Category Archives: Beautiful Bicycles
Builder’s Camp in Bozeman: Falconer Slacker 150mm Travel 29er Hardtail

Each year at NAHBS, a selection of builders at the show lament on how we should actually ride bikes together more, not just talk about them once a year at the show. I get it. Sitting in a convention center, under that horrible lighting, discussing how a bike rides is worlds apart from actually riding out on the trails. This year, Adam Sklar took the initiative to plan a weekend and then some of fun times in Bozeman and sent out an open invite to numerous builders. His idea was to expose people to the culture here, the town’s local builders, eats, drinks, and shops, in an event playfully dubbed the “Builder’s Camp.” Squid, Breadwinner, Retrotec, Falconer, Horse, Alliance, and Strong, along with a few other locals, all prepared for 5 days of non-stop riding and relaxing in this beautiful mountain town.

Falconer Slacker 150mm Travel 29er Hardtail

The work of Cameron Falconer is for the shredders. The people who put function before fashion, or thrashin’ before fashion. Either way, Cam’s work is thoughtful, exact and to the point. Like a succinct text message, a Falconer gets to the point. The beauty about Cam’s personal bikes is they represent a moment in time, or a perspective on how Cam believes a hardtail steel mountain bike should ride, or rather, could ride. Granted, a lot of this experimentation might be a bit much for the average rider to consume. Take for instance a 150mm travel 29er hardtail. It’d take me some convincing to believe that platform was the right bike for me. Hell, that’s a LOT of bike to be delivered in a hardtail, yet it doesn’t hold Cam back at all.

With an effective top tube of 660mm, a 65º head angle, a bb drop of 70mm, chainstay length of 440mm, a seat tube angle of 72.5º, geometry aficionados might nod their heads in approval. These numbers just make sense. For tubing, Cam uses Vari Wall, Columbus, and a Paragon head tube. To top it off, Cam powder coated it to match his 4Runner in a Canfield blue.

This bike is stout, but secure in its shred-pedigree and watching Cam shred it in Bozeman brought me joy. I’ll be seeing this bike in Downieville this weekend, where it’ll be right at home there as it was in Montana.
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Follow Falconer on Instagram and follow along with the #BuildersCamp hashtag.

Aug 1, 2018 39 comments
Builder’s Camp in Bozeman: Alliance Titanium 29er

Each year at NAHBS, a selection of builders at the show lament on how we should actually ride bikes together more, not just talk about them once a year at the show. I get it. Sitting in a convention center, under that horrible lighting, discussing how a bike rides is worlds apart from actually riding out on the trails. This year, Adam Sklar took the initiative to plan a weekend and then some of fun times in Bozeman and sent out an open invite to numerous builders. His idea was to expose people to the culture here, the town’s local builders, eats, drinks, and shops, in an event playfully dubbed the “Builder’s Camp.” Squid, Breadwinner, Retrotec, Falconer, Horse, Alliance, and Strong, along with a few other locals, all prepared for 5 days of non-stop riding and relaxing in this beautiful mountain town.

Alliance Titanium 29er

Erik from Alliance makes some damn fine bicycles, yet they have flown under the radar for me and I’m not sure why. Perhaps because I’m often overwhelmed at NAHBS and don’t spend enough time really vetting the display booth. Each year, when Erik has displayed, I’ve missed his booth. But what I will say is after shooting this bike and watching Erik shred it in Bozeman, those days are over. Alliance is perhaps one of the most underrated, or maybe “unknown” is the correct nomenclature, titanium frame builders in the US.

Look, this bike doesn’t use plus tires, or the latest fancy mountain bike group, or carbon wheels, and that’s why I like it so much, because all that flashy stuff isn’t there to distract from Erik’s impeccable craftsmanship. Also, how cool is that Fix It Stix holder?
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Follow Alliance on Instagram and follow along with the #BuildersCamp hashtag.

