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The Shed of Shred: A Workshop Visit with Starling Cycles

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The Shed of Shred: A Workshop Visit with Starling Cycles

Midlife crises come in all shapes and sizes. For some, a bright red Mustang relieves the itch. For others, some Eat Pray Lovin’ on a beach in Bali is just the ticket. But for Joe McEwan, Founder of Starling Cycles, chucking in his job as a successful aerospace engineer to build steel mountain bikes in a garden shed was just what the doctor ordered.

In this shop visit, we dig into the brand’s origin story, go behind the scenes at their Bristol workshop and learn why their signature single-pivots and retro rear shocks prove that simplicity never goes out of fashion.

Conversations with Tom Ritchey Part One: Tommy, Thomas, Tom

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Conversations with Tom Ritchey Part One: Tommy, Thomas, Tom

Tom Ritchey is not what you would call an open book. Rather, he’s a whole library; a labyrinth with many alleys, chockfull of stories, where everything splits and branches like the best network of singletrack, and there are no cul de sacs. Every door leads you to another room. Every answer opens up another question. There are no shortcuts.

The following is just a casual conversation. In it, you might not find all the details of the next frame that he is working on but you may find a better understanding into what it took for Tom Ritchey to become Tom Ritchey.

“I have a public self and I have a personal self. I could answer that question on a public side and tell you I just love riding my bike and being by myself and all (…) That would be an authentic answer but it’s not the whole answer of course. So I’ll give you the personal one too.” – Tom Ritchey

Introducing the Ron’s Bikes x Crust Bikes Alumalith 27.5 ATB

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Introducing the Ron’s Bikes x Crust Bikes Alumalith 27.5 ATB

Good ol’ Ronnie. How many bikes have we shot together now? It all started with a chance encounter in Austin in 2014 when I documented his Trek 970. Back then, he was known as Benedict and dressed in his post-Wooly Mammoth roadie persona; lumberjack meets blast beats, sprinkled with some Tolkien lore and usually seen astride either a vintage MTB or a Rivendell, dribbling olive oil on his vintage Suntour components. This was early Ultraromance—the genesis of his persona—when he had just begun to crack open the internet with his wild style and über cøøl bikes. I love this man, no matter what name he festoons his internet crown with. Always have. Always will.

Fast forward to the 2022 Philly Bike Expo, where I recently met this gentle yet patinated gent once again to document a bike that picks up where our Duralcan post left off.

The Alumalith is the latest model to be released from the Ron’s Bikes x Crust Bikes cache and the first US-made aluminum bike he’s designed, with Frank the Welder at the helm, speccing tubing diameters and laying down iconic beads on brushed, raw aluminum. Let’s check it out below!

2022 Philly Bike Expo: The Show and Custom Bikes Part 01 – 44 Bikes, Bishop, Breadwinner, Coast, Hot Salad, Junkyard Cats, Maiorossé, Royal H, and WZRD

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2022 Philly Bike Expo: The Show and Custom Bikes Part 01 – 44 Bikes, Bishop, Breadwinner, Coast, Hot Salad, Junkyard Cats, Maiorossé, Royal H, and WZRD

When I lived in New York City, we rode our bikes to Philadelphia every year for the Philly Bike Expo. At the time, the event was hosted inside an old armory in the city, and featured a handful of framebuilders, makers, and companies with roots mostly in commuter cycling. Back then, the Philly Bike Expo felt like a family. I moved out of the Northeast shortly after and was really looking forward to reconnecting with old friends.

The last time I made it to an Expo was in 2012, and a lot has changed. While the same soul is still very much present, the venue, size, and impact of the Philly Bike Expo have grown. After a two-year pandemic hiatus and a relatively subdued 2021 year, it was back and bigger than ever for 2022. Cari and I flew to Philadelphia to get out of Santa Fe for a few days, soak in some big(ger) city food, and take in the Expo, so let’s get to it.

Introducing the Argonaut Cycles GR3 Gravel Bike, Shop Visit, and Interview with Founder Ben Farver

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Introducing the Argonaut Cycles GR3 Gravel Bike, Shop Visit, and Interview with Founder Ben Farver

Over the years, we’ve done a lot with Argonaut Cycles, from documenting its first shop location to photographing its race team at the Rouge Roubaix and shooting bikes at various showcases. The brand has come a long way in that time and today, after three years of design, testing, and research, they are releasing the GR3, a next-gen custom carbon gravel bike.

