Category Archives: Shop Visit
No “I” in Academy: Inside the Bicycle Academy

Knowledge is best passed, like a torch, through experience. There are many institutions which educate hopeful framebuilders in the art of design, construction, and finishing of a bicycle frame. They each take their own approach to this process and many of our favorite builders have learned in this hands-on, classroom environment.

Nestled in an industrial building, within the town of Frome in Somerset, the Bicycle Academy threw their towel into the framebuilding education ring a few years back and in that time, have grown their curriculum into an impressive institution. All this could not have been possible if it were not for the successful crowdfunding operation and the 183 people who donated money and 23 individuals who donated their skills to jumpstart the Bicycle Academy. (more…)

May 23, 2017 6 comments
Swinging Through Sabrosa Cycles in St. George

This cycling world we all live in is very small, or at least smaller thanks to the reach of social media. As soon as we posted up in St. George, Utah, a few local riders reached out to us, offering to show-off their local trails. We eventually met up with Dan, a dude who lives out of his pickup and rambles around the Southwest as a guide and climbing instructor. He finds himself back in St. George this time of year and just so happened to have a few minutes to meet up with us. Dan told Kyle and I about Sabrosa Cycles, a local frame builder who isn’t really actively seeking to boost his queue, but builds a few bikes in his spare time for his friends. After some exchanges over text and Instagram, we set up a time to meet Jon from Sabrosa Cycles at his home shop.

With meet-ups like this, you never know what you’re getting yourself into. You could have some dude with gas cannister and a torch, repairing Schwinn cruisers, or a full-on framebuilding operation. I had heard the name Sabrosa before, but wasn’t aware of Jon or his operation. I think I speak for the entire group who rolled over to Jon’s shop when I say we were all surprised and impressed.

Jon’s not just a builder. He teaches geological classes at the local university, owns a fleet of VWs and is an avid fabricator. When you step into his shop, the bikes are low-hanging fruit, but the equipment and tooling he’s compiled over the years is where the real candy is. His experience with framebuilding came in 2002 when he needed a new cyclocross fork. The stock one had broke and Jon wanted to find a replacement. When he reached out to a friend, he offered to show Jon how to make a fork, not just buy a new one.

From there, he was hooked and began making forks, stems and eventually frames. While he doesn’t really take orders from the internet, he does work with a few locals on their dream builds for the roads and trails of Southern Utah. I’m including a mixte Jon made for his wife, as well as the tricycle he made for his daughter. We’ll take a look at Jon’s personal dirty roadie in more detail later… Follow Jon on Instagram and check out more of his work at Sabrosa Cycles!

Feb 8, 2017 20 comments
A Look Inside Second Spin Cycles’ Vintage MTB Collection

To call Martin from Second Spin Cycles a “collector” doesn’t do his operation justice. When I think of bicycle collectors, I picture hoarders stacking NOS parts for the sake of their own enjoyment, often shutting off their acquisitions from the real world, while only allowing members of various online forums the sneak peek inside, via photos. Maybe that’s an exaggeration but personally, I feel a great amount of indifference to people who hoard bicycles and components. Unless they’re riding them… (more…)

Feb 1, 2017 26 comments
Hanging with Charlie Kelly at the Marin Museum of Bicycling! – Kyle Kelley

Hanging with Charlie Kelly at the Marin Museum of Bicycling!
Photos and words by Kyle Kelley

When in Marin you better make it a point to do one of two things. The first thing I’d recommend is going on a ride and taking a stab at the world record Repack decent of 4:22 still held by Gary Fisher on a Klunker! The second thing I’d recommend is getting over to the Marin Museum of Bicycling! If you have time, I’d even suggest you do them both. I would even go as far to say that you should ride down from the mountains straight into the museum, high on Klunker stoke, knowing that you just rode the fire roads where legends were born.

I was unable to go on a ride because of time, but will most definitely be up in the coming Spring to give Gary Fisher a run for his money. Sean from Team Dream and I were visiting Northern California to attend one of our good friend’s wedding around the Point Reyes area, it was a quick trip so there was no riding in our cards, but we definitely made the time for the Marin Museum of Bicycling. (more…)

Dec 13, 2016 10 comments
The Magic of Missoula’s Free Cycles – Locke Hassett and Kyle Kelley

Free Cycles is a Long Ride from Here
Photos by Kyle Kelley and words by Locke Hassett

“It’s a long ride from here. 80 miles, and the first 20 are uphill. The train leaves at 5pm, and we have to be there at 4, because we have bicycles. It should be a good day.”

