Category Archives: Reviews
The Vanilla Workshop has multiple tiers in terms of frameset design and production. At the highest tier is a Vanilla. These are 100% custom, lugged beauties made entirely by Sacha White. Their wait list is so long, it’s not even worth mentioning. Then on the more readily-available tier is a Speedvagen frameset. These used to be only available as a 100% custom geometry with multiple options from paint, ranging from a simple, single color with detail hits to complex, “Surprise Me” paint jobs that are so wild, they’ve inspired how other builders tackle paint design.
Now, Speedvagen has a third option in its pricing catalog: the OG1 road frameset. These are stock frames, already painted and in stock now, ready to ship to you in days or weeks, not months. The OG1 also carries a pricetag that won’t make you choke on your morning breakfast, when it comes to a made in the USA frame anyway.
The OG1 is still made 100% by hand in the Vanilla Workshop and it’s painted in house with a custom Speedvagen design, usually two per year with the first year’s designs being limited to a matte lavender or a burly-looking matte olive drab! It’s obvious which color you’re seeing here.
These frames are a deal, but there’s a catch… (more…)
The Breadwinner Goodwater in Big Country
Photos and words by Gabe Tiller
Some friends and I had been scheming and dreaming up our Oregon Big Country route for an entire year, and this spring right as we were finalizing details Breadwinner Cycles launched their new Goodwater 27.5+ trail bike. I’ve known Tony since he moved to Portland from Salt Lake and watch him build bike after bike, each more lustworthy than the last. And they’ve pulled home award after award from NAHBS and the Oregon Manifest too. His meticulous craft building bicycles has become impeccably tuned, and the few times I’ve had the opportunity to ride bikes with him he’s whooped me soundly on the trail as well.
A few years ago when Surly launched their plus platform I took my first ride on the Krampus and instantly knew mountain bikes would be forever changed. Wider rims, more volume, and less pressure allowed me to clean technical lines I’d never come close to before. Rim, tire, and tubeless technology had brought high volume and large contact patches to the table without the weighing anywhere near as much as the motocross wheels they looked like. I was sold and thrashed my Krampus for a year before upgrading to a Ti Gnarvester. And now I really wanted to steal away on Tony’s fat-tired trail bike for our eight-day overland adventure through Oregon’s Big Country. Surprisingly when I asked, he agreed: “Sure, and ride it like I would—hard.”
He and Ira are often heard saying “We build the bikes we ride” and it shows in the Goodwater. Tony spends a fair amount of our rainy winter sessioning The Lumberyard and while the Goodwater is designed for an entirely different riding environment, he has maintained that nimble playfulness that make park bikes so fun. Giddily riding it home I could feel it begging to be flicked up curb banks and manualed through puddles. It’s got the shortest rear end (440mm) of any plus bikes I’ve ridden, and paired with the Fox Float 34 it cruises over rough terrain and still easily wheelies through desert stream crossings. At least the ones not filled with axle deep mud.
With internal routing, Shimano’s XTR Di2 1×11 drivetrain, Enve HV hoops, and a Thompson dropper it’s an incredibly clean build. It loaded up super well with my Porcelain Rocket Mr Fusion dropper hack, a Revelate framebag, and Limberlost’s DIY Handlebar Roll. It tackled the steep climbs and rocky descents over the Steens with ease, and the 2.8″ Schwalbe Nobby Nics held up well being pushed hard in loose corners or slogging through the Big Sand Gap on our way to Willow Hot Springs.
My only regret is that I didn’t get the chance to drop all the bags and really let this shreddy trail bike shine on some local singletrack before wearily giving Tony back his baby. I’m excited to see so many mountain bike builders embracing fatter tires, and Breadwinner is pushing the momentum of this movement with their Goodwater.
Follow along with the rest of our adventures at Limberlost.co.
Follow Gabe and the Limberlost crew on Instagram and check out Breadwinner’s Instagram!
Words and photos by Morgan Taylor
Carrying stuff on bikes can be complicated – especially when you’re a notorious over-packer who likes to have a DSLR on hand. The Wolverine is my first ground-up drop bar build in a while, and I wanted to ensure that both transporting and accessing my camera would be well thought out.
Since we got married last October, Stephanie and I have been putting the pieces together to take off on a multi-month trip beginning in July. Wanting to produce galleries and stories on the road means having a bike-camping friendly way to carry my camera gear. I decided on a Swift Ozette rando bag – and the Hinterland Collection made with X-Pac VX21 had classic rando utility with a technical, modern twist.
I got talking with Martina at Swift over email, and ended up heading down to Seattle to visit their studio and pick up my bag in person. While Martina does get out on a lot of adventures herself, she also loves to live vicariously through others. Finding out that Stephanie and I were headed in the direction of the Great Divide route and planning on sticking to dirt as much as possible, she recommended finding a robust decaleur solution for my Ozette. (more…)
Since the authors of the Radavist always have a camera on them, we’re going to try to provide more brief, succinct reviews of everyday products. This one’s been a staple in my car camping equipment for a while, though I never thought to use it on the bike. That is until I recently discovered that it fits in a Looney Bin.
The 32oz Insulated Howler by Miir keeps your beverages cold for a day (I’ve tested it) and hot for 12 hours, depending on how often you open it up. This thing is solid, made from stainless steel and consequently it’s a bit heavy but on a touring bike or townie bike, that’s kinda irrelevant, especially when having an icy cold drink at the top of a climb is of the utmost importance.
