Category Archives: Reportage
A Santa Rosa Frame Building Flashback: 1990’s Rigid Kostrikin SSMTB

Santa Rosa – and all of NorCal for that matter – has a rich history with frame builders. From Eisentraut to Salsa, Sycip, and Retrotec, the names and faces of this little realm within the cycling industry have such great stories to tell. While I’m working on a few more posts from my recent trip to Santa Rosa, I thought I’d share this unique build with you.

High in the rafters at Trail House hangs this 1990’s Kostrikin rigid single speed mountain bike. These days, bikes like this are still rolling around, converted with “limp dick” stems, baskets and flat pedals, these once race-ready bikes have found a life living as commuters, bar bikes, tourers, and grocery getters. There was a time, however, when these were the pinnacle of racing technology. Although the single speed market was and seemingly still remains a small percentage of this population. (more…)

Apr 29, 2018 25 comments
Ryan’s Rootbeer Rivendell Rosco Bubbe

Ryan might not be known too well in the cycling scene. Unless of course, you’re at Golden Saddle where he’s a regular to the shop, tweaking things on his bike, or figuring out where to bicycle camp, and just ride. He’s an accomplished skateboarding photographer though, which is the realm where he’s best known. Ryan traded his previous bike for this Rootbeer colored Rivendell Rosco Bubbe, which he swapped out a few parts on to make it his own. The details on this thing are exceptional, as are all Rivendell frames, but it’s the build kit that really stands out.

From the Sugino triple, to the JJJ Bars, to the Red Monkey Grips, Pass & Stow rack, a Bell Tower to raise his Spurcycle bell up, PAUL brakes, and Swift Sugarloaf bag, this bike is highly functional but looks damn good at the same time. Remarkably, Ryan was able to cram in those 50mm Cazadero tires into the frame, making it a perfect off-road machine for LA’s fire roads.

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Apr 27, 2018 45 comments
The Stagepoach 420 – Kyle Ng and John Blackwell

The Stagepoach 420
Words by Kyle Ng, photos by Kyle and John Blackwell

Editor’s Intro: Kyle from Outershell and his friend John Blackwell took on the fabled Stagecoach 400 route last winter, writing up a damn good ride Reportage with photos of this rugged trail. I included Kyle’s note at the bottom that John’s bike was stolen, so keep your eyes out for a 29+ Falconer! Also included are the Outer Shell products used here, in case you were wondering.

Day 1: Mid March 2018. Me, John Blackwell and Jason Silverek meetup in San Diego one morning to ride the Stagecoach 400 route, a 400-mile bikepacking race that was supposed to start the same day. We were starting in southern San Diego, at the midpoint of the route. The actual race starts and ends in Idyllwild. Unfortunately for us, the race start was delayed due to a big storm coming in and the prospects of precarious mud conditions. Our plan was to hightail it all the way to the desert, getting through the would-be muddiest sections outside of San Diego before the storm came. We were all hung over. (more…)

Apr 26, 2018 9 comments
Inside / Out at Retrotec Cycles in Napa, California

I’ve never owned a bike that receives as much attention from non-cyclists as a Retrotec. With comments ranging from “can I fit big tires like that on my cruiser?” to “how’d you put disc brakes on that cruiser?” Once I follow up with an explanation, they quickly lose interest, yet are still entranced with the bike itself. That connection is not too far from the reality of the Retrotec brand, however. Back in 1992, a builder named Bob Seals wanted to race his old cantilever cruiser frame. This frame, the Retrotec number one, still hangs in Curtis’ shop to this day.

Bob’s intent was to make modern-day cruisers, designed to be ridden and raced. The look of Bob’s builds really resonated with Curtis and in 1993, he moved to Chico, CA to work for Retrotec. In 1995, Bob had exhausted his framebuilding efforts, prompting Curtis to take over, relocating the business to San Francisco. This presented a problem for Curtis, who quickly realized that cruiser bikes weren’t really a thing – yet – and work was slow. Curtis chugged along in San Francisco, building frames part-time and experimenting with new Retrotec designs, while sharing a shop with the Sycip brothers.