That was when I knew that my new job was not your ordinary bike shop gig, and never would be. Bob Giordano, the founder of Free Cycles, Missoula’s community bike shop, warmed his hands with his breath as the sun broke over Logan Pass and illuminated Heaven’s Peak, which was in our view as we stopped for morning coffee on Going to the Sun Road. This was a casual employee bonding ride: Missoula to Glacier, over the pass, catch a train to Whitefish and hitchhike back to open the shop on Tuesday. Pathologically optimistic, barely planned, and wonderful. Our plan was as loose as what got us there and without hesitation, we kept on riding. We were unsure of what would happen, but we knew it would be good, and that is the magic of Free Cycles. (more…)

Nov 15, 2016 15 comments
Faster than a Bullitt at Larry vs Harry in Copenhagen – Kevin Sparrow

Faster than a Bullitt at Larry vs Harry in Copenhagen
Photos and words by Kevin Sparrow

Welcome to Copenhagen, the mecca of cargo bikes! Well, at least for Bullitt bike owners.

During the 2013 Cycle Messenger World Championships in Lausanne, I had the privilege of meeting the co-founder of Larry vs Harry, Hans Bullitt Fogh. After returning stateside, I joined the LvsH family by purchasing a Bullitt of my own, and I’ve been wanting to visit their operations ever since. A few weeks ago, I was in Copenhagen and finally got that chance.

The company started 9 years ago with the V1 of the Bullitt. Throughout the years, design changes have been made and an accessory line realized in response to customer demands.
The Larry vs Harry storefront, on Frederiksborggade, showcases their entire cargo fleet in all colors and versions. The shop also sells custom built Bullitts and services local ones. (more…)

Nov 9, 2016 22 comments
Heading to Santa Cruz for the Rock Lobster Cup!

When I was in Santa Cruz after Grinduro, I swung by to see Paul Sadoff, the man behind Rock Lobster Cycles. Paul’s always pretty busy and this trip was no exception. He was in the throes of planning the Rock Lobster Cup Two, which is being held at the lighthouse park in Santa Cruz. After talking about the course, why it was moved from Bonny Doon and how he’s planning on making a relatively flat course exciting, I decided I’d skip town yet again and come up to photograph the race. Hell, I might even jump in it.

Because you can’t swing by Rock Lobster and not take a few photos, I documented the shop’s current condition, which I might add, is the best I’ve seen it so far. Check out a few more photos below. (more…)

Oct 20, 2016 4 comments
Inside / Out at Black Cat Bicycles

Todd Ingermansen has been working in the cycling industry for a long time. Too long if you ask him. Since the age of 13 he’s had a presence in bike shops. What began as sweeping the shop floors eventually culminated into being a mechanic, riding bikes and living bikes. Yet, Todd wanted something more. Running parallel to his bike shop jobs was his art school education, where he realized his 2D and 3-dimension eye for details. In his early 20’s he chased his love of singlespeed MTB riding and racing to Oakland, California where cycling completely enveloped his life.

Back then, there weren’t any US manufacturers of singlespeed MTB frames. Or at least none that piqued Todd’s interest, so he began building his own. A few friends helped him out, some frames worked, some didn’t, yet every frame taught Todd something. Eventually he moved back down the California coast, to San Luis Obispo and began fillet brazing. He had built a dozen or so frames before landing a job with Rick Hunter of Hunter Cycles. Under Rick’s torch, Todd began to realize the importance of actually making a bicycle frame, something that stands true even today.

For the past 14 years, Todd’s been building a brand, and a modus operandi to how he believes bicycles should be made. Black Cat Bicycles are unique, arguably unlike anything else I’ve witnessed in my years of documenting framebuilders. Much like his mentor, Rick Hunter, Todd doesn’t just weld a mail order kit of parts together and paint it. He engineers his own dropouts, builds stems, machines metal into whatever he pleases, carves his own lugs and bends his tubing in very unique shapes. For instance, how do you make chainstays that are bent, yet have an ever-so-slight arc to them? (more…)

Oct 17, 2016 28 comments
Inside / Out at Stinner Frameworks

These days, Stinners are everywhere, even all over the pages of this website and while it might feel like some kind of marketing conspiracy, with loads of money exchanged and bathtubs filled with gold coins, I can assure you it’s not. Since I moved to Los Angeles, I see more Stinners on the road and in the trails. Rightfully so, seeing as how their shop is located in Santa Barbara, just 90 miles north of LA and yeah, they make some pretty stellar bikes. (more…)

Aug 10, 2016 22 comments
Shaping Cycling Culture in Nagoya with Circles Japan

Japan. An incredibly diverse country, filled with a rich history, which up until the modernization of the automobile, relied heavily on the bicycle. In fact, from the 1930’s through the 1960’s the bicycle was the most prized possession in Japanese households. Naturally with modernization comes new technology and with new technology came more affordable cars, designed specifically for the Japanese consumers. Soon, the attention of the Japanese people shifted towards the automobile. Alas, the bicycle may have taken a blow in terms of popularity, but it’s hardly fallen off the map. Almost every household still relies on a bicycle. With fuel taxes double what we have in the USA and pricey annual inspection bills, many families still run errands on bicycles. In Nagoya, the wealthiest city in Japan, made possible by Toyota being located there, the bicycle can still be found on the streets and sidewalks in mass numbers. (more…)

Jul 16, 2016 23 comments