Category Archives: frame builders
Chas’ Team TCB LOW ‘Cross Bike
Chas' Team TCB LOW 'Cross Bike

For SF’s TCB Courier, the busy summer months aren’t easy with all their deliveries yet the hustle and bustle of a day to day life of a bike messenger aids itself well for staying in shape. Especially come ‘cross season. This year, the team will be racing on the new LOW ‘cross frames. These frames are decorated with blue and orange paint, with each bottom bracket stamped with the racer’s name.

Made in house by Andrew, painted in San Francisco and designed from months upon months of PR&D from the guys on TCB, these bikes have been a project in the making for over a year. Personally, I love seeing two local companies working together like this. While it may seem like an easy move, both parties have worked their asses off to get to this point.

Real recognize real… Be on the look out for these bikes at the Bay Area ‘cross races this season. Oh and Chas, they left of the “H” in your last name!

If you’re a local, roll through City + County Bicycle Co tomorrow to check these out in person.

Aug 17, 2015 21 comments
The Lowdown at LOW Bicycles
Michael placing a decal.

While LOW Bicycles might be known best for their made in San Francisco track bikes, for the past year or so, they’ve begun to develop road and ‘cross frames. Debuted at NAHBS, the MKI road is Low’s first geared bike offering, selling in small production runs and starting as a collaboration with Cadence, a longtime supporter of the brand.

A lot has changed at LOW since my last visit. Andrew hired Michael full-time, who aids in everything from prep to production and finishing. This enables Andrew to focus on welding and keeping up with the ever-increasing demand for frames.

When I was at the shop, Michael was working on one of the LOW MKI ‘cross frames in their new color: safety orange. These frames are being raced by TCB Courier and should be available soon for purchase.

When visiting a longtime friend like Andrew, more time is spend chatting and catching up, but I did get a few photos of the shop, the new frames and his dog, Manny. Enjoy!

If you’d like to pick up a LOW, head to their web shop or email Andrew for availability of their new MKI road and MKI cross frames.

Aug 17, 2015 4 comments
My Independent Fabrication Deluxe Redux 29’r Loves California Sunsets
My Independent Fabrication Deluxe Redux 29'r Loves California

With all the Fat Chance love and rigid MTB shenanigans as of late, I thought it’d be a good time to share the current status of this bike, which has seen its share of changes since I acquired it in 2013.

For those who haven’t seen it before, the story is simple. Indy Fab wanted to build a modern Yo Eddy! with 29″ wheels, disc brakes and an original Chris Igleheart fork (who worked at Fat City Cycles back in the 80’s). The bike was part of a small run and named the Deluxe Redux. I picked mine up at NAHBS in a firesale and it’s one of those bikes that I’ll forget about for a bit, then start riding it and remember how much I love it.

This latest rendition came after I sent back the Black Cat Thunder Monkey, leaving me with an 1×11 XX1 group and its super wide gear range. Shortly afterwards I picked up a pair of the Industry Nine Velocity Blunt SS wheels and decided they’d be perfect for the Deluxe Redux. Then, I got the bright idea to put Blue Lug’s Nitto Bullmoose bars on it with a new Paul seatpost and a Brooks C15.

The thing about rigids, and hardtails in general is you want a nice, fat tire you can ride at lower pressures to ease some of the rough and rugged terrain you’ll find yourself hammering down. The Maxxis Ikon 2.35″ tires balloon out to a nice 2.5″ on the Blunt SS rims. Perfect for NorCal’s sandy singletrack. I have been very impressed with this tire choice. They’re great if you find yourself riding through a city en route to the trails…

For the past week, I’ve taken it camping and have been steadily shredding it in the Headlands, Sutro, Golden Gate Park and parts of Mt. Tam. With the rocky conditions of Austin, I always forget how much fun fast and flowy trails are. Granted, there are still a few moments where I feel like a 27.2 dropper post would come in handy, but I’m also comfortable dropping way behind the saddle to make room.

I’m not sure what it is about the bike, but since it weighs in at 23.5 lbs on the dot, I don’t have a problem keepin up with dudes on cyclocross bikes and with the bigger tires, I can blast the descents just fine. It’s snappy and with the saddle to bar drop, I don’t feel like I’m always riding upright like I do on my hardtail or full sus.

After last night’s talk with Chris Chance at Mission Workshop and hearing his comment about him being the grand dad of the segmented fork, I can really appreciate the ride quality this homage bike has delivered for the past few years. There are a few products on it that’ll get a review eventually, but if you have any questions, drop them in the comments.

