The Vanilla Workshop has multiple tiers in terms of frameset design and production. At the highest tier is a Vanilla. These are 100% custom, lugged beauties made entirely by Sacha White. Their wait list is so long, it’s not even worth mentioning. Then on the more readily-available tier is a Speedvagen frameset. These used to be only available as a 100% custom geometry with multiple options from paint, ranging from a simple, single color with detail hits to complex, “Surprise Me” paint jobs that are so wild, they’ve inspired how other builders tackle paint design.
Now, Speedvagen has a third option in its pricing catalog: the OG1 road frameset. These are stock frames, already painted and in stock now, ready to ship to you in days or weeks, not months. The OG1 also carries a pricetag that won’t make you choke on your morning breakfast, when it comes to a made in the USA frame anyway.
The OG1 is still made 100% by hand in the Vanilla Workshop and it’s painted in house with a custom Speedvagen design, usually two per year with the first year’s designs being limited to a matte lavender or a burly-looking matte olive drab! It’s obvious which color you’re seeing here.
These frames are a deal, but there’s a catch…
Batches Mean Budget
Before we go any further, let’s look at what makes the $5385 fully built, ready to roll, complete Speedvagen OG1 a deal. First of all, the tubing. Speedvagen uses a mix of custom-drawn True Temper and Columbus tubing. This tubing is then cut in batches, with sizing ranging from 50cm to 58cm. The frames are welded, in batches, finished and then painted in house, again, in batches. It’s the Henry Ford model of production: in order to keep cost down for the consumer, make a product in a sequence until it’s complete. That’s how you can land a $5385 complete Speedvagen road bike, which would usually set you back $10,000 or so.
So what’s the catch? They’re not available as a frameset only.
Stock build photo courtesy of the Vanilla Workshop
Complete frames make framebuilders money and save you, the consumer money on the overall bike. It’s as simple as that and with the OG1, while the build might be considered budget-minded, nothing is compromised. The OG1 comes laced with Shimano Dura Ace mechanical shifters and rear derailleur, Shimano Ultegra front derailleur, cranks and brakes. It’s rolling on Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels and tires, with a Fizik Antares saddle, PRO handlebar wrapped in Cinelli cork tape, Cane Creek headset, topped with a Ritchey seatpost head and painted PRO PLT stem. The frame, stem, seatmast topper and ENVE 2.0 road fork are then all painted together. You get all this, all of the standard Speedvagen Road frame details including Berzerker dropouts and placed stainless reinforcements.
Let me emphasize something here: I really wish I had received a production-level build, with the specs that the OG1 is dressed with, if only to truly test this bike’s out-of-the-box potential. Instead this frame includes a few key upgrades: an ENVE stem / bar, a Chris King headset and those crazy ENVE SES 4.5 road wheels with ENVE C hubs. With these upgrades, the bike is teetering towards $10,000. Because of this build, I can’t fully review the OG1 in terms of a complete because, for instance, wheels greatly influence how a bike handles and rides.
With that caveat out of the way, most riders will probably fork out the cash for an OG1, ride it for a number of months and then slowly upgrade a few parts. Or swap out the Ksyriums for their race-wheels and race it at their local crits, as-is.
While most of my bikes are SRAM-equipped, I actually like the ride of Shimano’s road components. I’ve never had an issue with Ultegra and its crisp shifting, yet always felt like a complete Dura Ace group was too blingy for me. What Speedvagen did here was save some money on the drivetrain by springing for the Dura Ace shifters and rear mech, while being more conservative with the Ultegra cranks, front mech and brakes. The result is a bike that rides like a race machine, right out of the box and in the couple months I had it in my possession, barely needed any mechanical maintenance, save for a few turns of the barrel adjuster on the rear mech.
Best of all, this bike comes assembled, save for loading in the front wheel and mounting the bars. Just unpack it, put on your pedals, adjust the saddle height and ride!
Those Wheels Tho
Ok, ok, I’m sure everyone is wondering what the hell is up with those wheels! ENVE began making their own carbon fiber road hubs earlier this year and before too long, they found themselves in the drop-down menu options in their wheelsets, right next to DT Swiss and Chris King. The hubs aren’t as loud as R45s or DTs but have a quick-to-bite engagement and roll like butter on a hot summer day. The combination of the SES 4.5 rim with these carbon hubs results in a $3,500 made in the USA road wheelset, skewers included. Balleur for sure, but they’re the nicest wheels ENVE has ever offered.
I’ve never really been a fan of carbon wheels on road bikes and it wasn’t until the Bontrager Aeolus wheels that I felt like the price to ride quality ratio was worth the purchase. You can’t really call these wheels an investment because inevitably, carbon will wear down just like an aluminum rim will, resulting in a need for a relace. Now, I have no idea how long the lifespan is for this wheelset because I only got to ride them for a few months, but in that time, there is very little visible wear on them.
In terms of braking performance, they were better than other ENVE road wheels I’ve ridden, but still not as confidence inspiring as the Bontrager Aeolus. Handling, climbing and descending is as good as you’ve come to expect the ENVE name to deliver although on a windy day, you’ll be feeling those crosswinds a lot more.
My take-away. If you’re a racer who demands performance as much as looks, the ENVE SES 4.5s will deliver on both fronts. If you just want a nice road wheelset, get your local shop to lace up a set of hubs to a wide, tubeless-ready rim and save $2000.
Frame Finish and Construction
Ok, enough about the build, what about the frame? How does it look in person? How’s the paint finishing? What about the stainless details? Keeping in mind that the OG1 is a production frame, the Vanilla Workshop has delivered one slick frameset, sacrificing nothing in terms of aesthetics. The welds are clean, and the paint is pristine. Just because you’re getting a production frame doesn’t mean it’s not a Speedvagen. These frames still come with those slick Berserker dropouts, stainless reinforcements for the rear brake, custom cable stops and super slick “Ghost” paint details with embossed logos. This is a damn fine bicycle.
How’s the OG1 Ride?
I’ll say this: the OG1 made me stoked to ride steel road bikes again. While the Mr. Pink I reviewed earlier this year re-ignited my love for steel road bikes, the OG1 stoked the flame even more. How so? Well, the main difference between a lot of the overseas production road frames on the market is the tubing selection. While there’s nothing wrong with the Mr. Pink’s tubing, the OG1 is just cut from a higher grade of steel and it shows, not only in weight. A bikes’s resonance and ride characteristics greatly depends on the grade of tubing it’s built from and you can’t go wrong with Columbus and True Temper. It climbed without hesitation and descended on its own line, all I had to do was let go of the brakes and hang on! Best of all, it’ll fit a fat, 28mm tire (shown with a 25mm).
The OG1 is a damn fine bicycle that has once again ignited my love for road cycling, in a city where the dirt is endless and my cyclocross bike is my usual go-to machine. In my time in LA, I’ve definitely spent less time riding road than I did in Austin, yet reviewing this bike made me rediscover my local rides and enjoy everything from a one hour jaunt to a full day in the saddle even more. The OG1 bike is a head turner, loaded with details, is flashy, yet subtle, rides like a dream and best of all, when someone makes a snarky comment like “how long did you have to wait for that thing?” I can answer, “they’re in stock and ready to ship.”
If you have a love for all things Speedvagen but have been put off by the price in the past, or are weighing your options for a new road bike this summer, do not overlook this option…
See more information at the Vanilla Workshop!