear this bike was a hit. Never thinking she’d ride a bike with a bar end shifter by choice, it was cool to see her become comfortable with it quickly. The next step was fenders, a PNW staple for all-weather comfort and club ride courtesy. These are the Cascadia 26″ ATB fenders, 60mm wide, and they are perfect on the fat 650s. Slammed like they should be.

The Knards aren’t all that quick, and we figured we could stuff some more volume into the frame. Thing is, she was so stoked on the all-blackness that they had to be black. We ordered up some 48mm Switchback Hills from Compass to live that supple life and while they’re tight – maybe too tight for your liking – they’re super quick. And dreamy. We added a black Spurcycle bell and it was good to go.

Proof

To me the proof that Stephanie’s really enjoying this bike is the fact that she chose to take it on the Super Stoke Weekend ride in the San Juans with the Austin crew. We fitted some extra pieces to the bike to turn it into a weekend camper, and a quicker traveling bike was born!

I put the Rawland rando rack on the bike and my Swift Ozette rando bag with the Ortlieb decaleur hack – but the other end of the decaleur wouldn’t fit with Stephanie’s lower bar height. Instead, I clipped the Tubus rack stay into the pannier clips first and used some mega zip ties to cinch the whole system together. It worked out great, and still turned out to be easily removable.

The frame bag is one Stephanie had made by Porcelain Rocket for my mountain bike, but it had been living on her Wolverine until Super Stoke Weekend. It doesn’t fit perfect here but that’s cool. You’ll recognize the seat pack and unabashed dangle from her Wolverine as well.

Into the Liquid Sunset

So while the way it’s set up in this gallery may indicate otherwise, the Straggler came together not to replace the Wolverine in any way – but to be a quicker bike for Wednesday nights, Sunday mornings, and for adventures like the one we were on when I shot this set of photos.

There are still lots of things that could change, and probably will. Lots of things you might be asking “why?” about – why are there p-clips on the fork, why do you slam your fenders like that, why doesn’t Stephanie ride a carbon bike like everyone else at the club ride – and the answers are probably simpler than you think.

Stephanie describes it as her sandbagging machine, quietly impressive, stable yet fun, and just what she needed to put in the time to become comfortable on drop bars. Hundreds of miles later, she’s the driest person at the wettest club rides, and super stoked on her blacked out road bike.

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Follow Morgan and Stephanie on Instagram at Found in the Mountains, and if you find yourself in Vancouver, join them for #CoffeeOutsideYVR every Friday!

Jun 20, 2017 46 comments
F*ck Yeah Desert Tan Stinner Frameworks Tunnel Hardtail with Box Components

When I first heard the news that Box Components had branched over from BMX racing products to mountain bike componentry, I was eager to get some hands-on experience with their shifter, derailleur, and big-range cassette. A few weeks later, the Box rep visited Golden Saddle Cyclery and I was able to see it. Albeit not on a bike, so when Stinner Frameworks offered to build a review bike for me, built with Box, for NAHBS, I was stoked. I love riding and reviewing hardtails and since Stinner is one of the local builders in the Los Angeles area, I like helping him out when I can, particularly when it comes to mountain bike design. Aaron Stinner had been working on their Tunnel hardtail design over the past year. Previous versions popped up here on the site and with some feedback, he had finally moved closer to nailing down the official Stinner Frameworks hardtail. The team had two bikes on display at NAHBS this year, Kyle’s Grateful Shred 27.5+ and this Fuck Yeah Desert Tan 27.5″. I was excited to try it out, but I was also looking forward to putting miles in on Box Component and Magura’s latest offerings. (more…)

Jun 19, 2017 10 comments
Being Kankōkyaku 観光客 in Japan

Japan is one of my favorite places to travel in the world but it took a few trips there for me to have that realization. Partially because on previous trips, most of my time was spent in Tokyo, leaving much to be desired in terms of riding experience. The main reason was, however, is how embedded the Japanese culture is in their respect for nature. For a country that believes Mt. Fuji is a god, or at least god-like in the modern ethos, I hadn’t seen any of that first hand. Last year’s trip to Nagoya to see our friends at Circles really solidified my love for Japan, but it wasn’t until Cari came out to Japan for a week-long city tour that I saw the true nature of this amazing, yet small and intimate country. (more…)

