Category Archives: Austin
Ben’s Koi Dreamin’ Schemin’ Specialized Crux SSCX
Ben's Koi Dreamin' Schemin' Specialized Crux SSCX

As I’m pedaling away from Mellow Johnny’s on Ben’s bike to photograph it, I couldn’t help but try to think of some clever way to describe it or at least the back-story. These days, custom paint is divided into a few categories with the most prominent being either high-concept or merely aesthetic. Truthfully, I’m not sure where this one sits on that spectrum.

When I look at this orange, yellow and black steed, it reminds me of some menagerie. It was painted by Dustin at Violet Crown Finishing in Austin, Texas. Close my eyes. Open them. I see a koi fish. Or a tiger. Moreseo, a koi though. Perhaps it’s the sparkles? Tigers don’t have sparkles. Was that Dustin’s inspiration? Who knows. Ben, the owner (a mechanic at MJ’s) has a lot of traditional Japanese tattoos.

When you ride a bike like the Specialized Crux, it’s hard to stand out from the other fish on the field. They’re literally a dime a dozen. Affordable, performance-minded, lightweight and they look great, right out of the box. Sometimes though, you want something a little more flashy, without springing for a custom frame.

The frame was a cheap pickup, actually a trade. The Giant wheels came from a friend, for free. The rest of the parts were scrapped from a free bin, save for the Pro cockpit and post. I don’t want to tell you how much money Ben has invested in this frame, because it’ll make you mad. That and his friend Dustin wanted to really paint a bike.

You don’t need to go custom to have the custom experience. Painters are just as talented as builders and they have the ability to transform even a bike like the Specialized Crux into something that will truly stand out from the other fish in the school.

Case in point… wow.

Jun 11, 2015 22 comments
Andre’s Road Shark with Shimano 600
Andre's Road Shark with Shimano 600

The allure of the eBay score is strong, especially after so many Landsharks have been recently featured here on the site. Such temptation was too great for Andre. After looking on eBay for a few months, he finally scored this Road Shark with Shimano 600 for $400. It came as shown, minus some dry-rotted tires and no saddle, which were easily replaced. It’s in ok overall condition, just don’t look too closely at the bar tape!

The future of this bike is uncertain. There’s been talk of long-reach calipers, 650b conversion with porteur bars, or a modern 10-speed group, and my vote goes to keeping it as-is, just overhaul the damn thing a bit. For now, Slawta’s crazy personal touches shine regardless as to how much patina is present. My favorite detail is the chomping shark mouth on the internal cable routing exit…

May 25, 2015 33 comments
Mellow Johnny’s Frame Builder Happy Hour in Austin
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Hey Austin, Texas, you (we) have a lot of great framebuilders in town. Many of which can build you a completely custom bicycle for less that what you’d pay for a made-by-machines carbon high end frame. Understandably, it’s difficult to commit to a high-dollar item, but Mellow Johnny’s has put together a meet and great happy hour on June 12th in order to lower that barrier for entry.

Head over to Mellow Johnny’s for more information and you can trust that these builders are more than capable at delivering a product you’ll want to always ride.

May 25, 2015 4 comments
Tyler’s Engin Cycles 29+ Rigid MTB
Tyler's Engin Cycles 29+ Rigid MTB

Drew from Engin Cycles is a wizard of custom mountain bike framebuilding. Over the years, he has built some of the most dialed titanium bikes I’ve seen. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rowdy hardtail with 140mm of travel up front, or a snappy, steep XC race machine to tear the field apart, what Engin offers to their customers is custom, performance machinery.

So where does a 29+ rigid mountain frame come into play? It’s not exactly performance, but it does offer up a unique problem solving opportunity. One that Drew couldn’t pass up.

Tyler’s bike utilizes Paragon’s 29+ yoke to ensure chainring and tire clearances. The rigid steel fork is painted with cerakote, as are the frame accents and Tyler chose a mix of X9 cranks, XX1 rear mech and XTR brakes, with a Stan Hugo up front and a Blunt SS on the rear. The Groovy bars really just add the icing on the cake for me.

Fatter tires at a low pressure are perfect for Austin’s Greenbelt trails, which offer a rocky, rooty and sometimes slick environment. Tyler’s been vibing with this bike all spring and is sold!

