Drew from Engin Cycles is a wizard of custom mountain bike framebuilding. Over the years, he has built some of the most dialed titanium bikes I’ve seen. It doesn’t matter if it’s a rowdy hardtail with 140mm of travel up front, or a snappy, steep XC race machine to tear the field apart, what Engin offers to their customers is custom, performance machinery.
So where does a 29+ rigid mountain frame come into play? It’s not exactly performance, but it does offer up a unique problem solving opportunity. One that Drew couldn’t pass up.
Tyler’s bike utilizes Paragon’s 29+ yoke to ensure chainring and tire clearances. The rigid steel fork is painted with cerakote, as are the frame accents and Tyler chose a mix of X9 cranks, XX1 rear mech and XTR brakes, with a Stan Hugo up front and a Blunt SS on the rear. The Groovy bars really just add the icing on the cake for me.
Fatter tires at a low pressure are perfect for Austin’s Greenbelt trails, which offer a rocky, rooty and sometimes slick environment. Tyler’s been vibing with this bike all spring and is sold!
See more for yourself in the Gallery.
Lauren and I have done plenty of camping and she’s done her share of cycling around town, but we’ve never gone on a bicycle camping trip together. Yesterday morning, I was surprised to hear her ask if I wanted to get in some tent time before I headed out on the road again on Friday.
So last night, I packed up some bags, a tent, my trusty Lodge cast iron skillet and food for two meals. We headed out to the closest state park in the area: McKinney Falls. The route there is pretty easy, even loaded down with a bunch of gourmet food, wine, a hatchet and a skillet. I took it slow and coached Lauren through the climbs, we stopped for photos and tried our best to ignore the impatient rush-hour traffic zipping past. The weather looked nice, with bright blue sunny skies. It didn’t rain this go-round, but it was still quite enjoyable…
I didn’t think this mandated a whole gallery, so check out a scrolling story below.
When South African, World Cup champion Burry Stander suffered a tragic death on a training ride in 2013, Specialized lost not only one of their riders, but one of their family members. To honor his death, they released an S-Works Epic 29r under their Specialized Projects line.
Based on their FACT World Cup geometry, this flashy frame is covered in a sparkly orange paint, adorned with African art and features a graphic inspired by the South African flag and Stander’s unique personality. The resulting product makes for an orange blur that glows in the late-afternoon sun (and is rather hard to photograph).
As far as tech is concerned, this S-Works Epic frame features a FOX/Specialized remote Mini-Brain with AUTOSAG, pushing 95mm of travel and a Rock Shox Sid Brain. Built with Sram XO1 and rolling on Roval Control SL 29 with Maxxis Ardent gumwalls set up tubeless, this thing is ready for blast off.
While I’m sure it’d take a while to truly grasp what this frame represents, Jonathan has taken quite a liking to it. All I can say is damn, look at those chain stays!
Austin has a certain magnetism when it comes to framebuilders relocating here from Boston. Icarus, Tomii Cycles and now Saila Bikes have all made Texas their new home, bringing with them their successful framebuilding practices.
Lauren Trout began working at Seven Cycles, where she cut, prepped, welded and finished frames over the course of her employment there. If you’re going to learn how to work with titanium, Seven ain’t a bad place to learn. At some point, Lauren decided it was time to work for herself and began Saila Bikes. Specializing in titanium road, track, touring and cross frames.
Saila’s shop is nestled in an industrial complex a few miles from the Radavist HQ on the East Side of Austin. Inside her roughly 600 square foot space, Lauren has set up shop over the past few months and is currently building a queue.
I swung by Saila after all the Cyclocross Nats buzz had simmered and photographed Lauren working in here space, as well as a complete cross frame. More on that to come…
Saila’s frames begin at $2,400 for titanium and $1,300 for steel. Find out more information at Saila Bikes.
A few of us are camping and attempting to recreate last year’s Super Bro Weekend, even though the looks less than favorable. We’ll see you later this weekend. If you’re looking for some ride inspiration, check out: Super Bro Weekend.
In Seattle, a local staple has closed its doors. Back in September of last year, Elliott Bay Bicycles, home of Davidson Cycles, shut down. Luckily the in-house brand of frames, made by hand since 1973, by Bill Davidson lives on.
