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…)
Tom’s Super Shreddy Stinner One-Off 26+ Hardtail
Photos by Kyle Kelley, words by John Watson
Working at Stinner Frameworks for the past few months, and other builders over the past few years, Tom LaMarche has learned a lot about frame fabrication. Riding BMX and MTBs for a majority of his life taught him about frame design. Tom’s a ripper. An ex-Hollywood movie professional stuntman and overall ripper. When he picked up a job at Stinner, he really wanted to build a new MTB for himself to shred on trails, random jibs and also rip on at bike parks. Not being a fan of 27.5 or 29+ platforms, he decided on a 26+ frameset with slack angles and a lot of standover clearance.
This frame is a one-off, labeled a Stinner because it happened under Aaron’s roof, with Aaron’s tools, but this bike is Tom’s brainchild that he built on his own. Bikes like this look mean, like they have their own agenda and I can’t wait to see more of that…
Shred on You Krusty Diamond: Travis T’s Falconer Throwback Machine
Photos by John Watson, words by Travis T
After an afternoon of looking at cool vintage bikes at Cameron Falconer‘s house, I asked him if he’d be down to weld me a single speed mountain bike frame inspired by old klunkers, with a fork inspired by a Pro-Cruiser (first production mountain bike) with a loop tail. I basically wanted all of my favorite things about a lot of historic mountain bikes, all on one frame, built for me. BUT, I also wanted to showcase as many PAUL Component parts as possible, and I wanted it to feature the new Set-N-Forget thru-axle skewers. I also wanted to ride the shit out of this bike, so I wanted it to have legit shredworthy geometry and no weaknesses or tolerance issues. (more…)
It was time for Nick to get a road bike. Nick is usually seen around town on a track bike – and a damn fine one at that – but now, he’s got something new. A longtime fan of Adam Eldridge’s Stanridge Speed brand, he commissioned him for a road bike with aggressive angles, disc brakes and an almost blinding wet paint. The sparkles almost overpower this speed machine’s stance. Short chainstays, a drop stem and a zero setback post puts Nick on the front of the bike at all times. It’s perfect for inner city riding and descending the tight canyons found in Los Angeles.
As you can tell, he used Ultegra, Thomson and DT Swiss for the build. This road bike is one of the meanest looking specimens to cross my lens this year. Lookin’ good, fellas!
People often ask what I love most about my job. After the obvious – riding bikes – comes watching projects like this unfold. Paul Price lives in Chico and is the man behind Paul Component Engineering. He’s been in this game for a while and has been to NAHBS countless times over the years. In that time, he’s watched a lot of new names pop up in the framebuilding circuit, most notably Sean from Oddity Cycles. Sean’s creations are whacky, fun and offer very unique riding characteristics. For one, they’re titanium, which at smaller diameters, can be flexy. Not in a bad way, just in a unique way. Next up, Sean bends the shit out of the tubes, making them swoopy and thus increasing the wow factor. (more…)
Team Space Horse and the Luxury Horsepower Route through the Sierra Nevada!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley
In the Spring of 2016 Jeff from All-City asked me if I’d like to do a party ride in the Lake Tahoe area before Saddle Drive! As you probably already know, anytime the word party and ride are in the same sentence, I say yes. Jeff then asked me if my better half would also like to come along, and of course, I just said yes to that too! In reality, I probably should have asked about the route and the terrain, but I didn’t. Liz and I would be riding 600 miles on the northern portion of the Divide just before, so I figured this would be a walk in the park. Boyyy…was I wrong. (more…)
Paul Camp is a magical week where Paul Component Engineering invites journalists from all over the US to check out their day to day operations through a series of hands-on workshops. Each journalist is assigned a CNC machine, or workstation and is taught the skills needed to machine brakes, stems, and other components. From there, they camp out on the property, eat sandwhiches and run the machines 24 hours a day, in shifts. This gives the employees of Paul a chance to ride during the week. Everybody wins!
Just kidding. In reality, Paul gives the journalists a tour of the shop, where he walks them through the process of fabricating everything in the Paul Component Engineering catalog. From there, they are able to select a bike from one of eleven builders and go on a ride in the hills of Chico. Swimming usually ensues, along with a Sierra Nevada Brewery tour, some dinner and then everyone goes home. It’s a rad time, or at least I’ve heard it is, because each year, for one reason or another, I cannot attend this Bicycle Journalist Spring Break.
Feeling like I owe Mr. Paul something, not only because we’re friends, but because he had these eleven bikes just hanging out, waiting for a proper photoshoot, I planned on heading up to Chico once I got back from my European travels. Last week, I loaded up the truck and drove straight up California for 10 hours until I reached Chico, Paul and these bikes. (more…)
It’s always the unintended creations that receive the most attention. That’s the case with this Sturdy Cycles all-road. Tom Sturdy is an instructor at the Bicycle Academy and this bike was intended to be an experiment of sorts. He wanted to show students that building a frame isn’t rocket science and intended to build the bike complete in less than 24 hours. That included painting it. Then, to make it even more interesting, Tom used scrap tubes and pieces of steel that had imperfections of various sorts. That includes crimps, dents and even buckling. In short, this bike is far from perfect and far from the level of craftsmanship Tom and Sturdy Cycles is capable of. Yet, this bike receives loads of attention wherever it rolls. All it takes is a detail-attentive eye to notice the dented and buckled steel.
About the bike itself. Tom wanted to make an all-road bike that was closer to a road bike than a mountain bike. Lots of bikes today align themselves on one side or the other and Tom felt that running a higher volume, lower pressure tire, along with a very flexy frame would achieve “passive suspension” versus relying on other forms of technology making the rounds. Now, this bike mostly takes Tom to and from his job at the Bicycle Academy. Since building the bike, he’s put both it and himself to the test, learning from not only building but riding his creation.
For Tom, this process of making, testing, refining is what building bikes is all about.
Jake Rusby is a framebuilding instructor at the Bicycle Academy and one that specializes in beautiful fillet brazed construction. In a way, through teaching students this artistry, he’s passing the torch of knowledge to the next generation of framebuilders and since the Bicycle Academy’s student reach is worldwide, his impact will only have positive results in the industry as a whole. This is Jake’s personal bike. It’s an all-day road frame, built with Dura Ace, with a more relaxed geometry when compared to a crit racing machine. Jake wanted a bike he could spend every waking moment on, soaking in the sun in the British countryside outside of Bristol, where he recently just relocated from in London.
What is most impressive about all of this is that Jake painted this bike himself. He wanted the contrast of a single color, with areas of intensity in the details. After masking off dozens of dots, he began the painting process, resulting in a halftone-inspired final product which achieves his intention quite well. Other details I found intriguing are the split seat stay bridge and head badge, both acting as a reflection of the other.
Bikes like this are all about the little details, adding to the overall composition. Hopefully, that’s a message conveyed to the students Jake teaches as well. See more of Jake’s work at the Rusby Cycles website.
First of all, if you haven’t watched the muddy, messy hell that is the Hack Bike Derby video, you should do that first. Ok? We all caught up? Now, there’s a bit of chaos involed in this event, but there are still rules. (more…)