Jul 29, 2018 7 comments
Builder’s Camp in Bozeman: Retrotec 25th-Anniversary Funduro XC 29er Hardtail

Each year at NAHBS, a selection of builders at the show lament on how we should actually ride bikes together more, not just talk about them once a year at the show. I get it. Sitting in a convention center, under that horrible lighting, discussing how a bike rides is worlds apart from actually riding out on the trails. This year, Adam Sklar took the initiative to plan a weekend and then some of fun times in Bozeman and sent out an open invite to numerous builders. His idea was to expose people to the culture here, the town’s local builders, eats, drinks, and shops, in an event playfully dubbed the “Builder’s Camp.” Squid, Breadwinner, Retrotec, Falconer, Horse, Alliance, and Strong, along with a few other locals, all prepared for 5 days of non-stop riding and relaxing in this beautiful mountain town.

Retrotec 25th-Anniversary Funduro XC 29er Hardtail

25 years in the frame building industry will teach you a lot. Not just about building bikes, either. Think about it. That’s 25 years of keeping up with industry change. From fads to standards, and technological advancements that are not a big deal for a large company, but for a dude in a garage in Napa, it can be a lot to keep on top of. Curtis Inglis from Retrotec is a perfectionist, a tinkerer, a lover of bicycles, autos, motos, scooters, and just about anything with two wheels. Curtis’ work is in my opinion, some of the most unique in the industry.

Curtis has two brands, Retrotec and Inglis Cycles. You’re probably most familiar with Retrotec, the ‘cruiser-inspired’ label, with swoopy tubes and a cruiser-inspired aesthetic. Inglis Cycles delivers a more straight up custom bike, with no curves. For his 25th anniversary, Curtis is doing something special with Retrotec.

The Retrotec man is one of my favorite logos and for his 25th, Curtis is building 25 frames, of which will be numbered on these unique head badges. For the Builder’s Camp, Curtis rode this new XC-oriented Retrotec 29er, rendered in grey primer and designed with a more cross country geometry. Technically, this model falls under the Funduro lineup – Retrotec’s trail hardtails – but he’s calling it a Funduro XC.

After Builder’s Camp, this bike went to Curtis’ close friend and Santa Rosa figure, Chris. Curtis and Chris are the same size, so they both swap bikes back and forth, discussing things like geometry, fit and parts kit, resulting in the best Retrotec Curtis can deliver to you, his customers.

If you’re in the market for a new hardtail, holler at Retrotec for one of his 25th-anniversary frames!

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Follow Retrotec on Instagram and follow along with the #BuildersCamp hashtag.

Jul 26, 2018 10 comments
Adam and His Sklunker

There are some bikes that deserve more than to be shot at NAHBS. THat’s what I told myself anyway with this bike. When Adam brought his “Sklunker” to Connecticut this year for the show, he asked if I wanted to shoot it. My answer was “hell no! we’ll shoot it in Bozeman instead.” His face lit up since we had only briefly talked about hanging out in Montana briefly and already I was committed. Fast forward a few months and here we are, amidst the green grass and high mountains of this quaint little mountain town.

Now, going into this, I should note a conversation Cam from Falconer and I had, specifically about Wade from Vulture Cycles’ bike I shot. Wade was stoked to see the photos, but he texted with Cam expressing, “John’s photos are rad, but he called it a klunker and it’s a cruiser!” Inside the klunker elite, there is a known misnomer they are particularly sensitive to. You see, single speed, coaster brake, hand-brakeless bikes like Adam’s are called “cruisers” and geared bikes, with brakes are called “klunkers.” The problem is, most people call coaster brake, single speed bikes “klunkers.” At some point, if there is an accepted misnomer, does it become acceptable? Well, maybe amidst that population, but the purists will always hold true. For the purposes of this article, I’m calling this bike the “Sklunker” because that’s what Adam calls it. Perhaps one day I’ll rope Cam or Wade into writing an article about the “klunker” versus “cruiser” debate, but for now, I’ll leave it at that.

Back to this bike. Adam had a good amount of scrap tubing laying around when NAHBS approached. Earlier in the year, he bought a tube bender to make unicrown forks, which he tested out before deciding to build the matching frame. He didn’t build this bike to bring to NAHBS, it just happened in a serendipitous way. So, he had the fork, and frame, but what about the parts? His buddy Corbin from Black Sheep makes these heat sink cooler hub shell clamp on jammers that prolong the lifespan of coaster brakes and reduces the wear and tear on the shell. They’re called Flat Out. They’re $100 and are pretty neat!

