I love long-term reviews. “Here, take this bike, travel with it and shred it for around six months, then send it right back to us.” Pretty ideal, huh? Especially when there’s a no-strings-attached policy. If you like it, do a review, or don’t, no big deal. Just get out and ride it. For The Radavist, that’s how I like to do product reviews: honestly and with no commitments. The problem is, you’ve got to be really stoked on a bike to want to ride it a bunch, and then photograph it / write about it.
Reviewing bikes is something I don’t often do, partially because I rarely get the chance to ride anything else besides my own bikes but mostly because so few companies contact me to review their bikes. One of the companies that has embraced what I’m doing over here is Santa Cruz and I can’t complain. Great company, great bikes and as I said before, no strings attached.
When Santa Cruz offered to send me out a Tallboy LTC with SRAM’s new – at the time – XX1 groupet back in December, I obliged! Who wouldn’t? I traveled with it, raced it a few times and rode the shit out of it for half a year.
While the world of the $8,000 – $10,000 MTB is certainly saturated at this point, I’ve ridden a few of them and yet I keep wanting to come back to the Tallboy and its unique riding characteristics. The best way I can describe the way this bike rides is solid. There’s no “plastic feel” to the frame, no annoying resonance when you hit technical sections and when the bike tells you to go in a particular direction, it’s usually on point… What often requires honing are your own skills and your confidence on that bike in particular.
Let me begin this post with the phrase: don’t blow up the spot, bro. Now, I know I’m posting photos of a few hidden gems, but you don’t have to name them… That said, we also were given “special permission” to access these spots from land owners, so, again #dontblowupthespot, bro. Also, also, remember one thing: this is Texas, people have a lot of guns and a particular connection to their private property. I’ve dealt with angry land owners before. Let me tell you, it ain’t worth it.
Now that that’s out of the way…
Central Texas can be quite unforgiving in the summer months and the only bastian for relaxation are limestone swimming holes, sink holes, aquifers, lakes and other vessels for holding water. The problem is: every frat boy bro and his messy friends camp out with coolers of beer and boom boxes, littering and ruining a lot of these swimming locales, leaving my friends and I seeking refuge in lesser-known locations.
Be it on a mountain bike, cross bike, or in this case, simply driving outside of the Austin area to swim has proven to be quite fruitful this summer in particular. We hike in and leave nothing but footprints and tire tracks.
Last sunday, we ruled summer as we partook in some classic Central Texas cliff jumps and lounging… enjoy the Gallery!
Tools of the trade:
Mamiya 7ii / 80mm
Kodak Portra 400
There are very few experiences like riding a custom bicycle, but when it comes down to it, there are plenty of frames out there that are completely fitting for most people. These frames were designed to be raced, or just plain ridden, like many of the bikes on the market today. While they might not be custom-fit, they were fine-tuned for their intended use. In short: if the frame fits, shred the shit out of it.
Cole was looking for a new road frame last year and while it was tempting to go continue saving for a custom steel rig, he decided to keen an eye on eBay and Craigslist, in hopes that something, light, tight and Italian might pop up in his size. Low and behold, it did. A NOS Rossin crit frame from the early 90’s hit eBay one day and soon, it arrived in Austin. All for around $700.
He chose Campagnolo Athena 11, Mavic Open Pro rims, a classic 3TTT Pro Chrome Columbus stem, Deda bars, Zipp post, Fizik Antares VS saddle, Speedplay pedals and some reliable Conti rubber. The build is very tasteful and the lines of this classic race bike are seducing enough for even the seasoned carbon ‘pro-minded’ consumer to second guess their recent ‘upgrade’…
Thanks for dropping by the office today Cole!
A while back, I featured Andre, my new intern’s Stoemper Cross. Well, since then, he got in a wreck and folded the top tube in half. He was pretty bummed, as you might imagine, but luckily for him, a friend who used to work at Co-Motion had this magenta Lucifer frameset sitting in his garage since the 2005 Interbike when he bought it…
When Austin, Texas based Fairdale first came onto the cycling market, it all began with the Skate Rack. Soon, ex-pro BMXr Taj Mihelich and his team at OTX began designing commuter bikes and other around-town / get outta-town rides.