While in Bend, OR, recently, Josh caught up with the Argonaut Cycles team for a tour of their facilities and sat down for an interview with founder and designer Ben Farver. The conversation covers the brand’s fully custom in-house carbon frame and component production methods and more. Below, find Argonaut’s GR3 introduction, Josh’s interview with Ben, and an extensive photo gallery detailing the Argonaut fabrication process!

Vintage Bikes Are Compounded Stories: John’s 1980 No Serial Ritchey

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Vintage Bikes Are Compounded Stories: John’s 1980 No Serial Ritchey

Every bike has a story, but some intrinsically harbor more nuanced lore. As you might have noticed, over the past few years, I’ve acquired a few Ritchey frames from the 1980s. We’ve previously covered my Everest and the story of Tom’s early Bullmoose designs; I also have a 1985 Annapurna, and this no serial number 1980 Ritchey, which might be the best build yet.

This era of mountain bike design and development is my favorite. In the late 70s, guys like Joe Breeze built beautiful bikes inspired by balloon cruisers and klunkers. Tom Ritchey, inspired by the frenetic energy of the mountain bike genesis, began making fat tire frames in the late 70s. From 1980 through 1981, several bikes left Tom’s shop, including the fabled ‘chicken coop’ bikes, and a few were built void of any serial number.

This bike is the latter, and boy, does it have a story…

2022 Bespoked Mega Gallery, Part 02: Prova Cycles, Clandestine, Black Sheep Bikes, Etoile Cycles, Dawley Bikes, Avalanche Cycles, Coal Bikes, Black Cat Custom Paint, Fahrradbau Stolz, and Sour Bicycles

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2022 Bespoked Mega Gallery, Part 02: Prova Cycles, Clandestine, Black Sheep Bikes, Etoile Cycles, Dawley Bikes, Avalanche Cycles, Coal Bikes, Black Cat Custom Paint, Fahrradbau Stolz, and Sour Bicycles

We’re back today with Josh’s second installment of coverage from the Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show! Let’s jump right in below with more recapping and a gallery of beautiful builds from Prova Cycles, Clandestine, Black Sheep Bikes, Etoile Cycles, Dawley Bikes, Avalanche Cycles, Coal Bikes with Black Cat Custom Paint, Fahrradbau Stolz, and Sour Bicycles

2022 Bespoked Mega Gallery, Part 01: Sturdy Cycles, Quirk Cycles, Donhou Bicycles, Sideways, Lord Cycles, Stayer Cycles, Ted James Designs, and Auckland Cycle Works

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2022 Bespoked Mega Gallery, Part 01: Sturdy Cycles, Quirk Cycles, Donhou Bicycles, Sideways, Lord Cycles, Stayer Cycles, Ted James Designs, and Auckland Cycle Works

Just over one week ago Josh was in London for the 2022 edition of Bespoked Handmade Bicycle Show. Under new ownership and management, the show moved from its former location in Bristol, England to the Lee Valley Velo Park in Stratford of East London. With three days of track racing, talks, food, hangs, coffee, enviable new products, and—of course—hundreds of eclectic and beautiful bicycles on display, the show was a major success for the new organizers, exhibitors, and attendees.

Let’s dive straight into Part One of our recap below with a look at bikes from a bevy of builders: Sturdy Cycles, Quirk Cycles, Donhou Bicycles, Sideways, Lord Cycles, Stayer Cycles, Ted James Designs, and Auckland Cycle Works

John’s 1983 Ritchey Everest MTB: A Happenstance Acquisition

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John’s 1983 Ritchey Everest MTB: A Happenstance Acquisition

What’s this? Another grey, size 23″ Ritchey? Well… yes!

