Category Archives: portraits
“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…
The more I see the work of Cameron Falconer in person, the more I love his bicycles, especially his rigid 29’r model. Designed for everything from trail riding to multi-day bikepacking, these bikes have multiple layers of functional details. From the multiple water bottle braze-ons, to the segmented forks and custom racks, these bikes can be outrigged to take on anything you throw at them.
Gabe‘s bike in particular is a prime example. I first saw it in person when we went on our little camping trip Saturday night. The British Racing Green disappears in the low-laying shrubbery lining the hills outside of San Francisco, perfect for stealth camping and the no-hassle component build is easily serviceable from any number of spare parts bins you might find at shops while on the road during a trip.
While much of the drivetrain is no-nonsense, Gabe splurged a bit on the Thomson parts, the Jones H-bar, Paul thumbies and Spurcycle bell. Maxxis ardents provide ample puncture protection and trail bite while loaded and the Brooks saddle will continue to ripen with age. Yep. This is about as good as it gets in my opinion.
My favorite detail? The size small Revelate frame pack, cleverly hooked on the cable boss and bottle cage and the front derailleur mounting under the seat tube bottle cage…
$600. That’s how much Jacob paid for his Team Fat Chance frame on eBay. It was in pristine condition with the original Yo Eddy! fork and a brand new paint job. Here’s when the collector would begin to scrounge up all the NOS parts to restore it to its original glory, yet all Jacob wanted was a bike he could ride Austin’s Greenbelt trails on. Even with the rebirth of a Fat Chance brand, there’s something to be said about 20-year steel frames. Especially with a legacy like Fat City.
While most of the build is straight forward, the Bullmoose bars and Velocity Cliffhanger rims, laced to Deore hubs are the standout details. Now his Onza tires are tubeless, which means he can run lower pressure and not worry about snakebikes on limestone ledges and the Deore hubs will be easily serviceable after the rain brings creek crossings.
His 1x setup was made possible by a clutch Deore derailleur and a Wolf Tooth ring, mounted to vintage Shimano cranks and braking is being taken care of by Chico’s finest, Paul Components.
For around $1,500, Jacob built up a vintage mountain bike with style and while it might not tackle a rock garden as fast as a modern full sus bike, sometimes the ride isn’t about being timed.
Cole and Jonathan at Mellow Johnny’s did a great job on the build and this bike looks so good covered in limestone dust. Shred on, buddy.
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.
This Tannenwald Luchs 29 was hanging at the Tune Factory and I just had to shoot it. From what I gather, Tannenwald is a local favorite. Honestly, I didn’t know much about the brand besides the frames being built in Germany. I reached out to to them and got a little bit of information about the company.
Tannenwald is Rüdiger (Rudi) Kupper and Stefan Lichtner. The frames are all handcrafted by Stefan in Palatinate, Germany. “Back to the roots” refers to their “commitment to the finest steel construction and craftsmanship”. The LUCHS 29 was inspired by a 42km long MTB trail near the builder’s house. This LUCHS is built with Tune components and has the Schwarzwald-themed paint scheme.
I love how much this bike represents the region, all the way down to the Tune Componentry. She looks like quite the ripper if you ask me.
Fairwheel Bikes in the US stocks all of Tune’s componentry. If you see something you like, they probably have it in stock. If they don’t, they can order it for ya!
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Austin has a certain gravity. It attracts cyclists of all wheel types and for Matt, he wasn’t drawn here for the road cycling, or mountain biking. Matt began his experience with the bicycle on a BMX. He’s from Australia and Austin has always been the mecca for BMXing in the US. His friends here range from pros to companies like T-1, where he stays while in town.
It wasn’t until a surf trip in Mexico a while back where he finally got a bicycle. If you’d call it that. A clapped-out rig took him for hundreds of miles to visit a friend before he finally realized what he wanted in a bike. Later, a custom Bilenky allowed him to tow his surfboard on trips and the touring hook was set.
Fast forward a few years and Matt wanted to do something on his own. Since he’s not a framebuilder, he met up with a friend who’s dad was. They began talking about cycling and what it meant to Matt before drafting up a CAD drawing and getting a few prototypes made overseas. Crust Bikes was born. Sort of. Still incubating, this company right now spreads the stoke over Instagram, where Matt shares his travels and sells small items like patches, bottles and trucker caps.
Matt hopes to be building frames here in the States, under the welder of an experienced builder up in the North East. His first model would be this Evasion touring bike. Built for 26+ (Knard 3″), 650b or 700c wheels, the Evasion has the clearance and the confidence for everything from a sub 24 hour camping trip to full on excursion style riding.
I caught up with Matt last week and shot some photos of this unique rig. Built with a Rohloff, it’s virtually maintenance free. The Swift Industries bags, Brooks Saddle and other companents tell a tale through their patina. One that you too can follow along at @AFewSketchyMoments and @Crustbikes on Instagram
There’s nothing like taking a brand new bike and throwing it into the proverbial fire.
Bikes like this are not meant to be babied, nurtured, wiped down with a micro-fiber cloth and sprayed with chemicals to make them look shiny. They’re meant to be abused, smashed, shredded and put to the test, straight out of the gate. Especially bikes specifically designed for arguably one of the most intense endurance races in the Continental United States.
The Salsa Cutthroat is what I would call a first for the company. In the sense that it’s a bike designed for a specific event: the Tour Divide Race.
Over the next few days, I’ll be rolling out coverage from what we all began to call the “Tour Divide Simulation Ride” but first, I’d like to begin with a quick gallery from the Grand Depart in Banff, Alberta.
Traditionally, the race begins in the YWCA parking lot, just across the river from the main tourist thoroughfares in Banff. This year’s turnout was the biggest yet, with around 150 people registering for the race. A quick headcount revealed around 130 at the start, with a handful of people beginning a day early or later that morning.
Still, to see a Grand Depart this size for a race like the Tour Divide was more than I expected and quite the scene. Men, women, old, young and even a canine left Banff with aspirations of finishing this grueling challenge. Over the next few weeks their mind, body, bike and soul will be put to the test…
Our trip was a bit easier but even after three days on the road, I have a new found respect for anyone willing to tackle such a feat. Best of luck to all the racers and riders still out there on the TDR.
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.