See more for yourself in the Gallery.

Apr 28, 2015 26 comments
A Weekend Off

Sometimes, you just need to leave the laptop closed for a weekend, keep the “real camera” in its storage case and just ride. For me, especially this time of year, that rarely happens. There’s hardly ever a weekend where I’m not on the road, or preparing for a trip, or dumping and archiving photos, but it just so happened that everything aligned just right this weekend.

Ty came into town to hang out before heading out on a bikepacking trip outside of Austin. We spent two full days doing nothing but riding mountain bikes (for Ty, that means massive gaps on the ride home), swimming, eating good food and just hanging out. It coincided with my birthday weekend, which was a plus, so there was a party with a lot of my close friends.

All of these things falling in line with each other were super rare and yeah, I still can’t leave home without even a pocket camera (usually an iPhone works pretty ok), so check out a few more photos, with brief captions below.


Apr 26, 2015 2 comments
SRAM: GX in Austin Texas – Far and Wide

Back during cross nats, the guys from SRAM were in Austin, filming a video spot for their new GX mountain group. I pointed them to a bunch of my favorite trails to ride, with the caveat that it’s all pretty unnavigable. They took off, scouring the Barton Creek Greenbelt, Pace Bend and other trails for a ripping good time and here’s the final product. Locals will recognize a lot in here (like the top of Quarry) and it’s rad to see my favorite spots gets shredded.

Morgan, let’s go skid leaves, baby…

Also, as a bonus, read on below for some words by Morgan Meredith and photos by Adrin Marcoux from the trip.


Apr 9, 2015 5 comments
Sub 24 Sunset Chasing

Lauren and I have done plenty of camping and she’s done her share of cycling around town, but we’ve never gone on a bicycle camping trip together. Yesterday morning, I was surprised to hear her ask if I wanted to get in some tent time before I headed out on the road again on Friday.

So last night, I packed up some bags, a tent, my trusty Lodge cast iron skillet and food for two meals. We headed out to the closest state park in the area: McKinney Falls. The route there is pretty easy, even loaded down with a bunch of gourmet food, wine, a hatchet and a skillet. I took it slow and coached Lauren through the climbs, we stopped for photos and tried our best to ignore the impatient rush-hour traffic zipping past. The weather looked nice, with bright blue sunny skies. It didn’t rain this go-round, but it was still quite enjoyable…

I didn’t think this mandated a whole gallery, so check out a scrolling story below.


Apr 8, 2015 15 comments
Lucas’ Icarus Classic Road with Campagnolo Athena
Lucas' Icarus Classic Road

Blending steel with stainless can yield marvelous results, especially when done so through the use of chevrons. To then carry those lines into a frame’s paint is whole ‘nother level of beauty. Ian Sutton of Icarus Frames‘ latest road machine was recently built up at Mellow Johnny’s.

The owner, Lucas, wanted a classic road with modern componentry and a 26.0 bar. Campagnolo Athena 11-speed with a Nitto M179 STI bar and a custom fillet stem delivered the perfect kit for this bike, resulting in an elegant road machine. White Industries T11 to H+Son Archetypes and Paul skewers offer one of the nicest wheelsets for those looking for a classic flair and modern tech.

There are so many details in this bike, that I might have gone overboard with the photos: Stainless stays, stainless fork blades, internal routing and that head tube cluster, all matched with a beautiful chevron design at the bottom bracket. Ben Falcon at the Horse Cycles delivered one hell of a paint job!

Enjoy this bike, Lucas!

Apr 8, 2015 23 comments
The Strawfoot Easter Egg Hunt in Austin Was a Success!
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“Take the path less traveled going west and find me atop a metal nest….”

This morning on a quick road ride, I snuck down into an old trestle bridge and hid the Strawfoot pouch, containing stickers, top caps, a pair of Strawfoot Arcade socks and a special coupon for the prize. Before Jonathan and I had finished our ride, a handful of people had shown up around the same time to snipe the egg.

Gavin was the first to the bag, yet he shared the bounty with the other easter egg hunters. We met up shortly after and I gave him his prize: the James Brand knife. Color me jealous!

We’re all stoked on this contest and would like to thank all parties involved!

Mar 31, 2015 5 comments