Category Archives: Reportage
For one of this year’s new paint designs, Sacha White of Vanilla / Speedvagen worked with Japanese customer and brand buddy, Masashi Ichifuru, or Ichico as he’s called by friends. Ichigo initially helped Sacha design their Speedvagen National Kit for Japan.
When asked to describe the end result, Sacha White relayed the following:
“What he designed was quintessentially Japanese insofar as it had aspects that were refined and represented high craft, but it also had all of this killer, super cute Japanese pop culture vibe.”
The resulting kit that Ichico designed was a pattern of text alternating between Kanji and English, spelling out Speedvagen in the two alphabets. Mix in Speedvagen’s signature colors and viola, it was so good it had to make its way on a bike frame, resulting in a visual representation of where Speedvagen is right now.
This Surprise Me paint scheme will make an appearance during this year’s CX season and it won’t be alone. Speedvagen will be releasing the desesign in new colors, that will be accompanied by some very special, traditional Japanese goods.
On to the build itself, we’re looking at a Rugged Road model, which is essentially a road bike with larger clearances and disc brakes. This particular bike was built using ENVE, Chris King bits and Campagnolo EPS 11 speed. Some notes of interest are the battery charging port at the bottom bracket cluster, the newly-designed Speedvagen disc dropout and that elegant seatpost topper.
On a personal note, this was one of my all-time favorite bikes from Vanilla…
October will be here before you know it and with it, comes Grinduro, a different kind of bike race. After my pre-ride photoshoot, one thing became evident: the best rig for this race is a cross bike. Don’t even try to ride a road bike, because you’ll be walking and if you ride a MTB, you might clock in a better time on the descents, but there’s a 25 mile climb.
When Giro announced the Grinduro, Santa Cruz framebuilder John Caletti of Caletti Cycles began working on a cyclocross bike for the event. With bent seat stays, clearances for a 40mm tire, disc brakes and no-rattle housing, this bike is the ideal weapon for a day filled with Sierra Nevada gravel and crag.
My favorite detail on this frame in particular however is the Geoff McFetridge artwork. The evil mountain awaits and Grinduro is coming… Best get your rig ready.
Cyclocross bikes may be designed to race for 45 minutes to an hour in various conditions, but their beauty lies in their versatility. I’ve put in a lot of time on my cross bike over the years, and only a fraction of those hours were spent racing. Instead, my bike’s been on road, trail, dirt, gravel and frontage road rides. With the right gear range, which is now as simple as a cassette or a chainring swap, a cyclocross bike could very well be the only drop bar bike you’ll need.
Companies like Niner are banking on that and while they offer a few ‘cross bikes, the RLT9 Steel is their flagship steel rig. Made from oversized Reynolds 853, with a pressfit 30 bottom bracket and a sweet carbon fork, the RLT9 Steel is being marketed to the “adventure” crowd.
What better way to test a bike’s capabilities than to pull one right from the box, strap three day’s worth of camping gear on it and chase 20 people around the mountains, roads and singletrack in central California?
That’s exactly where my relationship with the RLT9 Steel began… In the San Jose airport.
Literally seconds after walking into the 2015 Sea Otter Classic, I ran into Nick and Matt from SF. They had driven in that day and rode their lock-up MTB commuters down to the show. In SF, with bike theft at an all-time high, having a beater that is both cheap and functional is key.
Matt’s Trek 890 features porteur bars, a rear rack, a porteur rack and a Strawfoot bag for cargo. Meanwhile Nick’s Mongoose utilizes dirt drops and barcons. Both bikes have a fair amount of beausage and can both be maintained with a local bike shop’s parts bin.
Thanks to Matt and Nick for embracing my request for a wheelie photo!
For 2015, Ritte Racing has reenvisioned their Snob road frame to fully adopt disc brakes with 30mm tire clearances in mind. The new OS 630 Stainless frame is custom hardened in-factory, laser mitered and tig welded to last a lifetime. Each Snob Disc comes with a 1-1/4″ Enve Disc Road fork and Chris King IS-8 headset. To provide an ample platform for butting those oversized tubes together, the Disc Snob uses a PF30 bottom bracket, which coincidentally delivers stiffness where riders like to feel it.
This particular bike was on display at Sea Otter and was built using the latest working prototype Paul Klamper disc brakes. All I can say is there’s a whole lotta bad-assery going on here. Good job, Ritte!
Expect the Disc Snobs to drop in June with an MSRP of $3,000.
