Category Archives: portraits
From the backcountry of Alberta, Canada to the Italian countryside…
It’s been a whirlwind month here at the Radavist and so before this beaut gets lost on a hoard drive, I really wanted to share it. This bike was owned by Emilio De Marchi and still resides in their storefront which has been here since 1951. The frame itself is from the early 1960’s and is labeled under the brand’s name De Marchi. This cruiser was made in the same town as their garments from a small time builder of which no one could remember his name.
Over the years, it got updated with a more modern mix of parts including Campagnolo GS and NR. Most impressive to me are the droves of old Italian men who ride bikes like this in Conegliano, where the bicycle is the way of life for many people.
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.
Niner’s ROS 9+ One Hell of a Good Time
Words and photos by Kyle Kelley
The White Rim Trail in Utah’s Canyonlands NP has been on my radar for awhile. I imagined I would do it on a cross bike, carrying only the necessary food and water, one small camera and riding from the early morning to early evening. The reality ended up being quite a bit different. I rolled out on a Mid-Fat outfitted with custom bike bags, carrying 7 liters of water and enough food to feed a kindergarten class for two days! Shit… I even brought an abnormally large camera (at least for me) in addition to my standard point and shoot just because there was still room in the bags. I was rolling in luxury and the bike that made that possible was the Niner ROS 9+!
If any city merits a good, solid track bike or singlespeed, it’s London. The traffic is like an organism. Sometimes predatory, othertimes symbiotic. It’ll swallow you whole, or let you surf the wave of continuous flow. Die-hard fixed gear and track bike riders will sing their bike’s praises in these conditions, while guys like Charlie will take all that and run a different direction.
Charlie is the owner of Seabass Cycles. He’s had this Ted James Design ESB, or extra strong bike for a few years as a fixed gear. The premise behind these frames was to take a track geometry and tweak it with a few BMX or MTB influences: bigger tire clearances, gussets and body language.
The Speedvagen Urban Racer. How can I even begin here? These bikes are… uh. Well, they’re kinda completely ridiculous. They’re not a traditional commuter bike, a cruiser, or a touring bike. They’re not meant to be loaded down with gear, or to be casually ridden around a park. Like a cafe racer of the bicycle world, these rigs are stripped down machines, meant to be ridden like a rocket… on 27.5 wheels and 43mm tires. Skids anyone?
Heritage is not something that can be bought, or self-prescribed. It’s grown and nurtured over time. Heritage is not a by-product of the self aware, or the overly ambitious. It can’t be self-stated either. Not unless your company began in 1946 and the whole time, has had a presence both locally and internationally in this world we so often call the cycling industry.
De Marchi apparel was started by Emilio De Marchi shortly after WWII. It began as a motorcycle and cycling store in an era where there were no cycling-specific jerseys. If you cycled, you wore the same jersey that you played futball in, or wore while you rode your motorcycle.
It wasn’t until the late 1980’s that De Marchi stepped away from motorcycle apparel to focus solely on cycling. This was after multiple cycling brands had offered to buy De Marchi for a hefty profit, yet Emilio stuck to it. Again, heritage.
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…
Vacation. Holiday. 3-day weekends. From Memorial Day until Labor Day, the road is wide open and the sun is putting in overtime. Taking advantage of those days is key to sucking the last drop from life and its possibilities.
Last summer, I bought a 4 banger Tacoma pickup in Portland and it kickstarted a whole series of road trips. Most of which centered around cycling-related themes or events but it was the interstitial spaces and moments that I remember vividly. Sunsets, sunrises, rain, fog, wind. All of these had a specific scent and sensation. Most of which were captured visually throughout those long summer months.
I carried my Mamiya 7ii with me on every trip, loaded with Portra 400 220 film. It wasn’t until recently that I finally sat and dug through it all, compiling a Gallery of these moments and vignettes. They’re mostly in the correct order, beginning in Portland and traveling down south.
A lot of these spots are well-known, others not so much but they all serve one purpose: to inspire you to travel to the West Coast and see what you’re missing. Pardon the succinct nature of this intro, but there’s not much to say. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Slack and low, with bigger tire clearances this time. That’s the main difference between this bike and its predecessor. As noted in the previous bike’s gallery, the first version of this bike wasn’t what I wanted. Luckily, Seth Rosko is a good friend of mine and a very capable frame builder. He’s also human and humans make mistakes. What makes a human a great human and a great framebuilder is their ability to rectify those mistakes.
We had a miscommunication, and there was a fabrication error that resulted in a frame with clearance for 2.0 29’r tire in the rear. It’s something that happens from time to time. Framebuilders make mistakes. Chainring clearances, missing or incorrect cable stops, off-square rear triangles. You’re getting a functional piece of art and art has character. Right? Maybe not so much. It needs to function, above all.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s move onto what I’m calling my “Agave Slapper” hardtail. This version clears a 2.4 Ardent on the rear, has a 69º head tube angle, a mid-range BB drop and an option for a 2x or 3x front ring. It’s easy to get it low through corners and in Texas, that means the occasional run in with the blue agave plant, where its color was inspired.
Fluoro and functionality. That’s what caught my eye when I first saw Justin‘s Serotta T Max mountain bike. That and the big ol’ Columbus Max OR sticker (I have a crush on that tubeset). Justin took what many would consider an obsolete 26″ frame, added mustache bars to it, a rack with a Wald basket and flat pedals, resuscitating it back to daily use. Of course it still shreds dirt, but it also shreds to and from work. Now we gotta find you a front derailleur dude.
Bum tracks, fire roads, singletrack beware, this Serotta T Max is looking for lunch!