From there, Fairdale grew and in my opinion, it wasn’t until the Weekender OG that the company reached its full potential. A 1×9 disc, townie bar cruiser quickly took over. Now just about every city has fleets of Weekenders rolling around, all built up differently, as per the customer’s specific needs. Even the production models have options now: a drop bar with disc and a canti version.
For 2014, Fairdale is set to release their most ambitious project yet: the Goodship road bike. A race-inspired geometry, paired with Fairdale sensibilities. Utilizing the Odyssey integrated head tube, scaled for a road bike, an ENVE road fork and a custom pulled Japanese Drawnright tubeset. This tubeset is custom butted, heat treated, custom shaped and tuned to Fairdale’s specifications.
Somewhere down the line, I developed a curse. Not unlike something a gypsy would bestow upon some unfortunate vagabond. My curse, however is related to cycling, specifically, any kind of ride or trip that involves camping…
The Rivendell Ramboullet, a multi-purpose road bike with long reach calipers and clearance for up to a 38c tire. It’s a super practical light tourer and everyday ride, made even more practical with S&S couplers.
Gideon’s got an eye for bicycle builds. This Campagnolo-equipped machine has all the right components, in the right places. Even the TA cranks look great with the pewter paint job. The Rambouillet was always one of my favorite Rivendell models but it’s unfortunately no longer available. Although the Roadeo is a pretty close match.
Earlier this week, he swung by the new office here in Austin and I shot some photos as he downed a Topo Chico (he is usually downing all my bourbon)…
In the past few years, Brian Chapman has shifted interest in frame building. Initially, he was half of Circle A Cycles but recently, he began building under the moniker, Chapman Cycles.
The work Brian is producing at Chapman Cycles is exceptional. Not that his work at Circle A was lacking in any regard, but going out on his own allowed Brian to really pursue his vision of what cycling truly means to him.
When I look at David Wilcox’s road frame, I see Chapman Cycle’s future, even though this bike was built years before Brian began building for his new venture. Geometrically speaking, this is a road bike with a traditional geometry, but functionally, it’s much more.
Rack, fender mounts and clearances for up to a 33.3 slick, this bike is a “long ride” road. It was built for the Oregon Manifest, specifically for David Wilcox, or as he’s known in the Northeast, “the Wilcox“.
Much like Chapman Cycles, David has gone off on a journey of his own. He just happens to be towing the new and improved Rapha Mobile Cycle Club, Tillie along with him. On his new path, he’ll be meeting up with countless group rides where, more often than not, watts and carbon are the nomenclature, not steel and plump tires.
Eventually, someone notices the brazed Circle A Cycles on the downtube, the large tires and mid-reach calipers. Or maybe they notice the spokes that were brazed onto the chainstays for chain slap protection and around the internal routing exit-port for a little added “pop”.
At that moment, David becomes the “hero” of the ride and all other technology present becomes obsolete… Well, almost.
Last weekend, I planned a route, dissected from our Super Bro Weekend ride. Four of us showed up and after five miles, my knee decided it wasn’t ready for the big day, so I bailed, only to return later in the day to shoot David’s bike amidst the rolling hills of the Austin area.
My town is a revolving door for events and this week, the city of Austin is host to the X-Games. While I won’t be attending any of the games, I’ll be sure to swing through @DarrylNau‘s party at Holy Mountain. Here are the details:
Darryl Nau Presents ATX-Party!
Fri June 6th during @XGames
@HolyMountainATX 617 East 7th St.
9pm-2am. 18+ w/ ID, $5
Darryl is buying YOU beer from 9 to 10!
Check out more information below.
A while back, I posted about Ian Sutton of Icarus Frames trying to sell this prototype track machine here in Austin. Turns out, my buddy – and part time intern – Andre picked it up. Rather than go with a classy, wet coat, he got it painted dark black with a clear sparkle top coat. Something that neither Ian nor myself saw coming…
I’ll admit, both of us were apprehensive, but when I saw the bike in person, I knew exactly what Andre was going for and Circle A killed it!
Andre built the bike up with all Zipp components: seatpost, bars, bartape and stem. For wheels, he went PAUL track hubs to H+Son Archetypes and SRAM Omnium cranks. It’s a standard, classy build on a very unique frameset. Since he works at Mellow Johnny’s he had the mechanics dial everything in.
The Cervelo fork and its tight clearances are right at home with this frame, that barely squeezes in a 23c tire. It’s a mean steed with a bit of sassy sparkles.
Ride safe Andre!