Category Archives: portraits
This one’s a strange bird for sure. 1994 brought about a sea change in the mountain bike industry. The world was abuzz with full suspension bikes and suddenly manufacturers like Fat City Cycles found their hands forced to embrace this new technology. It was this year that Fat Chance joined forces with Serotta in New York. This manufacturing move allowed bikes like the Shock-A-Billy to be born, as well as increased production in the standard lineup including: a Ti Fat, Buck Shaver, Yo Eddy, Wicked Lite and the brand’s road bike, the Slim Chance. These frames featured quad butting, an aluminum AMP rear swingarm providing 2.75″ of travel and an optional Rock Shox Mag 21 fork.
How bikes like this survive for over 20 years and remain mostly intact continues to baffle me. Especially with builds like this: Ringle skewers, WTB VelociRaptor tires, White Industry hubs, Moto Ace Salsa stem, Syncros post and a working Shimano XTR group.
Fat City Cycles suffered a fatal blow in 2000, only to return in 2014 with a new plan… They’re back and you can own a modern Fat City.
As for vintage Fat City, if you really wanna go down the Fat City rabbit hole, read up at Mombat!
Born to Run: Whitney and Her 20/20 Cycle’s Kalakala
Words and photos by Kyle Kelley
She sweats it out on the back roads of an American Dream, riding through the mountains on a life saving machine. Sprung from the city on a one way line, polished wheels moving her forward most of the time. Whitney let us in, we wanna be your friend. We’ll ride till we drop, and we’ll never look back again.
The above words are from a song Bruce Springsteen never wrote, but I’m almost positive he would if he ever met Whitney Ford-Terry. She is a woman so enthralled with hitting the road that I wasn’t sure she knew any other way of life until I read her profile on Adventure Cycling. A life revolving around art galleries, alternative education, artistic research, working at non-profits, and most importantly getting lost in the woods on her bicycle. Whitney is equally comfortable working in museums like the MoMa or shooting the shit and drinking the boys under the table at whatever local bike shop she happens upon in her travels.
I became acquainted with Whitney when she reached out to me to discuss routes for a tour she was planning. She needed to get from Los Angeles to Joshua Tree for an artist residency and wanted to make the journey fun. We bounced ideas off one another for awhile and the route Whitney ultimately mapped out was hard enough to make most people call her crazy and shake their heads in disbelief. She decided to go straight up the San Gabriel Mountains, along the ridge and then over Mt Baldy to the high desert. With her route settled Whitney shipped her bike to Golden Saddle Cyclery to be built up.
Whitney’s 20/20 Cycle Kalakala is purpose built and can be configured to handle just about any bicycle tour you could imagine. Complete with DFL Stitchworks bags. This bike has never had a place to call home, Whitney has been riding it around the world for the last couple years and with that in mind I had no question about its ability to make it over the mountains I call home and to the Southern California High Desert that I love. Since photographing this bike it’s changed only ever so slightly with the addition of one more National Park badge to the fender, Joshua Tree.
Next time we wanna go with you, Whitney we were born to run!
P.S. If you happen to meet Whitney someday, ask her what hobo tattoos and Bruce Springsteen mean to her.
Follow Kyle on Instagram and Whitney on Instagram.
Kit builds aren’t Rick Hunter’s thing. You won’t find derailleur hangers ordered from a catalog in drawers, or your every day, run of the mill 44mm head tube waiting en queue for assemblage. Not at Hunter Cycles.
Rick Hunter is one of those builders that makes what I like to call utilitarian art. Utilitarian because each of his bikes are made to tackle one or many jobs efficiently and with a dash of fun. Or the other way around. Art because each bike is unique. Or rather, each run of production frames are unique. Be it a WoodRat, a Cyclo-Cross disc bike or a road frame. Rick will design, fabricate and finish his own cable stops, derailleur hangers and head tubes. There are a lotta hours put into each bike. More recently he’s been working on some feats of engineering and reverse practicality however with his completely insane Bushmaster bikes… (more…)
Photo by Derek Yarra
Dario Pegoretti is a true artist. A builder who’s known for his elaborate paintings as much as he’s regarded for his frame design and construction. His work evokes varied reactions spanning from awe to confusion and yet, there’s a beauty in each brush stroke.
Derek Yarra from Above Category recently visited Pegoretti’s shop in Italy and took some great photos, including this portrait. Head over to the AC Blog to see the rest!
Singlespeed ‘cross bikes on a course like Grinduro are no joke. For Lucas, the painter at Stoemper, the pain is part of the fun. The way he sees it, you’re grinning no matter what. Whether you’re spinning on the downhill or hiking up a steep kicker like China Grade, you might as well be enjoying the ride.
This SSCX was easily the wildest bike I saw the entire weekend. So. Much. Character. As I’m setting up the bike to photograph it, Lucas interrupted me, asking if he wanted me to remove the beer holster. “You’re riding it like that right?” “Yeah” “Then leave it!”
Races like Grinduro are best kept light and energetic in spirit. There’s no point in tearing yourself apart on a singlespeed, because you still have to make it to the finish!
You don’t necessarily need a custom frame to compete in PBP. In fact, you don’t even need a true randonneuring frame. James started that way, with a Trek touring bike which he converted to a 650b wheel size. After that didn’t work out as planned, he sought out an affordable 650b frameset before finally landing on the Soma GR v1, which he promptly stripped it of its logos and repainted.
Now that he had a frame, he wanted to make the build something unique. You see, he has a penchant for customizing otherwise overlooked details with his bikes. Logos stripped, levers and derailleurs polished. In fact, one of the only logos visible on his bike are the Rene Herse cranks.