Even though Davidson is a Seattle-based framebuilder, his work can be seen from coast to coast, from vintage steel to modern composite. Although Bill only currently offers road frames, he makes them in a variety of materials. As a Davidson customer, you can chose between composite, steel or titanium, all of which are done in house. While the modern bikes have their own character, there’s something about a frame from the late 80’s and early 90’s. They all have a certain finesse that’s harder to achieve these days with modern materials.
This particular frame was most likely made in the mid to late 1980’s, if the 1″ threaded steerer and internally-lugged unicrown fork is any indication. Chris scored it off eBay as he was looking for a traditionally lugged frame to kick around town on. Fit with a mix of Campagnolo 10-speed, the bike looks like a classic road from the 80’s, yet has the technology from a modern road group.
Bottom line, she’s a looker. See more in the Gallery.
It seems the guys at Everything Will Be Noble took heed of our Black Friday camping trip route. After the Cross Nats dust settled in Austin, they left for a 200 mile route we planned back in December. It’s great seeing local routes getting some fresh eyes and photos.
Check out Everything Will Be Noble for a great tale!
Chiwawan Wakk Trak Chimichanga
Photos by Jared Kerst words by Ultra Romance
Survival fires, spandex spoon trains, pee tea sipping, mutiny, abandoned bikes, lost and found, etc… Chances are every outdoorsman has experienced one or another or all. 3 years ago Lorde Gaubert brought a group of “Pomeranian city slickers” out to the Chiwawan desert to explore the seemingly endless network of mining and smuggling trails left over from the Republic of Texas days. It was meant to just be a Lycra paced long day ride. Things didn’t turn out so well. Apparently it was Garmin’s fault, or the game trail that could have been a trail, trail, or the empty water bottles with boiling temperatures and tempers….. Either way, they got wicked lost, ditched their bikes, spoon train man piled round a survival fire all night, and found their truck the next day hours before an iconic Texas blue norther elbow dropped the temps into the 30s. It was a harrowing tale, a spandex spectacle all our brüs had heard and laughed about several times. But deep inside, all of us were eager to get shreddy on the 1-trakk monarchy hidden within the 2nd largest desert in North America, and furthermore, to find out if Lorde Gaubert’s curse was merely situational. He does have a reputation, after all…
“Even Disappointment is Bigger in Texas”
There’s a lot to be said about the events that occurred on Sunday morning here in Austin, all of which have been stomped to death elsewhere, so what I’ll say is, for a race that was almost killed off, this was one of most beautiful and challenging courses I’ve ever witnessed. That’s coming from someone who has never traveled overseas, of course, but still.
Look, Austin is a growing city, trying to keep things “weird” and maintain its small town vibe, while it’s bursting at the seams with new construction and lots of new, self-important money. Events like SxSW, ACL and Fun Fun Fun Fest have been destroying the same parks over and over again, so when people see their beautiful Zilker and its hillsides being “destroyed”, they tend to overreact. Especially when they’re not briefed as to what “cyclocross” is.
I can say, It upsets me that this is what the ‘cross world will forever remember us by, not for the ripping course and supportive local scene. We all love cross and it kills us just as much as it kills you. Anyway, onto the story…
For the past week, I’ve been figuring out how to document this event and let me tell you, it was a lot easier before the organizers changed the course up. I had spots for each lap and ideas about how to tie in the women’s and men’s races, all of which was out the window when Sunday’s race was cancelled and the course underwent major work, eliminating many of the vignettes I had planned.
Shooting ‘cross isn’t easy, but it sure is challenging and as a photographer, I learn something new each time. Having raced on Wednesday, I felt like I had a good understanding of where to go and when. Throughout the entire day on Monday, unridable mud slowly transformed into 100% hero dirt. The lines were worn in and even the most technical section – a ribbon of off-camber mud-gutter with a 10″ drop off into one of the old course’s lines – was ridable. For most anyway.
At the end of the day, I experimented, caught some moments and pulled together one of my favorite galleries to date. I hope you enjoy… and remember, Austin loves ‘cross, let’s try to forgive and forget.
Face Plants and Frito Pies at the Crash Nationals Night Race
Photos by Gideon Tsang, Kevin Sparrow, Chris Lee and John Watson
Words by John Watson
When the 2015 Cyclocross National Championships (R.I.P.) were announced here in Austin, our local club, Beat the Clock Cycling and I decided to throw a bandit race out in the woods on the far East side of town, away from all the sanctioned races on Thursday night. We wanted it to be technical and tough, and best of all, at night.