In 1998 Retrotec moved to Napa, California and everything changed. (more…)

Apr 25, 2018 25 comments
Curtis Inglis’ 2010 Oregon Manifest Retrotec City Bike

Way back in 2010, an event called the Oregon Manifest pinged a selection of frame builders to solve common usage problems with bikes. This included cargo carrying specifications ranging from the large and out of the ordinary, to the simple task of carrying a change of clothes. It just so happened that in 2010, the Oregon Manifest’s task was to carry just that. For Retrotec and Inglis Cycles‘ Curtis Inglis, he approached this challenge by first looking for inspiration within his own shop.

Curtis had this Salsa quill stem, back when they were made in California in the shop of Ross Shafer, whos shop, and employees, like Sean Walling influenced Curtis’ own frame building operations. We’ll look at that more in-depth tomorrow. For now, let’s focus on this bike. So there he was, with this stem that needed a home. He had an idea of what the frame was supposed to look like and pinged his buddy Jeff Hantman to make some half wheel fenders with the Retrotec “guy,” smiling on the back and a halftone fade.

As for the frame, well, that’s the easy part for Curtis. He got to work, knowing the design challenges of the frame including the need to carry a spare change of clothes for the party after the show, perhaps harkening to the need for commuters to have nice “work” clothing once they’ve rolled into their office job. Curtis brought white loafers, a pair of plaid pants that he converted into nickers. He then had Travis at Freight Baggage to include the scraps of plaid into the rack bag still being used on the bike today. Curtis even painted the Pass and Stow rack to match! Chuey even made a cycling cap of this material. Bottom line: Curtis thought out all the details for this bike, including many of his friend’s work in his final product.

This bike has a new use now; Curtis carries their dog Coco around town with his wife on their city cruises. I wish I could have gotten a photo of that during my stay, but Curtis had his hands full with unexpected life events.

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Apr 24, 2018 23 comments
Nick from Harvest Moon and His Sycip 27.5+ ‘Land Cruiser’

Nick has a few loves in his life. Sure, family comes first. Then probably his very successful business, Harvest Moon Cafe, a farm-to-table restaurant in Sonoma, with a specialty in meat. The two things that Nick relies on for entertainment, certainly piqued my interest when I first met him in Japan during the Chris King Gourmet Century. He’s been a mountain biker since the 90’s, taking on the trails surrounding Santa Fe, and racing bikes. Since moving to Sonoma, he’s been friends with neighboring builders Curtis Inglis and Jeremy Sycip. (more…)

Apr 23, 2018 14 comments
Sycip Designs, Shimano and ENVE Created Trans Cascadia Trail Work Rigs

Trail work is tough and that is a massive understatement. For the crew that runs Trans Cascadia each year, it means loading up chainsaws, fuel, and other tools, usually on their back, as they pedal into the great unknown that is the wild Oregon backcountry. Usually, the singletrack is overgrown, with felled trees, and other obstacles the crew needs to clear. In years past, the team has utilized motos when possible, but they can be large and cumbersome, so this year, the team at Trans Cascadia worked with Jeremy at Sycip Designs to make something extra special, just in time for Sea Otter… (more…)

Apr 19, 2018 32 comments
Inside / Out at White Industries in Petaluma, California

In 1991, with the advent of Shimano’s XTR drivetrain, Doug White felt a pinch. That pinch turned into a financial punch and it was the first time since White Industries opened in 1978 that the small fabrication shop was worried about shuttering their operations. Ironically, the thing that saved White Industries from Shimano’s pursuit of mountain bike drivetrains was the single speed freewheel and the community that embraced SSMTB racing and riding.

Stories like that really resonate with me. Hearing about a small company – by comparison to Shimano anyway – make it after fears of breaking it thanks to a grassroots scene like SSMTB shows just how much companies like White Industries matter to us, the consumers within the cycling industry. (more…)

Apr 18, 2018 35 comments