So Adam pulled together some parts, made a half-assed attempt at drillium cranks, pulled the steel bars from his fatbike and began to build up the Sklunker. He built up some wheels, including a NOS Nukeproof hub he had, put the beefiest tires he could fit in the frame and fork, and boom, he had a pretty slick bike. Worthy of NAHBS even, but not planned specifically for the event.

For finishing, he consulted his painter, a local hot rod artist, and Steve from Alter Cycles on a patina wash spray – which is essentially an acid-base used to cause steel to oxidize at a rapid rate – which he applied in his shop sink, and then Adam coated the frame, fork, and bars with wax.

The result is one of the slickest bikes I’ve seen come from the workshop of Sklar Bikes and I’m sure you all will enjoy this one!

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Jul 24, 2018 56 comments
Speedvagen Has Counted Your Votes: New GTFO and CKOG Ready Made Bikes

After the Workshop Build Off, Speedvagen counted all the votes on this website, social media, and other forms of chatter to determine the winner. Without a doubt, the GTFO landed the public’s love and a place in the Ready-Made program. But alas, if the GTFO isn’t your speed and you’d like to see a Ready-Made road bike, the team at Speedvagen worked with Chris King on special pricing for an entire King package, resulting in the CKOG road bike. Check out the details for both of these bikes below and see more at Speedvagen.

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Jul 23, 2018 19 comments
Help the Sierra Trails and Win a Bronson in this Year’s $5 a Foot Fundraiser

You don’t have to live in California, or ride trails in the Sierra, to help the Sierra Trails raise money for their efforts. This year’s $5 a foot fundraiser throws a custom, special edition Santa Cruz Bronson in the ring for a prize.

If you’re not already familiar with $5-Bucks-a-Foot, it’s the Butte’s annual fundraiser where people buy feet of trail ($5 = 1 foot) to enter themselves for a chance at win a Santa Cruz bike. Over the years, $5-Bucks-a-Foot has raised more than $300,000 in funds that have built amazing new Lost Sierra trails like Mills Peak. Enter to win at Sierra Trails and we’ll see ya at Downieville in two weeks!

Check out more photos of this handsome Bronson below! (more…)

Jul 23, 2018 Comments are OFF
Builder’s Camp in Bozeman: Sklar Titanium XC 29er Hardtail

Each year at NAHBS, a selection of builders at the show lament on how we should actually ride bikes together more, not just talk about them once a year at the show. I get it. Sitting in a convention center, under that horrible lighting, discussing how a bike rides is worlds apart from actually riding out on the trails. This year, Adam Sklar took the initiative to plan a weekend and then some of fun times in Bozeman and sent out an open invite to numerous builders. His idea was to expose people to the culture here, the town’s local builders, eats, drinks, and shops, in an event playfully dubbed the “Builder’s Camp.” Squid, Breadwinner, Retrotec, Falconer, Horse, Alliance, and Strong, along with a few other locals, all prepared for 5 days of non-stop riding and relaxing in this beautiful mountain town.

Sklar Titanium XC 29er Hardtail

Before the swoops and curves he’s known for, Adam Sklar began his cycling experience riding XC mountain bikes outside of Denver, Colorado where he was born. That was a while ago – at least when you consider Adam is 25 years old – and since then, he’s moved onto making equally capable as beautiful, curvy mountain and all-road bikes. At some point in the last year, Adam decided he wanted to make an XC frame to ride. As humans often do, we tend to revisit our past experiences.

With a tighter wheelbase, a slightly steeper head angle of 69º, and a 120mm fork, the bike might look like some of Adam’s other trail bikes, but the handling of this bike is significantly different. With the Builder’s Camp approaching, Adam took a few days to whip up this frame, in the middle of organizing the whole event. While there’s no set pricing for a Sklar, his frames start at $3,950 for titanium and $2,650 for steel.

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Follow Sklar Bikes on Instagram and follow along with the #BuildersCamp hashtag.