Aug 16, 2015 32 comments
Marc’s LOW Track Crit Bike
Marc's LOW Track Crit Bike

In the world of track crits, like Red Hook Crit and this weekend’s Wolf Pack Hustle’s Civic Center Crit, racers quickly realize that a standard track bike might have its limitations.

Let’s look at what a track bike is designed for: all left turns on a banked velodrome, with walls around 45º steep for a 250m track.

These crits however are completely different. For starters, the amount of people racing is almost three times what a miss-n-out or win-in-out would have competing. There are both right and left turns, yet no banked walls. In road criterium racing, you can coast through the corners and rail all the turns. With a track bike you need to pedal all the time.

That’s where Marc’s one-off comes into play. He and Andrew from Low Bicycles discussed options for a bike that was bred from the conditions of track crits. How is it different? Well, in all things related to bike design, a few millimeters here or there can make a huge difference. The bottom bracket is higher, to make for more crank clearance in the turns and the wheelbase is a bit longer to make it easier to hit those turns at speed.

So far Marc has raced three or four crits on it, as well as taking it to Hellyer, the local track to race.

Me, I just think it’s a beautiful fucking machine. Made in San Francisco by Andrew Low, fitted with Ritchey parts and with PAUL wheels made by Fresh Air Bicycles.

Aug 14, 2015 12 comments
Inside and Out of the Falconer Cycles Workshop
White light

“I don’t have a studio, I have a workshop. I’m not an artist, I’m a fabricator…”

We were talking about the mystique surrounding custom frames and the public’s perception, or in many cases the perpetuation of preciousness associated with “bespoke” frames. Cameron Falconer isn’t an artist, he makes straight forward, utilitarian machines meant to shred. Sure, they’re tailored to fit and Cam’s years of racing and riding influence a lot of their nuances (water bottle cage placement for example) but these are bicycles, not art…


Aug 13, 2015 23 comments
Icarus Frames: Commuterando for Blue Lug

For frame builders, randonneuring, or commuter frames can present a bit of a headache with all of the braze-ons and clearance concerns. It certainly takes a bit of planning, fittings and patience. Ian Sutton at Icarus Frames recently published one such project on his blog.

This “commuterando” frame features unique bottom bracket cable routing, a custom stem with internal brake hanger and a bell mount. The classic proportions, round tubing and 650b 38mm tires make it comfortable for bumping around the city or cruising down a dirt path.

Kudos to Ben Falcon for the paint and a cross-Pacific high five goes to the crew at Blue Lug Tokyo for the build. See more detailed photos at the Icarus blog.

Aug 13, 2015 5 comments
Breadwinner Cycles: B-Road for a Seattle Commute

The team at Breadwinner recently built up a B-Road for a customer in Seattle with a decent commute to work. He wanted a commuter bike that was light and capable but also has all the right touches for a custom bike and would make his 15-20 mile trip each day enjoyable. Full Sram CX1 disc with Sugar Wheelworks built Enve rims and topped off with the new Silca Impero frame pump in custom paint to match the frame. Topped off with internally wired generator lights on the front and rear and a Tubus rear rack to help lighten the load.

Check out more photos at the Breadwinner Flickr.

Aug 12, 2015 18 comments
Geoff’s Raphael Cycles Touring Bike
Geoff's Raphael Cycles Touring Bike

Like many framebuilders, Rafi Ajl began his love for the bicycle at a young age but it wasn’t until after graduating from Harvard’s Graduate School of Design that he began pursuing his love for building bicycle frames. Ajl’s background is fine art and as such, his bicycles began functional art. Something you would not only love to look at, but would love to ride and would be able to do so for the rest of your life.

Perhaps it was Rafi’s passion for art, design and the bicycle that drew Geoff from Box Dog Bikes, a local, owner run co-op bicycle shop in the Mission of SF to Raphael Cycles’ work. Or maybe it was the proximity. Rafi Ajl is no longer making frames, but when he was, Raphael Cycles was literally blocks away from Box Dog Bikes.

Geoff wanted a classic touring bike with external routing, fender, rack mounts and a 1″ threaded headset. A seasoned tourer, randonnée, cyclocross racer, shredder of vintage mountain bikes and all-around capable cyclist, Geoff knew exactly what he wanted and has been thoroughly enjoying this bike. As evident by the years of use.

A SON hub powers the S3 lighting and a well-positioned and broken in Brooks saddle cushions and inviting a ride, so much that I pedaled this bike for an hour or so before finding the perfect spot to photograph it.

Aug 11, 2015 34 comments