Chris Chance is bringing back Fat Chance Bicycles. Making a killer bike back in the day wasn’t easy and bringing it back to life 15 years after closing down shop can’t be either. Chris will be speaking at Mission Workshop San Francisco Saturday August 15th.
“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…
Hey SF, if you’re looking for something to do tomorrow night, August 13th, make sure to check out the Moth Attack CX art auction at the ALITE Outpost. Details are above in the flier. See ya there!
This bike is not as it seems. Sure, it says Falconer and it uses Cameron’s signature no-nonsense solid color powder coat but it’s not technically a Falconer.
When Jason at Montano Velo was looking for a local frame builder to produce a new road frame for his in-house brand Broakland, he was introduced to Cameron at Falconer Cycles. Cam, as they call him, had some extra time and enjoyed making production bikes, so he built this frame as a job interview for the position.
The tricky part: tig welding S3 tubing, a True Temper offering that has a bad reputation for being brittle and in general, difficult to work with. Difficult to work with yet a pleasure to ride. Since S3’s seat tube offerings are limited to a 1.125″ diameter and the S3 top tube measures 1.25″ in diameter, Cameron took to Solid’s seat tube cluster sleeve to solve not only the difference in diameter but as a reinforcement for what is essentially a crack-prone area of an S3 bike.
For the fork, Jason’s a fan of the Wound Up. A fork that’s polarizing in terms of consumer’s aesthetic preferences. Some hate it, some love it and for Bay Area cyclists who began their passage into cycling on a track bike, Wound Ups offered a bomb-proof solution to a street-thrashed track bike with a bent or cracked fork. As Cameron and I were discussing the fork, we both concluded that we’re not a fan of them aesthetically, but they ride really damn well.
Oh, he got the job and began making the frames… Months later, Cameron still had this frame in his shop and it wasn’t until a customer requested pink powder for his own bike that he decided to get it coated. From there, it became a home for his thrashed Dura Ace group and now it’s Cameron’s only road bike.
There’s more to the Falconer story coming soon. If you want to know more about the Caballo road frame, head to Broakland.
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.
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…
I was long overdue for a work-related trip…
After packing my bags and my bike into a box, I boarded a plane for one of my favorite cycling destination cities in the US: San Francisco. Let’s backtrack a bit first though. In SF, it’s essential to stay with friends, if you have any that live there. Luckily, I have a few and one couple has been my go-to host home in recent trips: Erik and Sofia from the Great Escape.
When I asked Erik if I could crash with him while I was in town, he obliged and then invited me on a impromptu camping trip the Saturday I arrived into town. My flight got in late, so as I was packing my bike, I loaded my Porcelain Rocket bags with the gear I’d need for a sub-24 hour jaunt into some Marin hills.
Oakland is home to many bike shops, of which happen to be the LBS for many Bay Area cyclists…
Bay Area people, dwellers of Santa Cruz and San Jose listen up: the crustacean king at Rock Lobster is throwing a pre-season cyclocross cup on August 29th at the Bonny Doon Airport. There’s something for everyone, so if you can make it out, do so!
“Salsa Cycles takes you around the world with the launch of their new word touring bike, we’re excited to be one of the first to carry it but it’s a secret! You will just have to join us to see what all the fuss is about.
And Swift Industries cooks up amazing camp food to fuel the ride with taste testing, cooking demonstrations and different stove and food options. Moroccan food and drinks will be provided along with great music.”