Jul 20, 2018 5 comments
Builder’s Camp in Bozeman: Horse Cycles Hell Cat Hardtails

Each year at NAHBS, a selection of builders at the show lament on how we should actually ride bikes together more, not just talk about them once a year at the show. I get it. Sitting in a convention center, under that horrible lighting, discussing how a bike rides is worlds apart from actually riding out on the trails. This year, Adam Sklar took the initiative to plan a weekend and then some of fun times in Bozeman and sent out an open invite to numerous builders. His idea was to expose people to the culture here, the town’s local builders, eats, drinks, and shops, in an event playfully dubbed the “Builder’s Camp.” Squid, Breadwinner, Retrotec, Falconer, Horse, Alliance, and Strong, along with a few other locals, all prepared for 5 days of non-stop riding and relaxing in this beautiful mountain town.

Horse Cycles Hell Cat Hardtails

I’ve always loved the aesthetic of what Thomas Callahan at Horse Cycles produces in his Brooklyn-based workshop. Over the past few years, he and his team have pulled together some beautiful frames. For the Builder’s Camp, Thomas and his friend Nik came out to Bozeman with these two Hell Cat hardtails. These bikes are 27.5+ “East Coast Rippers.” With a 66.5º head angle, designed for 130-150mm forks, and room for 3” tires. Each there are options for the seatstays, downtube, and paint colors. For the stays, a wishbone with scalloped ends is an option. No matter what the tubing selection or details you end up choosing, the work of Ben Falcon Paint will give your bike a unique look with empeccable detailing.

The Hell Cat hardtails start at $2,100 for a frame, plus a fork of your choosing. Head to Horse for more details.

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Follow Horse Brand on Instagram and follow along with the #BuildersCamp hashtag.

Jul 19, 2018 20 comments
Festka’s Limited Edition Tour de France One Spectre Road Bike

I absolutely love razzle dazzle-inspired designs, the Tour, and this brand. Festka has designed a paint job for their One road bike, offered in an Ultegra or Dura Ace build, only for sale during the Tour de France, the 7th of July until the 29th. If you’re interested, or would just like to see more, head over to Festka.

Jul 18, 2018 Comments are OFF
Builder’s Camp in Bozeman: Squid’s Fuck Off Johnny SSMTB

Each year at NAHBS, a selection of builders at the show lament on how we should actually ride bikes together more, not just talk about them once a year at the show. I get it. Sitting in a convention center, under that horrible lighting, discussing how a bike rides is worlds apart from actually riding out on the trails. This year, Adam Sklar took the initiative to plan a weekend and then some of fun times in Bozeman and sent out an open invite to numerous builders. His idea was to expose people to the culture here, the town’s local builders, eats, drinks, and shops, in an event playfully dubbed the “Builder’s Camp.” Squid, Breadwinner, Retrotec, Falconer, Horse, Alliance, and Strong, along with a few other locals, all prepared for 5 days of non-stop riding and relaxing in this beautiful mountain town.

Squid Bikes: Fuck Off Johnny Single Speed Mountain Bike

Squid owners Chris Yoshio Namba and Emily Elaine Kachorek brought their newest frame platform, the Fuck Off Johnny. These hardtail mountain bikes were serendipitously named by Paul Price, owner of Paul Components when he expressed “So what’s going on with your new bike? The Screw Off Susie? Or the Fuck Off Johnny?” to which Squid replied, “you mean the Shred to Eds?” So when the time came to name their new mountain bike, they knew what to call it.

These hardtails fit a 3.0″ 27.5″ tire or a 2.2″ 29″ tire, are designed for a 120mm travel fork, use stealth dropper routing, and come in at a pricepoint of $1,400 for the frame. From there, buyers can pick up some cans of Spray.Bike and go to town, designing their own custom paint jobs. For Chris and Em, they take their painting jobs to heart, designing elaborate schemes in vibrant colors.

Chris used random scrawl from his travels to cover his frame, wheels, and bars in a green color scheme, while Em focused more on pastels. Each bike has loads of character and it was damn impressive watching them crush these steep mountain rides on single speeds.

The Fuck off Johnny frameset – including a RockShox Pike – will be in stock early August. You can make a deposit and see more details at Squid.

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Follow Squid Bikes on Instagram and follow along with the #BuildersCamp hashtag.

Jul 17, 2018 19 comments