To give you an idea about it’s size, it’s 11″ tall, 3.5″ in diameter with a 2.5″ opening, complete with a flip top. You can fit it in a Loony Bin, a Widefoot Liter Cage, or any other “cargo cage.” It’s available in black or silver and in stock now at Miir.
The All-City Log Lady: Sometimes Bikes, Like Men, Jump Up and Say ‘HELLO’
Words by Kyle Kelley, photos by John Watson
From the beginning All-City has been ahead of the curve. They are dedicated contributors to the current evolution of cycling, pushing their own boundaries and those of the industry around them, making bikes that are actually fun to ride. They began making high quality, affordable track cranks and hubs when there was nothing but Campagnolo and Sugino to choose from. Next they introduced the world to the 32c production road “race” bike. After that, they took the cyclocross world by storm and produced a NAHBS quality production single speed cyclocross bike. And during the vintage MTB craze of 2014-2015 they made a modern day, old-timey MTB equally equipped for ripping down the trails as through the streets to the bar. (more…)
Photos and words by Morgan Taylor.
I’m not going to get away without laying down some bad puns here. Sorry if that’s not your thing. 27.5+ tires have really blown up this year. Just look at this year’s NAHBS galleries. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a 27.5+ hardtail out there.
Last year, in my long term review of the Surly Ice Cream Truck, I casually mentioned that I thought this bike was a good candidate for a 27.5+ conversion. John told me he had a pair of WTB Scraper rims that had yet to be built up and, with a promise to keep my mouth shut for a while, Surly sent me a proto pair of their now-available 27.5 x 3” Dirt Wizards.
The 27.5+ Dirt Wizards both weighed in at a hair under 1225 grams. Heavy by mountain bike standards, light by fat bike standards. Nice thick sidewalls and big, gummy tread blocks. Promising. John surprised me by having Mellow Johnny’s lace the rims to a pair of Industry Nine fat bike hubs and the project was underway.
Minneapolis is a veritable playground for a healthy mix of urban and trail riding. With the River Bottoms just a short ride from downtown, as well as a plethora of other trails surrounding the city, you can easily ride from your house, to the woods and back on one gear. Part of that ideology is what’s inspired many of All-City‘s bicycles and was without a doubt the motivating force behind their newest bike, the Log Lady, a singlespeed mountain bike with 27.5 wheels and a rigid, segmented fork.
I’ve had the pleasure of riding a custom built Log Lady here in Los Angeles over the past few weeks. This is by no means a complete review, since I’ve yet to spend enough time on the Log Lady to thoroughly vet it but I will say, so far, it’s been a lot of fun. Painful fun, but fun nonetheless. (more…)
The touring world is changing, no doubt about it. Steel frames are still the norm for obvious reasons, but disc brakes are now widely accepted and people are venturing far and wide with component choices that only a few years ago may have been considered imprudent.
One group doing this is the young and adventurous among us, arguably oblivious to their equipment’s lack of serviceability. Under these pioneers, bikes go into the wild with sometimes ugly, yet highly functional home-hacked solutions that get the job done. They are out there for the pure experience, pushing the boundaries of equipment that only a few years ago was considered cutting-edge technology.
Another side of this coin is people at bike companies, with access to the newest stuff before it hits the market, building custom bikes to their own specs to push the limits. It’s not uncommon to see mountain drivetrains on road frames, tires that are too big to pass safety standards, and so on. These bikes, however, rarely make it past the engineers’ and product managers’ personal collections.
When product managers spec bikes, they are held to account by bean counters making sure bikes will sell through – and that means sticking to tradition and not taking chances. I love it when companies have the guts to spec a bike in a way that’s pointed at radness rather than tradition. When I see a production bike deviate from industry norms in this way, my eyes light up; the Kona Sutra LTD is one of those bikes. (more…)
After slicing a 6-month old WTB Nano wide open on a sharp rock during a ride last week, I swapped my tires back over to the Bruce Gordon Rock N Roads. Once I got them set up tubeless, I was immediately reminded how much I love these damn beautiful tires but as we all know, looks aren’t everything.
A 43mm tire with a decent amount of tread can’t fit in most frames, but I had my Firefly designed to specifically accommodate the Rock N Roads. After a few inner-city dirt rides, with a few photos, I felt compelled to share some thoughts… (more…)
After a long 48 hours of travel, I found myself in Coyhaique, Chile unloading my bags from the airport shuttle and quickly unpacking my riding gear. We were late. A day late to be exact and we had to catch the rest of the group before they began descending into the first day of our four-day trip in Patagonia with Santa Cruz Bicycles.
Laying on the grass in front of our hotel was a permutation of the newest from Santa Cruz Bicycles: Hightower. Named after Eric Highlander, the SCB demo coordinator. Eric’s a 6’4″ ripper and was the Tallboy LT’s biggest fan, which inspired the team at Santa Cruz to make this new long travel 29’r model an homage to Eric, christening it Hightower.
As a fan of the Tallboy LT myself, I was bummed to see it mysteriously drop off the SCB website back in September, even knowing that usually meant one thing: relaunch. So when they asked me to come along with them to the Aysén region of Patagonia, I had a hunch… My hunch was right. (more…)