Inside / Out at Horse Cycles – Ian Matteson

Inside / Out at Horse Cycles

Photos by Ian Matteson, words by Kevin McClelland from ENVE

The Idea for this bike and trip transpired from a casual conversation at NAHBS in Hartford.  I approached Thomas from Horse Cycles at his stunning booth filled with some of my favorite bikes at the the show and we began talking about the yet to be released ENVE Gravel Fork and Gravel Bar. Thomas quickly started to show me photos of his freshly built cabin in Upstate New York surrounded by a beautiful landscape littered with some amazing gravel roads. That was the moment I knew I wanted to get out to New York for some riding with him and I knew I wanted it to be on a Horse Frame.

Fortunately, Thomas was on the same page and for the months that followed we planned out this unbelievable bike and trip. Our trip started at the Horse workshop in Brooklyn where we met up with Charles the shop cat and did some last minute adjustments to dial in the fit. Once the bike was ready we headed upstate for some quality gravel riding with Thomas and Horse customer turned good friend Nick.  We set out each day from Thomas’ cabin which is perched on a hilltop amongst the Catskill Mountains and got a good mix of pristine dirt to rowdy under maintained service roads covered in leaves. There was so much terrain I wish I had more time to explore but I will definitely be back!

Frame Design

My parameters for this frame was that it had to clear 2.25” tires, shred single track but still be suitable for long days in the saddle. With that, Thomas took it and ran drawing up perfectly balanced geometry and a meticulously selected tubeset of Columbus Life and Zona.

The small details are what really make this bike special for me. From the s-bend flattened seatstays to the custom machined headtube reinforcements to the hand stamped brass badge on the BB, these are what truly make this bike one of a kind and are a testament to Thomas’ craft.

Clearance

Once I found out the fork would clear a 27.5 x 2.25” Tire I knew we had to match the rear end but that was easier said than done. Luckily Max at 333 Fab paved the way with his Air Land Sea Frame so we took a page out of his book and utilized the White Industries Road Crank Arms with their Mountain spindle. This allowed for massive tire clearances and proper chainline while keeping the Q factor at a respectable 163.5mm.

Paint

I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite builders and possibly the most inspiring bike of all time, the Fastboy Assless.  Most readers of this site are familiar with Ezra Caldwell and the story of the Assless bike but for those of you that aren’t, The Assless was a frame that Ezra made for himself so that he could continue to ride while battling cancer. His craft and his story have continued to resonate and inspire me and I am honored to share this truly special paint with him. Ezra passed away in 2014 but lives on through his art and his story.

For more on Ezra check out the video below.

Made by Hand / No 5 The Bike Maker

Build

With the Frame being built around the White industries Crank it was a perfect opportunity to deck the rest of the bike out with their quality parts. The Polished headset and T47 BB and CLD Hubs laced to ENVE G27 Hoops really round out the build.  Paul Flat Mount Klamper provide the stopping power and match up nicely with the Set n Forget Thru Axles. I really prefer Shimano levers and have had great luck with the Wolftooth TanPan so I stuck with a 105/XT set up with a monster 11-47 Cassette.  The WTB Riddlers are a favorite in 700 and they are even better in 27.5! Fabric Scoop Saddle and ESI Wrap for the touchpoints. ENVE Stem and Post and last but not least the new Gravel Fork and Gravel Bar which really allow this bike to be what it is. A singletrack shredding machine.

Huge thanks Ian for the flawless photos, Nick for the great company and to Thomas for the making such an incredible machine, the accommodations, the beers, the good conversation and the reintroduction to Bob Ross.

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  • Jared Jerome

    That guy makes some appealing bicycles.

    • He’s a great human too!

      • Mason Griffin

        Right?! I was just about to say something to the affect of “great bikes built by a fantastic human!”

      • For sure! One of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

  • Andrew Mc

    Such a cool tribute to Ezra and a gorgeous bike. I dig the polished parts as a break from the all-black-everything.

    • Christopher Plaskett

      Yeah, I immediately thought of Ezra when I saw the paint. Very cool.

      • Man, that bike was such a tear-jerker. That man was something special.

  • Raoul Morley

    I love that bike I’m just sure of the spare 105 shifter, is there a cable in tied under the tape to lock it out?
    seems like an opportunity for a dropper remote?
    Certainly not a criticism just thinking about doing this on one of my bikes, just looking for some thoughts!

    • Great point!

    • Kevin McClelland

      That’s the plan! If you look closely you’ll see an internal dropper port on the back of the seat tube. We used paragon bolt on housing clips for the ability to cleanly add and remove the dropper cable. The lever requires some modification of the internals but it’s definitely doable. Check out the build in the link below for a successful dropper hack on a shimano lever.
      https://theradavist.com/2017/06/jeremys-stinner-baja-buggy-27-5-monster-cross-bike/#1

      • Raoul Morley

        Thanks for getting back, that’s super cool I’m now trying to resist doing this…
        Radness stakes have just increased exponentially ;0)
        I genuinely love this place great people who are all super helpful that make pretty stuff!

  • EJ

    Beautiful. The red and white is very striking.

    For the small details, what is the theory behind the flatting the seatstays?

  • mark rothschild

    “Saddle-Up…the Palomino” – N Young

  • California Travis

    This is such a great set!

  • skog_smog

    Wow. How have I never heard of Horse before?! Their Urban Tour bike looks right up my alley…if only it was available as a 60 or 62.

    • Since Thomas makes everything, he can build you whatever you want!

  • Pascal K

    Wow! Beautiful bikes and shop and everything else!

  • Such a great bike. Ezra is missed.

  • Dakota Graff

    As if I needed an excuse to love Horse more…

  • Franky Hollywood

    Nice, but whats up with the “rule” White, Envy, Paul?

    • Makers like supporting makers and all those companies make exceptional stuff.

      • Franky Hollywood

        A ok, because there small US companies, makes sense. Exceptional not sure but I get your point.

        • Jared Jerome

          Their quality is exceptional.

        • That’s assuming the economies of scale are feasible in a market where everything is made in China. For companies like this, growing is a slow and calculated process. Grow too fast and you burst, grow too slow and you become obsolete. Look at White Industries, PAUL, Phil Wood, they’ve all been around for some time now, but are very calculated about growth.

          The reason they’re not more widely used – ATMO anyway – is people want carbon, lightweight stuff, as run by the pros, and companies like SRAM, Shimano, etc are more readily available, cheaper, etc.