Jun 16, 2017 23 comments
Braving the Elements on the Oregon Ramble – Robin Sansom

Braving the Elements on the Oregon Ramble
Photos and words by Robin Sansom

We all met at the EconoLodge on 3rd and Main Street in Prineville. Good adventures usually start at bad hotels, so it seemed natural to stage there before the Oregon Ramble. The Ramble is a newish event that is something like a 3-day summer camp on bikes. You bring all your camping gear to ride with friends, old and new, and experience places that you might not normally get to in your everyday life.

After a decent night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, we lazily rolled out of town with the other 50 or so riders. On the climb up to the first camp we saw the entire variety and nearly identical tempo of the weather cycle that would visit us throughout the event: sunshine, rain, hail, cold. Although this first day’s mileage was relatively short, which gave us a little too much time to indulge in the pro bono New Belgium beers at camp, the remaining days would see many more miles and loads more climbing on everything from paved roads to bumpy double track. (more…)

Jun 15, 2017 9 comments
International Kook Exchange Program – Jorja Creighton

International Kook Exchange Program
Words and photos by Jorja Creighton

Founded April 2017, the International Kook Exchange Program (IKEP) provides a safe place for vulnerable kooks in the international biking community, globally, worldwide.The International Kook Exchange Program is for everyone. Chances are… you are a raging kook, embrace it, nurture it, take it into the wild and spread the kook pollen this summer. The exchange aims to provide inspiration to travel and mingle with other bike enthusiasts, it’s a reminder you’re ugly and it’s all goood! (more…)

Jun 14, 2017 22 comments
Calfee’s Manta RS All-Road is a Smooth Ride for Rough Roads

We’ve seen a lot of design gimmicks to make rough roads more pleasant on ‘cross or all-road bikes, mostly in the form of suspension forks, yet I personally feel like there’s more that could be done in terms of frame design. While I’m not an engineer, I feel like achieving comfort on rough roads can mostly be done in the frame itself. That with larger volume, lower pressure tires, a carbon fiber bicycle can really show its true potential when the going gets tough.

Granted, there have actually been a good number of attempts at this over the years, but mostly from the bigger brands with extensive engineering teams, with access to custom layups and large production numbers, but it wasn’t until I saw the Calfee Manta RS at NAHBS this year, that I really thought frame design and compliance had been approached in a different, honest design language. (more…)

Jun 13, 2017 20 comments
Jeremy’s Stinner Baja Buggy 27.5 Monster Cross Bike

The 70’s were the automotive paint design heyday, ATMO anyway. Earth tones and bright hues intersected along cars, vans and trucks via a network of chevrons and stripes. While many manufacturers embraced these trends, it was the niche hobby market who took it to the next level. A whole culture emerged with vans donning intricate designs, long before #VanLife, yet it was the off-road culture that has always piqued my interest, most notably the baja bugs and trucks. Jeremy from Stinner Frameworks has always had an affinity for the early 70’s Baja Bug paint designs, ultimately these became the inspiration for this two-wheeled off-road machine. (more…)

Jun 12, 2017 42 comments
A Weekend Riding Bikes on Endless Dirt Roads in Owens Valley

Out of all the places in California, Owens Valley and its surrounding areas are my favorite. You’ve got the High Sierra to the west and Death Valley to the east. Unfortunately, this late in the year, spending time in Death Valley limits you to the air conditioning confines of your car, or Telescope Peak and its extreme elevation and in the High Sierra, this year’s snowfall of epic proportions still has many of the roads and hiking trails closed. With limited options for altitude, Cari and I decided to explore the valley floor after my week in Chico. Once my work “obligations” were finished, I picked her up from the Sacramento airport on Thursday afternoon and made the traverse into Owens Valley. (more…)

Jun 9, 2017 32 comments