Over the past year, I’ve revisited my love of handmade, vintage bikes and have honed in with particular interest on the work of Tom Ritchey, a builder at the fore of early mountain bike design. My goal in this case study of sorts is to provide a few examples of the major shifts in Ritchey’s production, primarily through the 1980s, with a single specimen representing these stages. My catalog of Ritchey frames includes a recently acquired anonymous 1980 model devoid of serial number, a 1985 Annapurna (arguably the finest bike model Tom ever brazed), and a 1982 Tam that is now being replaced by this 1983 Everest.

Earlier this year, we looked at my 1982 Tamalpais, built to catalog spec and in pristine condition. Yet one thing never really sat well with me about the build: the Bullmoose bars. You see, these early Ritcheys had a very unique Bullmoose that was more complex than the quill stem Bullmoose bars found in the late 1980s.

It’s a long story but one I’ll unravel here…

Josh’s Amigo Bug Out feat. Ingrid Drivetrain, MRP Baxter Fork, and Industry Nine UL250 Wheelset

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Josh’s Amigo Bug Out feat. Ingrid Drivetrain, MRP Baxter Fork, and Industry Nine UL250 Wheelset

Earlier this year, I purchased a Bug Out, the new “stock” steel frame offering from Zach Small’s framebuilding operation Amigo Frameworks. While visiting Zach in Nashville, we spent a few days building it up in his shop before heading out for first impressions on some springtime Middle Tennessee mixed-terrain riding at the Gosh Darn Gravel Gathering. Since then, I’ve put hundreds of miles on the Bug Out and swapped components a few times to get it where it is now—an intersection of pure enjoyment and mechanical perfection. Genre-wise, this bike pushes a lot of boundaries, and I’m not sure what it is: Dropbar MTB? Adventure bike? ATB? Touring bike? Monster Gravel? At some point, labels stopped mattering, and I realized this might be the most fun bike I’ve owned. Let’s look at the Bug Out, and some build highlights, in detail below and find out why!

Back in School at The Bicycle Academy of Frome, England

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Back in School at The Bicycle Academy of Frome, England

From its crowd-funded origins in 2011,The Bicycle Academy (TBA) has arguably become the most influential framebuilding school in Europe. With names like Ted James, Robin Mather, Paul Burford, and Tony Corke of Torke Cycling, gracing the past and present roster of instructors, it’s no wonder that TBA has seen over 1,000 framebuilder graduates leave its halls.

TBA’s current space is a large, purpose-built warehouse with a semi-open plan on a labyrinth-like industrial estate just outside of the town center in Frome, England. Even with its spacious design, every corner is jammed full of amazing bits of work, every surface adorned with tools or momentos and every wall covered in paraphernalia that induces positive vibes. It’s a fortress for community building and the halls themselves seem built to foster forward-thinking, where shared mantras include, ”what good will I do this day” “make the new” and my personal favorite “flux is thicker than water”.

Many of the faces are TBA come and go—that’s, of course, the nature of a school—and the fluid shifting keeps the place brimming with energy and dynamism. But a few figures have become cornerstones of the institution. Below, let’s dive into some of the conversations I recently had with a few TBA long-haulers.

Ballz’ JP Weigle Fat Tire Road Cruiser

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Ballz’ JP Weigle Fat Tire Road Cruiser

I met Ballz last August while riding around Brattleboro VT. Afterward, I was welcomed back to Nutmeg Country for pizza, more group rides, and tour guiding. While there I spent the night in Ballz and Troy’s Garage, also known as the Nutmeg Country Historical Preservation Society Of Alt Cycling, or something along those lines. No, really, they had it all: everything from prototype Crust Leather Handlebars to prototype Nor’Easters. So, seeing a one-of-a-kind J.P. Weigle wasn’t out of the ordinary, but I didn’t quite grasp what I was looking at.

From The Pro’s Closet: Ross Shafer’s 1984 Salsa Cycles Custom

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From The Pro’s Closet: Ross Shafer’s 1984 Salsa Cycles Custom

I doubt the readers of this website need an introduction to the brand Salsa Cycles, but what about the brand’s genesis? Today’s From The Pro’s Closet bike features Ross Shafer, the founder of Salsa’s 1984 Custom. This bike, much like Salsa itself, is riddled with lore, so we pinged the lore meister himself, Tasshi Dennis, to dish out the goods. Grab a bowl of chips and a dish of salsa, and get yourself a big scoop below…