You won’t find many fully rigid, bi-plane forked, singlespeed mtbs on the trails of Kamloops—or anywhere else for that matter. But Lachlan Sillitoe, an Aussie transplant in the Loops and owner of the Bicycle Cafe, breaks the mold of the typical British Columbia Interior ride, with style and flow to spare. After hanging on his wheel during a few rides earlier this year, Dylan Sherrard writes about his friend’s unconventional bike choices and eagerness to embrace the entire spectrum of the riding experience—comfort be damned. Read on for Lachy’s thoughts about why easier isn’t always better and for a closer look at his anonymous vintage rigid SS mtb “beach bruiser.”
There’s something feverish hanging in the Kamloops air on nights like these. The trailhead is abuzz with excitement as riders on the latest and greatest bikes cross paths, displaying the lowest, longest, slackest, and fastest instruments the MTB industry has to offer. Amidst the frenzy of fresh sleds, stands Lachlan Sillitoe. No Shocks. No Gears. No Problems.
“It’s not exactly comfortable, but I don’t think that has to be a bad thing.” Lachy laughs through a lighthearted, mischievous grin. And we begin winding our way upward into the hills.
“I usually only ride this bike when I’m alone,” Lachy admits as we settle into the ride. “It’s pretty weird to try to ride a trail the same way as someone else—to match pace in any meaningful way—when our bikes are 50 years of technology apart.”
“It’s not exactly comfortable, but I don’t think that has to be a bad thing.”
I laugh in agreement. But I’m on one of those most current cream-of-the-crop offerings myself, and Lachlan is hanging tight. The climb passes under our tires quickly and while I try to make mention of minute bike build details, Lachlan is pre-occupied by the hills turning green and the late spring evening light flooding the valley.
It’s really not about the bike.
I’ve always admired Lachy’s approach to craft and aesthetic, and I find this bike a fitting symbol of his commitment to style and simplicity. Originally purchased while under the influence of a concussion, Lachlan stripped the paint and pieced it back together carefully, considering hand-made parts, visual flow, and just a bit of off-road capability as criteria.
Still, I question his use of this bike as we’re about to drop in on fast-paced, classic Kamloops singletrack trails.
The early season stoke is flowing as we carve through hillsides thick with sagebrush, pumping rolls and flowing turns. The trails are fast and last night’s rain adds a distinct compliment to the already charming conditions. “I’m working harder than the bike is,” Lachlan exclaims as we pull over to catch our breath. “If I let up on focus, I lose the flow. And there’s so much flow to hang onto right now!”
I drop back and chase through the next stretch of trail, a handcrafted section of singletrack that rides like a pumptrack along a ridgeline. Lachlan’s lines take a higher level of precision—no doubt—but he’s smiling just as big as anyone else I’ve seen on the trails today.
“I see so many people that are super over-biked. Marketing sort of pushes that on us, that we need more help to make the trails feel easier. But easy isn’t always fun, and fun isn’t always easy. We spend a lot of life just buying stuff to make experiences easier. But sometimes the challenge actually is the experience.”
A similar appetite for honest experience and sensation of space is how Lachlan ended up in Kamloops. In 2012 Lachlan uprooted from Australia, where he managed a bike store, and relocated to Kamloops, BC to give it a try. There were work opportunities in Vancouver and Whistler, but something about Kamloops’ scenery and culture felt particularly attractive.
“It looked like serious riding and a not-very-serious attitude,” he says about what attracted him to the area.
A rigid, singlespeed cruiser in an iconic freeride destination is certainly an expression of a not-very-serious attitude, and additionally represents a commitment to style and simplicity that Lachy embodies in all aspects of his life. From his choice of bikes, through his decision to uproot from Australia and settle in Kamloops, to his longstanding commitment to care and attention in bicycle retail, it’s all about doing things well. As he explains, it’s not about being anti-consumerism or pretentious, but rather about promoting a conscious approach to consumerism based on fun and what we truly enjoy.
“It’s not like I skipped on building this bike up fancy. And I still ride top of the line mountain bikes and gravel bikes – they’re amazing at what they can do,” he says. “It’s just that I want to promote people being honest with themselves about the riding experience they want to have, and riding a bike based on how that feels. Even if it’s a little weird.”