Category Archives: commuter bike
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
No Compromises: A Firefly Super Commuter

For some people, commuting by bicycle to work each day is the only time they’re assured time on the bike, so making those rides as enjoyable as possible is an added bonus. When it comes to Firefly, I can’t think of a better ride experience, so starting your day on something like this must be an extra special treat. Check out more at the Firefly Tumblr.

Jan 24, 2018 13 comments
Carlos’ Spectre Fab Commuter with Sim Works Fun 3 Bars

Sometimes, you come across a part and literally imagine a bike that would best suit it. This mindset seems backwards but it happens all the time. People justify a complete bicycle over a vintage French chainguard or a set of fenders, I’ve even seen people obsess over a crankset, yet in this case, it was the Sim Works Fun 3 bars that got Carlos‘ brain ticking over a bike. Having extensive experience fabricating bicycle frames, he found himself in the unique position to begin making his own bikes. It’s one of those things where if he had more free time, it probably would have already happened, but having to work full-time as a fabricator has put a damper on his plans of launching a company. For now, all he has is a name, a direction, and this bike.

Spectre Fab will eventually be a no-nonsense, tig-welded, custom and stock frame company specializing in bikes that like to get thrashed and used, not abused. This bike, in particular, is meant to handle like a fun, zippy track bike but with gears, bigger tires and yeah, the unique and fun riding position of the Fun 3 bars.

Carlos has taken this bike all over the dirt roads in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and then some. It’s his go-to commuter, cutty singletrack machine, with plenty of details to make even someone like me spend extensive time investigating it, piece by piece. I love bikes like this because ultimately, it’s their owners who have the idea, but it’s the bike that does all the talking.

Keep an eye on the Radavist for future updates as events warrant on Spectre Fab.

Aug 23, 2017 25 comments
Nils’ Cycle Fab Long Haul Trucker Cargo Bike

A bicycle can often times be a time capsule for an individual’s journey. Be it a tale told through road grime, dust, dents or a augmented addition like a cargo retrofit.

Nils has had this Surly Long Haul Trucker for over a year and a half. In that time it’s gone through various permutations with the documented version being the most current, obviously. A LHT is already a pretty versatile bicycle, yet Nils wanted the ability to carry more weight, lower and honestly, just wanted to try something new. The retrofit was done by the same talent that makes the Haulin Colin racks. It’s actually a pretty simple process. You supply your axle to crown and head tube angle to Colin and he fabs up a steerer extension, a downtube brace and a rack. A few weeks pass and viola. Cargo bike.

I have to say, this is one of the first bikes I’ve shot in a while that has whole-hearted character, not purchased style. The little brackets he bent by hand to hang his rear light off the Brooks saddle bag hoops and his hand-painted accents on the frame completely tie in with Nils’ character. The dude is tall, with a commanding beard, yet his energy fills the room through his smile and laughter.

During the day, Nils fills his hours as a part time middle school teacher and a part time ceramic artist. On the weekend, he’s out riding in the Angeles National Forest, or just kicking around town on this magnificent bicycle. I’ve met a lot of people through Golden Saddle Cyclery, but for some reason, Nils really resonated with me. Check out more photos in the Gallery and follow along with Nils’ rides at his Instagram.

Nov 11, 2015 39 comments
Matt’s 44 Bikes Commuter

This was an interesting experience. It wasn’t part of the festival and it didn’t look like anything special at first. Matt’s commuter has the #4 serial from Kris at 44 Bikes. It’s a singlespeed made for zipping around town with three unique details: a Mike Flanigan fork with a custom 44 Bikes rack and a special cable hanger Kris machined and mounted to the Thomson stem.

My favorite thing about bikes like this is the amount of use it has seen…

Oct 6, 2015 23 comments
FBM’s Raconteur Urban Riding Bicycles

FBM makes bad-ass frames in the US of A. Central New York to be exact and the latest noble steed and steedette (?) is their new Raconteur urban riding bicycles. With completes starting at $1,700, these mens and womens frames might pique your interest. Check out more at FBM!

Sep 21, 2015 Comments are OFF
Chris’ Dark Horse Icarus Commuter

Part commuter, part touring bike, beautiful functionality with that Icarus flair.

Chris wanted a bike that did all of the above. Having already commissioned Ian to build him a matte black road bike, he knew exactly what he wanted in a commuter. Tubus titanium racks, SON hub, Edelux lamp, Chris King, Paul components, custom painted Berthoud fenders, Swift Industries panniers, Jack Brown Blues and White Industries cranks, all being operated by SRAM’s XO long cage rear derailleur and barcons.

A lot of the parts selection was informed by my Geekhouse when Chris was selecting his kit. Dependability was the most important issue yet as we said earlier, it needed to be beautifully functional.

Maybe he’ll have time to get out on a tour? Or maybe it’ll just serve him as it has for the past year as a commuter for Austin, TX.

The poll is in and we have a winner… Get Ian from Icarus Frames to build you a winner by contacting him.

Sep 8, 2015 35 comments
Peter’s Serotta Legend Ti Gates Belt Drive Commuter

What do you do with that old racing frame you had for over a decade after you decide racing just isn’t for you? Or those gaudy old wheels kicking around the bike shop you’ve worked at for just as long? For Peter, one of Mellow Johnny’s longest running employees, he got crafty.

Peter has had this frame since 2003, when it was fit with an actual road group. At the time, the titanium and carbon Serotta Legend was a rocket. Stiff rear triangle, compliant front end, or so they say. Whatever the marketing behind this bike was, within its design lay a beautiful possibility.

Those bolts, holding the seat stays to the dropouts can be serviced. If they can be serviced, they can be removed so Peter took the initiative to put a Gates Carbon Belt Drive system they had at Mellow’s to the test by installing the belt through that split in the stays.

There he was, with a decade-old, balleur commuter rendered in green and gold. What else could he do to this bike to put it over the top? How about a set of gold Campagnolo wheels from 2008? Voila. Personally, I think this bike is so wacky that it works and it’s been Peter’s go-to ride for years… Run what you brung.

Jul 23, 2015 34 comments