These days, I’m spending a lot of time riding and lugging around my DSLR. While I’d much rather do a ride with close friends and leave the camera at home, I couldn’t pass up yet another year of the Blackburn Ranger Camp. Last year’s ride / popsicle hammock experience was too good, so when Robin from Blackburn invited me along for a second time, I accepted the invitation without hesitation, only picking up on keywords: “camping, Big Basin, Redwoods, bourbon, BB guns, beach, Sea Otter, Niner bikes.”
The logistics of my past few weeks went something like this: Giro Grinduro shoot in Sierra Nevada, home for two days, back to Cali for Eroica, ride 130 miles on a 1982 7-speed crit bike, drive immediately to San Jose, arrive at airport hotel at 1am, work for 3 hours, sleep for 3 hours, cab it to the San Jose Airport, pack up my Niner RLT9 Steel cross bike with three day’s supplies, clear CF cards, and commence the herding of cats…
WARNING! This is going to make you HATE that today is Monday. 100 images await you…
The guys over at Franco had two new bicycles with them at the 2015 Sea Otter Classic. One was a flashy cyclocross racing frame with a carbon fork and carbon wheels. The other, however was a little more unique. It was the same frame, yet built with a steel fork, Di2, disc brakes, fenders and painted a forest green. While the fork they had with them was a painted All-City fork, Franco Bicycles will be making their own, in the same facilities that make their frames here in the USA.
These frames are multi-use, semi-customizable, and are made in the USA for under $1,500. Available in Summer of 2015, you can reach out to them and get put on the waiting list. Head over to the Franco Grimes site for more information.
As a first time attendee at Sea Otter Classic, I had no idea what to expect. Everyone I spoke to assured me that it would be hell on Earth, with wind, sun, locusts and boils (read: hangovers). Rather than some apocalyptic wasteland, I found it to be quite accessible, friendly and casual. Especially when compared to the chaos of Interbike, Eurobike and even NAHBS. All of which I rarely have time to talk to people while there…
No one enjoys trade shows. Not the people in the booths, not the people photographing the booths, yet most of the people I chatted with were surprisingly relaxed and dare I say, stoked to be there. Most of the major brands had already launched their big products and a lot of the smaller brands were more interested in building relationships with media outlets by sharing a beer or loaning sunblock, rather than getting some shitty booth photo taken.
Sea Otter landed itself right after Eroica and a little bikepacking trip I took with Blackburn, so maybe that’s why it was so relaxing for me. I had no obligations, aspirations, hopes or dreams and yet, I got to talk to people and shoot photos when I saw the opportunity arise. Obviously, a lot of those bikes will have their own galleries (many already have), so expect nothing but randomness in this photoset. Yeah, it’s a little skimpy, but I’d rather share these photos than delete them.
Next year, if I attend again, I will however bring a better hat, more sunblock and a damn MTB…
For the 2015 Sea Otter Classic this year, Mavic wanted to showcase a few influential designers as a platform to display their newly-branded and redesigned Crossmax SL Pro wheels. They contacted Sean Talkington of Team Dream Team who led them to Aaron Stinner of Stinner Frameworks and Jordan Low Custom Paint.
For Sean, he wanted a do-it-all 29’r hardtail, setup for minimal bike packing and everyday trail riding. For Chad, his 27.5″ hardtail is a straight-forward XC race machine. Once Aaron Stinner knew the silhouette, Sean began designing the frames. The resulting designs were inspired by 90’s era fluoro paint jobs, using Mavic’s signature yellow color as a starting point.
These two bikes were unveiled tonight at a Mavic event in Monterey, California on the first day of Sea Otter. Swing by their booth at #559 to see these beauts in person.
To commemorate their new ultralight Addict cyclocross bike, Scott Sports had Marcel Wildhaber’s special edition bike on display at their Sea Otter Classic booth. While the production Addict touts the same frame details, the paint job on this one was too good to pass up on… more. camo.
The Addict CX is being marketed as one of the lightest framesets on the market. Weighing in at a cool 1300g (frame and fork), it’s a claim that’s easily backed up. With internal routing for everything, including a dropper post, thru-axles and a removable front derailleur clamp, the Addict CX’s minimal profile is both appealing to those obsessive mechanics, as it is to racers.
While the production Addict comes with clinchers, Marcel’s bike had some juicy FMB tubies glued up, providing that last little bit of flair to an already sick race machine. There’s more information to come on the Addict CX at Scott Sports and more photos in the Gallery!