This year James competed in PBP and after he landed back stateside, he reassembled his bike and promptly dropped it off at Golden Saddle Cyclery, where the guys fixed an issue with his rear Powertap hub.
My favorite details on this bike happen to be the brake dust swirls on the tires and the dented fenders. This bike has been through the shit, for sure.
The dog days of summer have landed in Los Angeles. After a completely amazing time in SF, I hopped on a plane and found myself in LA with an agenda unlike anything before: find a place to live and hopefully, an office to work out of. The stars aligned and my dirt sacrifices to the Necronomicog paid off. For the most part anyway. A new home base, somewhere to explore roads and uncover new experiences, or just spend time on the roads and trails with friends, old and new.
Los Angeles will be my new home town and this past trip was stunning on many levels. While this is by no means a story, it is a paraphrased visual showcase to just some of the rides we went on, many of which I’ll expand upon relocation to the west coast.
Coincidentally, because I can’t ever seem to leave for a ride without a camera, I managed to pull together some random photos, which make for a perfect distraction on a Friday afternoon.
In Los Angeles, a ‘cross bike’s limitations are self-prescribed. You can ride just about everything on one, as long as you’ve got the right equipment and the willpower. Bigger tires and appropriate gear range are paramount. Things like blinged-out componentry are just added bonuses to the spice of life. And in LA, the spice must flow.
Kelli‘s not necessarily new to cyclocross but this is her first legitimate ‘cross rig. Her husband Ty reached out to Aaron Stinner to make a bike that would embody race pedigree but still be at home in the hills and mountains of Los Angeles county and beyond. When she’s not running her women’s cycling team, LA Sweat, she’s trying to take on more off-road riding and this bike is more than enough motivation to do so.
PAUL Components, 3T, and a Luxe Wheelworks Chris King to H+Son Archtype wheel build all compliment the absolutely mind-fucking beautiful AirGlow paint job by Hill Clarke. If you like to geek out on painting procedure and process, make sure you check out Hill’s Instagram.
Before the comments open up, YES, technically the tires are on backwards here and yet the bike didn’t explode upon hitting the dirt. ;-)
Rust Never Sleeps on Sofia’s AWOL Touring Bike
Words by Erik Nohlin, photos by John Watson
TRUST ME, I’M A DESIGNER
As a designer of bicycles I try to stay on top of things like material development, new alloys, paint pigment, flakes, pearls, platings and whatnot. It’s in my interest to stay updated in an ever-changing world. What you see on the floor in a bike shop is not just a bicycle with a random color: it’s the result of hundreds or thousands of hours of trial and error behind the scenes at any one man bike shop or huge bike brand with a fleet of designers.
That one color started out as 666 other potential colors and in the end, only one made it. For the one man operation or smaller brand in a well-defined niche it might be easier to do cool and crazy shit to please that one customer with that weird request of a thermochromatic dead matte black that fades to metallic peach with a pride parade pearl to top it off. I design bicycles for a global brand and need to create a bike that pleases a global rider and as you all know, trends and cultural differences around the globe vary, fluctuate and make my day pretty complicated.
I’ll be honest with you: it’s frustrating to rarely ever be able to bring the raddest and weirdest stuff to you. One example is the one off Full Nuke Rainbow AWOL I created for the Transcontinental Race, a bike that almost blew up the internet when John posted it. So much stoke and love was thrown on that bike but the reality is that it would be impossible to produce it, guarantee the surface quality, get a decent price and distribute it to you. Doing rad stuff is easy but mass producing it is a completely different story. So, I try a lot of surface treatments and materials but most often these tryouts, experiments never leave the design studio as more than dirt on my hands, stains on my jeans and once in a while, a painted one off bicycle that I can tell you about.
The Rust AWOL is my wife Sofia’s bike and it used to look quite different. A super glittery rainbow flakey touring bike that was left in the hands of Garrett Chow on a journey to the heart of Death Valley early last winter. The washboard and dirt in Death Valley eat bikes for breakfast and the beat up bike that was returned to her had a couple of scars too many so I promised to bring it back to its “old glory”. The frame is one of the first nickel plated frame samples for the Transcontinental Edition AWOL we did and a perfect canvas to be creative on since the nickel makes it completely sealed for corrosion – ironic isn’t it? Rust is corrosion and in this case impossible to achieve without some chemical magic from a UK paint company called Rustique.
My colleague Barry Gibb had previously used it to create a fantastic surface on a carbon bike and I wanted to try it to, on steel this time. We ordered some paint and decided that Sofia’s nickel plated bike would be the victim for this experiment. The month of June is usually pretty mellow at work (read: not as completely fucking crazy as July and August) and I spent some afternoons in the workshop and paint booth to finish off this creative experiment in an effort to bring real organic life back to a surface that’s dead. In a step by step series on Instagram, I told a transparent story about the process of the #rustawol and here it is and for the first time, a somewhat finished bike. The project was crowned with a Brooks Cambium rust saddle and bar tape where the fabric matches the bike and the vulcanized rubber matches the tan wall tires nicely.
As a last step I gave the Supernova headlamp and the Tubus rack a kiss of iron oxide. The humid and cold San Francisco summer will continue to corrode and oxidize the surface even though it’s been sealed with a clear coat as I surprisingly discovered after picking up the bike today. I learned a ton on this project, got my hands dirty and created a bike that Sofia really seems to like. I love that I sometimes can show you the hands-on process of being a designer at a big brand when 90% of my work never leaves the design studio. Confidentiality keeps us all from sharing what I know a lot of you like seeing and know more about.
Personally, the making-of-dvd in the Indiana Jones DVD box is far superior to the movies themselves and getting dirty is the only way to learn something new.
Follow Erik on Instagram.
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.